Retouching, Reproducing & Framing Old Photos

Hi friends!  Forget all about ridiculous Deflate Gate, welcome to the Blizzard of '15!

 See the "UP TO 36" IN SPOTS"???......yep....that's us!!!

So if you don't hear from me again anytime soon.....that's because I'm going out of my mind without an internet connection....and with a snowed in 16, 14 and 12 year old without internet.  Oh the suffering!  No, really the kids are excited, and I am just hoping people stay safe and warm.  I took my daughter and her friends to serve at a shelter on Saturday, and every time I watch the news all I can think about are those who live on the streets and how they will fare through this.  May they all find shelter from the storm.

* ******************** *

You may have heard me mention one or a hundred times that I used to own a picture framing business, so I often get questions about framing items.  This past week I have talked to 3 different people about framing old photos, and since they in particular need special care, I thought I'd share a few tips here to keep in mind when displaying yours.

My number one most important tip for displaying old photographs:
1// MAKE A COPY of the photo and frame that instead of the original.

Sunlight is the enemy of old photos and will fade them away into ghostly images if you expose them long enough.  Instead of taking that chance, frame a copy instead.

This is one of the few photos I have of me with my dad and after many years in a frame it is very faded.

2// Try scanning your photo to your computer and fixing flaws yourself.
I use Picasa, which is a free photo editing software that you can download to your computer.  It's fine for the kind of photo editing I do (I would love Photoshop someday for even more editing options.)  

I'll show you really quickly what I do after scanning old photos on my printer, saving them to a camera card and then uploading to my computer (some printers allow you to scan on your printer and save directly to your computer.)  

The example I'm using is a photo of my grandfather Thomas Faherty, taken I'm guessing somewhere around 1910.  This image has been copied numerous times so the quality of what I have to work with isn't so great anymore.

I use the Retouch feature in Picasa to remove any spots or creases.

Then I usually adjust the lighting of the photo too.   I occasionally use the Color Temperature gauge to fix an old photo that might have a slightly brown or yellow cast.

The end result is not perfect, but it's better than what I started with, right?

3// You don't have to spend a fortune on photo reproduction.
Years ago I brought old black and whites to a camera and photo specialty store to have them restored and copied.  The service and photos were costly.

I also copied a bunch of black & whites I wanted to frame at Target 8 or 9 years ago.  Our Target (and I'm assuming most) has a Kodak Picture Maker that is basically a self serve copier.  This is an inexpensive option.

Nowadays I usually scan the photos and enhance them on my computer and then upload to Snapfish or other online photo sites.  This way is also pretty cheap even after factoring in shipping.

This gallery wall below (that has since been made into the Wall O'Bookcases) is comprised of all the photos mentioned above - ones that were restored and printed at a photo specialty store, ones I printed on the Kodak Picture Maker, and ones I uploaded to Snapfish to have printed.  

In looking at all these photos in person, 

So the moral is - you don't have to spend a lot of money reproducing old photos.
{You might want to spend some money on those little adhesive thingamajigs to keep your pictures straight though :) }

The one exception....
printing photos on paper on your home printer.

For framing purposes, this has NOT been successful for me over a long period of time.
At first the photo might look great but over time the image will deteriorate.

I framed this photo (Dad's Irish football team) about 5 years ago after copying a photo on my printer.

The image color is all distorted (dark parts faded, and the sky took on that weird pinkish hue) and spots developed all over it.
So yeah.....don't do that. :)

4// Choose mats that are acid free.
Most mats today are acid free but if you are buying a ready made frame and mat, be sure the packaging states that the matboard is acid free to avoid deterioration of your photo over time.
(You will notice white mat boards that have acid in them become yellow at the bevel where the opening for the photo is cut out.)
{Ikea's mats are acid free.}

5//  Look for ready made frames that have UV filtering glass.
This will also help your displayed photo from fading and deteriorating over time.
I don't always find ready made frames with this feature but if you are hanging your framed photos near a window then pay special attention to this.

I think old photos add such interest to a home and a sense of history for a family.  They tell part of your story just like using maps in your decor.  I love old photos individually displayed but I especially adore them grouped en masse.....
via Elle Decor

Aaron Hom via Desire To Inspire

via Coastal Living

 Eric Cohler Design

Do you display any old photos in your home?


Framed Map Madness

I love a house that tells a story, don't you?
A house that has interesting elements that your eye lingers on, that intrigue you a bit?  That's why I think I'm drawn to framed maps.  What better way to tell your story than with reminders of your favorite places.  

The merits of maps:
1//  they can be quite affordable 
2//  they come in endless sizes and colors
3//  they can be framed in all sorts of configurations.

In a nutshell -
maps are customizable for your home, and for your story.

I'm currently helping a friend give her house some personality with a few pieces of art and we've been on the hunt for the perfect map for a big blank wall in her kitchen.  In searching for maps of places that are special to this family I've been re-schooled in various types of maps.  
Who knew when I studied cartography way back in elementary school it would pique my interest 30 something years later?  Maybe I should have paid more attention.

There are so many kinds of maps, and so many interesting ways to hang them - 
lets take a look shall we???

Nautical charts or maps are used for navigational purposes, depicting water depth, obstacles, distances and landforms.

This map is a NOAA chart (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  You can order a paper chart for $15-$30 from various online sellers (this seller's price is the lowest I've found).  
The charts come in various sizes.  
I mounted this nautical map to a sheet of insulation and framed it with corner molding - a very inexpensive way to mount and frame a large print. 

A nautical map triptych from Pottery Barn (no longer available but imagine how easy this idea would be to DIY with large eye hooks screwed into the top of the frame and some nautical rope?)

Antique nautical maps are a great way to add a bit of patina to your house 
(found here, but original source unknown.)  I love how this one has an aged look but also that pop of teal.

Quail Lane Press on Etsy sells nautical map prints that have beautiful hand drawn details and colors.

Topographical charts show the shape and elevation of land and bodies of water.  Lines close to each other indicate elevation or depth.  Lines that are spread out indicate flat areas.

A blown up and divided topographical map can make a huge statement and fill up a big wall.  Think free map images (start with this awesome site full of high resolution maps!!), and Ikea frames.

How cool are these 3-D wood topographical maps by Wood Chart?  They are around $138-$300 (16x20" on up).

There are topographical maps, and then there are typographical.....maps that are comprised of words.
This one has all the counties of Massachusetts.
$20-$25 for 8x10"-11x14"

Typographical map by Cupcakes and Cashmere via Apartment Therapy.
Do you love this as much as I do?

Also known as tourist maps, these maps are illustrations of an area.

Josie Portillo via Etsy
$30-$45 for 8x10"-11x14"

Wouldn't this be cute in a kid's room or playroom?
SepiaLepus via Etsy
$18-$28 for 8x10"-11x14"

Tourist maps that one uses to navigate a city by foot, or road atlases that are used to drive the streets of a particular location are both considered street maps.

I love love love how Alissa at 33 Shades of Green framed and grouped together street maps that she used on a trip to Italy!  The maps are colorful and also a reminder of a wonderful trip.

This canvas art is a city comprised of pages from a 1960s road atlas book.

Cartesian Studio on Etsy  

Street maps without words have a modern and graphic feel.

Michael Tompsett via allposters.com

City Fabric on Etsy has maps printed on 18x24" paper that are on sale for $11-$19 in several color ways.  Good bang for the buck!

City street maps are striking grouped together.

Restoration Hardware always nails it with the mounted antique maps; but ouch, they are usually out of my price range.  This one is *only* $279.....

....but if you love the look of the RH antique maps don't miss the tutorial for this amazing and huge street map tutorial on the blog Maison de Pax!

What else.....political maps.....climate maps.....economic maps......

So tell me......do you have any framed maps adorning your walls??


How Our Natural Fiber Stair Runner Has Held Up

Happy new week lovelies!!

I get emails all the time from readers about the seagrass stair runner I installed a year and a half ago.   I thought it was high time I share a Q&A, after my very active family of five has had a chance to put it to the test.  

We had a seagrass area rug for a dozen years before I installed the runner, and so I already knew the merits of natural fiber rugs:

ONE - neutral
TWO - brings texture to a room
THREE - durable
FOUR - affordable
FIVE - can be layered with smaller rugs
SIX - works with lots of styles

The one downside to using a natural fiber rug is that it is hard on bare feet, which my kids are not fond of, but I am willing to sacrifice comfort because I need something that can take a lot of abuse on the stairs.

Before I installed the runner I spent three years doing my research on whether a natural fiber runner would be a good choice for stairs that get a lot of traffic, in a home that has 1) teen & tweenagers who run up and down the stairs a million times a day when they are home, and 2) a very furry dog, who doesn't go upstairs but whose fur manages to travel to every corner of our home. After mulling it over, I finally took the plunge, and I'm so happy I did!!

This is our experience after living with this herringbone pattern, cotton-bound seagrass rug for 17 months and counting, based on questions I've received from readers.

One sisal rug company recommends NOT using natural fiber on stairs because they pose a risk: "The surface of the plant fibers is smooth enough that people wearing leather-soled shoes could slip and fall."  I was curious about this statement because my family knows from experience that uncovered hardwood stairs and stairs with a wool runner can be hazardous, since various members have slipped on both over the years.  Aren't ALL stairs inherently hazardous?  Would a natural fiber rug make stairs even MORE so?

In our experience, NO.  The slippery factor might be a bigger issue with sisal, or a jute or seagrass with a smaller and tighter weave, but the herringbone pattern has a lot of texture.  Basket weave seagrass also would be a great option.

YES!  We have found the seagrass runner to be extremely durable on stairs.  It doesn't show dirt or the dog's fur from our socks unless you inspect it closely.  I vacuum daily thanks to our furry family member, and the seagrass weave is loose enough that anything on it comes right up.

In my experience with natural fiber area rugs in other parts of our home, if food or something solid (like play-do for instance) is on the rug, it's best to let it dry, and then scrape it up and vacuum out the bits that are left.  Stay tuned for some tips on cleaning natural fiber rugs in the near future.

When the runner was installed, a bunch of the fibers popped out within the first few months.  Since then the amount of loose fibers has decreased substantially despite constant traffic and vacuuming.  I  cut minor loose fibers with scissors.  One long strand did come loose and I used a bit of wood glue to press it back into the weave of the runner.  Otherwise there have been no issues with loose loops.  I imagine if you have a pet who uses the stairs this might be more of an issue.

No one ever seems to step on the sides of the runner and so the natural colored border looks like it did the day it was installed.  However, beware that light colored borders can get very dirty and are not so easy to clean, so take that into consideration if you are purchasing a natural fiber rug with a border.  I have one in my mudroom and the tan border is really beat up, although the seagrass isn't show much wear or staining.

Seagrass is a thick fiber, and both herringbone and basket weave patterns are quite dimensional, so it's easy to hide staples.  The first few steps that I installed have a few visible staples, but they blend pretty well - you would have to look to find them.  A stair rod would hide these perfectly (they're on my 2015 to-do list!) I stapled alongside the fibers instead of across them to hide the staples as much as possible.

This was the first runner I ever installed myself and so there was a bit of a learning curve.  I worked my way up from the bottom, and the first couple of steps are a little looser than the rest.

The big take-away from my installation experience was to staple under the top edge of the treads after installing the runner all the way up.  That way you have a nice, tight installation on each tread.  (The step-by-step tutorial is linked at the end of this post.)

Also - stop and stand back frequently to make sure your runner is still centered.  Even though I used painter's tape as a guide on either side, it was easy to get a little bit off as you worked on stapling.  A second set of eyes and hands is helpful, but you CAN do it yourself!

YES - in a heartbeat I would install a natural fiber rug as a stair runner again!!  I love the way the seagrass changed our house - it definitely brought a fresh feel to an 80s era traditional colonial.

{Runner Source - Overstock}

I must admit, installing this runner on our stairs was a bit intimidating at first, but after doing it I can honestly tell you that it wasn't difficult!   For the step-by-step tutorial check out this post, and for tons of stair inspiration photos check out my Pinterest board.

This post is purely based on my opinion and is for informational use only.  Please exercise caution with any DIY project and in using stairs!  


Top Ten Of Twenty Fourteen

Happy new year friends at Shine Your Light!

Thank you all so much for following along over the past year!

This has always been my happy little getaway from real life drama,
but when sorrow struck my family last summer I realized how many wonderful friends
I have made through this blogging gig.
As the Irish saying goes,
"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."
And I am so grateful for your shelter!

It's a bright and shiny new year and I'm looking forward to exploring some new home DIYs, artsy-craftsy projects, good food and fun with you!

But first....

here are some of the more popular posts from 2014!
(click the picture or link to see the posts)

Last but not least, 
my own favorite of 2014.....
the biggest DIY I have ever tackled by myself.....
the best carpentry learning experience I have had....
the project that 8 months later is STILL not 100% finished
and will never be properly "styled".....
and the one I am most proud of mustering up the courage to try!!

I have LOVED connecting with you here and all around the blogosphere this past year and as I head into my fifth year of blogging, I hope to bring you more creative ideas to make your house more functional and meaningful, and offer some encouragement to try new things along with me.

THANK YOU for being such a wonderful part of this community and shining your beautiful light in my direction, and happy year ahead!!!!