Did I ever tell you about the time I lived in a dreamy place called Monterey California? (I thought you might need a visual) This is a magical land where sea otters dot the ocean, and salt mixed with sea lion barks fill the air. I was lucky enough to live there for 2 years, and even more fortunate to reside in a very expensive part of our nation as a poor starving student! It was a very glamorous lifestyle, filled with rotating ramen / macaroni and cheese dinners.
Even though I was a church mouse, (that means a poor married student with a baby on the way-according to my mom) I liked to have style and aesthetically pleasing things in my life. As we all know, things are hard to come by when money is tight, and stylish things, forget about it. To achieve a certain level of style we used the usual garage sales, thrift stores, and the flea markets as great (affordable) resources.
One afternoon shortly after we moved in, I went to the library to check out books on decorating, DIYing furniture, and the like. (The library is a place where people would go before the internet)(well there was internet, but it was dial-up, and AOL was king, AND there wasn't even a gap.com yet- let alone apartment therapy, catch my drift? It was pretty sucky- but we didn't know that yet)(oh the modern age- it is marvel and a wonder) So, at the library I came across a book, I do believe it was a Martha book, that gave me the secret to my deepest burning questions from since before the birth of man... "how in the heck do I hang my framed photos in the perfect wall collage, without going insane/nailing too many holes in my rental apartment wall that I will have to putty and paint before I move out?"
The answer from the almighty Martha was simple... Make a mock-up version first with paper. this will allow you to change things around and try out every possible combination before using one single nail!
We have since lived in 4 different places and in each one I have used this technique. It might seem terribly laborious, but it's not, it really only takes about *15 minutes to get it all mapped out, and then you are ready to mix and match different combinations.
the first step is taking photos
the second step is framing them
(*those two steps should be done in advance and will likely take longer than 15 minutes)
the third step is to cut paper the *exact same size of your framed photos (*or there abouts)
next, start taping paper-faux-photos to the wall
mix and match as much as you like
once you have settled on something, replace paper with real life framed photos!
PS, you can do this with other art, not just photos. see below.