I’ve mentioned before that I’m a visual person. When I get an idea in my head, I really need to “see” it to decide if it is a random stroke of genius or just another brain fart.
My first step is usually to scour Pinterest to see if anyone else has done it. You know what they say… there are no original ideas. But sometimes I’m not able to find anything close enough to ease my mind. So I have to find another way to “test drive” it.
I shared in my post on “How to Transition to a new Decor Style” my method of holding things up and taking a picture… nothing earth shattering there. There’s also the ol’ ask-my-husband-to-hold-it-up-while-I-stand-back-and-decide method, which does work in a pinch. But I have found that has limitations on how long he will hold said item, how many items he will hold, and how many times I can change my mind. BTW, all of those limits are inversely related to how heavy the item is.
Plus, you can only hold up things you already own and have in your house, right? But what if you’re trying to decide whether or not you should buy something… or what size you should order? Well friends, I have another little hack that I’ve been doing for years using PowerPoint. I can easily plan out where I want to put things that I may or may not even own yet, no nail holes required!
I’ve used this method multiple times to design gallery walls, furniture arrangements, and so much more. I think once you realize how easy it is, you’ll be thinking of all kinds of ways to use it too! Let me take you through the process from the beginning and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll show you how I planned out the arrangement on the patent wall I recently shared in our dining room reveal.
I had a plan for styling my husband’s new whitetail mount. There is something about taxidermy that does tend to be a… shall we say… “focal point.” 😉 So I definitely wanted to work it into our décor in a more cohesive way. When hubby installed it in our dining room I asked him to hang it off-center… and begged him to trust me when he gave me the side-eye. My plan was to do a little DIY project with vintage patents and barn wood frames (tutorial on that coming soon). But I needed to see it on the wall to be able to visualize exactly what I wanted. So I used my PowerPoint method to plan what size my prints needed to be. Let me walk you through it step by step.
Take a straight-on photo of the space you are going to be working with.
(Don’t mind the puppy toy box in the corner.)
It is important that you get the whole wall in the picture—from floor to ceiling—and that the photo is taken directly in front of the wall in question, not at an angle. You want your ceiling and your floor to be in two straight parallel lines in your image. I’ll show you why in just a second.
Upload the photo to your computer and open up Power Point. Under “Page Setup” make your document big.
I usually just select ledger paper since that is more than enough for most projects I do.
Insert the photo into your document and crop it to your ceiling and your floor.
Basically, you want the height of the photo to be exactly the height of your wall.
If you are using a picture that maybe doesn’t have a straight ceiling line (like a vaulted ceiling perhaps) then you’ll just want to find another reference point in your image to use. Anything that you can measure the height of and crop your picture exactly to will work. I often use windows or doorways instead.
Now it is time to make the photo “to scale.” Yes, I forgot to warn you that there was math. But this is super easy I promise. This is what is going to allow us to add other things to the document and see how they will look in correct proportion to the wall and any other items already in our picture. You can get all mathy on this and do all kinds of scales, but I like to keep things simple with a 1:10 scale in inches.
So, my ceiling height is 8 feet, which means my walls are 8 feet tall. I convert that to inches (8 x 12) and that means my walls are 96 inches tall. Now to do the 1:10 scale I just slide my friendly little decimal point one space to the left and I get 9.6 inches. Shout out to all the times I told my math teachers that I’d never use this stuff in real life!
Now that you have your scale measurement, and you have your image cropped to the height of the wall, you will want to resize your image. So in my case I am making my image 9.6 inches tall.
Once I have my image to the correct scale, I can go back to my crop tool and un-crop it so I get my floor and ceiling back into the picture. Depending on your image and the size you made your starting document, you may need to zoom out. It really doesn’t matter if everything fits on the slide.
Now I’m ready to add stuff in.
For this project I was adding simple rectangular frames, which makes this a great example for my PowerPoint method tutorial. But you can add anything, any shape, any size. I’ve used this same method and grabbed product photos from something I’m considering ordering online and I want to see how it will look in my space. I’ve also taken pictures of items in my home I’m considering using, and inserted the photo into the document using the same scale method.
But good ol’ picture frames are the easiest. I had a handful of different size frames I was considering for my project. I just started making boxes in my document and keeping them in the 1:10 scale.
I labeled each one with what size it was so I knew which was which.
So for an 8”x10” frame I made a 0.8”x1.0” box, for 11”x17” I made a 1.1”x1.7” box, etc. See where I’m going with this?
I kept going until I had a bunch of different boxes to choose from.
Once I had all my “frames” to scale in my document, I just started playing. I moved them around, and switched out different sizes. I used the rotate feature to see if I wanted to hang some landscape versus portrait
And eventually I ended up with something I loved.
16”x20”, 11”x14”, and 12”x16” were the winners!
Then all I had to do was order the correct frames and make my prints. When it was time to hang them on the wall there was no guess work on where to put them, and no need for 10,000 nail holes (or patient husbands holding things up) to get them just right!
So there you have it! I know you could also do this with a higher-tech program like Photoshop, but I find PowerPoint to be the quickest, easiest, most user-friendly way. It helps so much to get these images out of my head and on to something tangible before I start some crazy project idea.
I have used this method time and time again for pretty much every room in my house. And my husband loves it when he goes to help me hang something on the wall and I can tell him exactly where it goes.
Let me know if you have any questions on my little method. It’s a bit hard to explain with screen shots, so I hope it all makes sense. I’m thinking about doing a video tutorial so I can explain it a little better. Let me know if you think that would be helpful.
And I’d love to know if you have any hacks in your tool belt as well! Sharing is caring friends!