DIY: Ballet photo wall

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a very good home decorator. When NS and I moved into our first tiny apartment in New Jersey, I did go to IKEA and get enough frames and prints and curtains to cover the walls and make it feel a little homey. In retrospect, I think very few of the individual items went together, but I'll be generous with myself and blame it on our meager existence while living on a very conservative military budget.

In our second NJ apartment, I think I did a little better. My efforts weren't quite Pinterest-worthy, but after four years of settling in, I liked what we put into the space, and I felt like the furnishings and decor reflected me as a person. It was (and to date, still is) my favorite home.

Now that we've moved to Cayman where almost all the rentals are fully furnished, I've had very little incentive to decorate the two condos we've lived in thus far. Part of it is because I can't (or won't) change certain large elements, like furniture or room layouts or overhead lighting. And part of it is because most of our peer group on island is in the same boat - renting someone else's place, using someone else's furniture, eating off of someone else's dishes. And we've all conceded that what we live in is just a shell, and the wall hangings may (or in most cases, may not) be a true representation of our own personal styles.

But every once in a while, I decide to decorate. This time, I decided to create a ballet wall.

So here we go: This post will describe, in full detail, how to create a beautiful wall of ballerinas in your very own home. It's really easy. It just takes the right ballerinas.

Step 1: Be born to a mother who grew up dancing.

This is the ONLY known photograph of my mother as a dancer.

Mom danced from the time she was a little girl all the way through college. As a result, I was born loving ballet. I only took a couple months of formal ballet lessons, in the absence of which I begged my mother to teach me any ballet steps she could think of.  Any.  Every year at Christmas, I couldn't wait to watch the Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland version of the Nutcracker (why is that not in my DVD library?!), imagining myself as lead dancer in every number.

I absolutely love ballet.

Step 2: Find a friend with three gorgeous ballerina daughters.

I've loved my three faux nieces since the time LSRD (the eldest) was born twelve (!!!) years ago. Followed later by her sisters ESGD and ELRD, the three of these sweet, graceful dancers are very near and dear to my heart. Their Audrey Hepburn-esque mother not only planned my wedding eleven (!!!) years ago, but also was one of our very first guests in Cayman.

Step 3: Obtain photos of said ballerinas from a favorite photographer.

How did I get such talented, creative friends? Maddy Joy Holcomb, photographer extraordinaire at the ripe old age of 18, recently shot my three favorite ballerinas in a lovely warehouse space in their Central PA hometown. As soon as I saw the photos, I knew I had to see them every day.

Step 4: Add dancer-mother back into the mix.

Hi Mom! Mom's group shot is surrounded by the ballerina trio.

Step 5: Get your professional interior design friend to create an arrangement of all selected photos.

Okay, so I did do some of my own brainstorming here, but JS is a professional at this stuff, and she was nice enough to proofread my plans and pick up on any design flaws. I think the arrangement came out pretty well!

Step 6: Buy really cheap frameless photo frames.

Honestly, I found 8x10 and 5x7 clip frames on Amazon as cheaply as possible, because the beauty of this wall comes from the content, not the framing.

Step 7: Use 3M sticky tape stuff to hang photos in designer-approved locations.

Drilling things into concrete walls? Ain't nobody got time for that! That 3M stuff saved my life.

Step 8: Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Guys. This is just so easy.  As long as you were born to a ballerina, have three faux nieces as beautiful as mine, and know wickedly talented photographer friends, you're totally set.

Understandably, my hallway is now my favorite "room" in the house. It's a great place to work on my tour jet├ęs. 

Oops...I mean, look at my ballerinas.

Yes. That's what I meant.


  1. A little late on catching up on blogs...but love this!!