My husband and I went to Michael's craft store and picked out a variety of gold frames to use for this project.
We had the inspiration photo with us to use as a guide. We spent quite a few minutes choosing just the right combination of sizes, shapes, widths, etc. Although I don't recall the cost (this was four or five years ago), I'm sure we were using coupons and sales - I rarely purchase anything for full price anywhere! We also purchased two large sheets of matting material in a rich cranberry red color.
For the photos themselves, I first tried to take some "artistic" shots of ornaments that we own. Unfortunately my skills and my equipment did not yield the results I was really looking for. So I went online to stockphoto.com and purchased a selection of images with simple white backgrounds, and then printed them on glossy photo paper. Finally my husband cut the matting into the right sizes, we adhered the photos on top of the matting (much easier than cutting the center of the matting out), and put the photos into the frames.
We arranged the frames on our mantel mostly according to the inspiration photo, but of course we had to mix it up just a little to accommodate the different size frames that we had. We also had items on our mantel that the inspiration photo did not - such as the Santa figures on the outsides, the lighted garland with berries and pinecones, and some very special memento ornaments from our childhoods and other special times. Looks like there's also a big pile of candy canes hiding there beside Santa on the left - you've found my most favorite Christmas treat!
The large green quilt on the wall is an art quilt that a friend made for us to represent the woodlands that surround our neighborhood. I never have the heart to take it down at Christmas time, as it's very special piece, and also I believe the paint around it is now faded and it would leave a big rectangle of a different color of paint if I took it down. So each year I just decorate around / in front of it. I'm not sure it gives the "decorator" touch I could get without it there, but it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.
Finally, the stockings on the mantel were purchased from L.L. Bean long ago, and are always on our mantel, no matter how I decorate it. Another one of those "traditions" in our decorating scheme that is hard to part with just for the sake of style. My approach has always been to incorporate our traditions into our style, that way our home feels like it's our home, not a decorator show home.
Oops - I guess we'll ignore that electrical cord that you can see hanging down off the left side - I could photoshop that out of there, but that's kind of cheating. We'll just go with the fact that this is a lived-in home, and life happens, including random electrical cords that show up where they're not supposed to!
And here is a full view of the family room this particular year (Christmas 2006). We do a large real tree in this room, with smaller artificial trees spread out through the house in other rooms. This tree always holds all of the many ornaments we've collected from our travels and for our kids over the years, as well as hand-made kids craft ornaments, etc. We usually put about 1,800-2,000 lights on the tree - which is a major feat! But it's very much worth the effort! I see the star on top has slipped to the left a little - a common occurrence that we're going to say adds a touch of whimsy. ;-)
Since this photo, we've changed up the draperies in this room, but otherwise it's pretty much the same. I'm looking forward to decorating this year - we're going out to cut down our tree on Friday morning, which will officially begin the Christmas season in our home!