Top News

MY HANDMADE HOME: Door grill turned DIY photo board

It was leaning in the corner of my client’s basement, and I recognized it immediately as one of those wooden grilles you’d see in a French door.

“Oooh! Can we use that?” — one of my favourite questions when I’m decorating a room for someone.

I didn’t know exactly what I’d do with it, but I knew I had to take it. It was the same oak as the doors and trim in her daughter’s bedroom, and I knew I could make something cool with it.

A photo board! Yes! I could put fabric and batting behind it, and photos could be slipped behind the wooden grid. I was still fuzzy on how it was going to work, exactly, but I had the general idea.

I trucked the grille home with me and re-enforced it with a few well-placed screws — it was a little rickety from being in the basement for who knows how long. Then I laid it on the floor and surrounded it by 1x2 boards — no measuring required — to build a simple frame around it.

My client and I decided to use some kind of textured canvas for the photo board, so I found the perfect taupe-and-cream striped fabric. I wrapped my wooden frame with quilt batting and stapled it under the edges.

Then I spread out the striped fabric, wrong side up — no need to prewash it, since the whole photo board was never going to get tossed into the washing machine — and ironed out any wrinkles, right there on the carpet.

Gently, I placed the batting-wrapped frame onto the fabric, so the wrong side of the frame, the part with visible staples, was facing up. Then it was just a matter of wrapping the fabric around the padded frame, trimming any excess, and stapling it in place.

Whenever you’re upholstering something like this, make sure to staple the centre of each edge first, top, bottom, left, right, to keep the fabric straight. Then move around the whole thing, filling in the gaps between your four primary staples.

Corners can be tricky, especially when there’s padding involved, but I just pulled mine inward to make a rounded sort of corner, and then stapled the heck out of it.

Once the padded frame was all wrapped in fabric, I stapled some twine to the back of the wooden door grille in a geometric sort of pattern. Then photos could be pinned to the fabric, slipped under the wooden grille, or clipped onto the twine.

The trickiest part was flipping the grille over and wedging it inside the padded frame. I had to get my handy husband to help with this part. We took turns pressing the grille down into place and screwing through it — into the padded frame — to keep it from popping back out.

I hung the finished photo board up in my client’s daughter’s bedroom, and then I had the fun of loading it up with photos, drawings, cards and signs. I didn’t even have enough to fill it, so it’s going to be able to hold a lot more of her treasures.

I love how the wood coordinates with the wooden trim and closet doors nearby, which have been painted white in several other rooms of the house. We worked with the wood instead of trying to downplay it.

Who knew a wooden door grille could be so useful in its next life?

  • COST: $40
  • EFFORT: 2 out of 5
  • RESULTS: 5 out of 5

Heather Laura Clarke is a crafty maker who perpetually has paint smears on her hands, sawdust in her shoes and bits of thread stuck to her leggings. She lives in Truro with her husband, son, and daughter. Follow her adventures at

Recent Stories