Blog, DIY & Crafts, Family, Projects

DIY Distressed Photo Block {Valentine’s Day Gift for the Hubby}

February 5, 2014

I think I’m safe posting this now.  I know Matt is super busy with everything at work, so I’m betting (and hoping) he’s not going to read this post.  Matt … maybe I’m actually testing you here??

Anyway, I wanted to share with you a fun project that we worked on over the weekend.  I say ‘we’ because Matt actually had to help me with a couple things on this project (completely unaware that he was actually working on his own Valentine’s Day present).  He has pretty much stopped asking questions about what I’m working on, and just spray paints random objects as I request.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to give him something personal.  Something unique.  And, of course, something handmade.  I also happened to know that his office is in desperate need of some updated pictures.  I’m not exaggerating here … the one of the two of us is from college, and has got to be at least 12 years old.  He does have a picture of both boys, though Charlie’s is from his second day in the hospital (he’ll be two in April).

Pictures it is!  But … I didn’t just want to give him a regular old framed picture (because that would just be waaaay too easy), so here’s what I came up with …


A collection of my favorite recent family pictures.  And …  the worn looking wood block makes this picture collage seem oh so manly.  Baby 3 even makes an appearance here!  Can’t get much more updated than that picture from last Friday’s ultrasound!!

This would be a great gift for anyone OR just as a project to display some of your favorite photos around the house.  Maybe a collection of different size blocks … some with photos, some with words, numbers, or letters?  So many possibilities!

Do you have some scrap wood laying around just screaming for some pictures to be mod podged to it??

Well … scrap wood or not, here’s how you make these photo blocks …


  • Scrap block of wood (like I mentioned above).  If you don’t have this … buy one from Michael’s (as I admit to doing here).  Mine happens to be an 8″x10″ block, and it was something like $12 (of which I paid about $7.50 after my coupon).
  • Two colors of paint.  The main color (in my case, white), and the color that will show through after distressing (in my case, dark grey).
  • Mod Podge and brush.  I used the Matte Finish kind.
  • Photos.  I like to use black and whites for these more ‘vintage’ looking blocks (plus I didn’t have an option on the ultrasound pic).
  • Letters/words.  I simply printed off the words ‘love you.’ in a font I liked on regular paper, and cut them out.
  • Upholstery tacks.  I used the antique brass finish tacks.  I sent Matt to Lowe’s to get these (again … completely clueless that it’s for his own present).  He informed me that there were a million several different finishes and sizes to choose from in the hardware aisle.
  • Vasoline (huh????   I’ll get to this in a minute)
  • Sandpaper and/or powered hand sander



  • With my ‘scrap’ block of wood, I first sanded the edges and corners to make it look like it was actually an old scrap piece of wood (rather than a brand new, perfectly cut craft block of wood from the store).
    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge

    BRAND NEW BLOCK OF WOODDIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge

  • Next, paint edges and corners (and anywhere else you may want to show through when you distress it), your darker color (Pewter Grey, in my case)DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge

    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


  • Once all coats have dried, apply Vasoline to the areas that you don’t want your top color to stick to (i.e. edges, corners, etc).
  • Paint the block your top color.  I used white spray paint here.  It needed two coats, and like I said, Matt was very cooperative to do this part for me (spray paint & preggos don’t mix well).

    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


  • Once your top color is dry … the fun part begins.  Using some sandpaper, gently sand all edges and corners to reveal the dark grey underneath.  My white paint basically fell off in the areas I had applied Vasoline.

    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


  • Next, choose your pictures and cut down to the desired size.  Do the same to your printed out letters.
  • Apply a generous coat of Mod Podge to entire front of block
  • Stick pictures and letters/words in place and let dry for 15-20 minutes.

    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


  • Apply at least two additional coats of Mod Podge over the tops of your photos and words.
  • Once Mod Podge is dry, add upholstery tacks as desired.  I added them to the corners of each photo.
    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


  • And finally …. wrap up block, and give to your hubby (right after you print one of these adorable gift tags from Soho Sonnet Creative Living).

    DIY Distressed Photo Block  |  View From The Fridge


I love how this turned out!  I just may need to make some one for our house, now, too!

And now I want to know … what are you ladies planning to give your men for Valentine’s Day?  Something super romantic??  Something sweet?  Something food related?  Nothing?

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  • Reply Carrie This Home February 5, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I love making projects out of photos and this is genius! What a great manly gift to give the hubby on Valentine’s day! It’s so hard for me to find meaningful but manly gifts but this one is perfect! Totally pinning this!
    Carrie This Home recently posted…Valentine’s Day Activites for Pre-K KidsMy Profile

  • Reply Chastity February 5, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I love it! Perfect husband gift.
    Chastity recently posted…No RegretsMy Profile

    • Reply Katie February 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      I’m hoping my husband thinks so, too! Thanks for stopping over!

  • Reply Free Valentine Gift Tag Printables - SohoSonnet Creative Living February 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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  • Reply Clarissa Hooper February 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I love how this project turned out! It has a very masculine feel, but would still fit into the décor in any room of the house. And what great pictures you used! Lovely finished project :)
    Clarissa Hooper recently posted…Magnetic ArtMy Profile

  • Reply Lauren @ The Thinking Closet February 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Such a meaningful project, Katie! And very manly indeed. Really looking forward to sharing this masterpiece with my readers on Sunday. Thanks for sharing it with us!
    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet recently posted…Nautical Master Bedroom Makeover & How We Found Our Shared StyleMy Profile

  • Reply A Kaleidoscopic Dream February 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Aww ! This is so cute. Perfect gift for valentines day and I cant imagine how great the husband would feel to see his whole world right in front of him :) Do check my space when you find time

  • Reply Courtney @ Crafts by Courtney February 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    This is a great Valentine project. I can see this on your hubby’s desk at work or even on your mantel. Now you need to hide this post from him so he doesn’t see it before Valentines day.
    Courtney @ Crafts by Courtney recently posted…DIY Dollar Tree Makeover: Turn Clipboards Into Decorative FramesMy Profile

    • Reply Katie February 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Well … it’s been two whole days since I posted this, and he has yet to mention it. I’m thinking I’m safe now (unless he has a lot of free time to read my blog posts this weekend). That wouldn’t work with you and Clyde, however!
      Katie recently posted…DIY Reversible Wire Bin Liner {Dirty Little Secret Friday}My Profile

  • Reply Sonnet @ SohoSonnet Creative Living February 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    This is such an AMAZING idea! I had no idea about using vaseline, that is so good to know. My husband would love this, his office is all grey wood sort of a feel. So glad you were able to use my Gift Tag printables… made my night! xoxo -sonnet
    Sonnet @ SohoSonnet Creative Living recently posted…Valentines Day Wine and Beer Gift LabelsMy Profile

  • Reply Carrie @ Kenarry: Ideas for the Home February 7, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Reading this post makes me want to dig around in my garage to see if we have any scrap pieces of wood… There’s no way I can pull it off by next Friday, but maybe for Father’s Day? You’ll have to let us know if you were able to keep it a secret from your husband. I bet he’ll love it regardless!
    Carrie @ Kenarry: Ideas for the Home recently posted…Right Now Challenge 2014: Week 6My Profile

    • Reply Katie February 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Hi Carrie … so far so good. He hasn’t mentioned it, and I think I’m in the clear now. I love this idea for Father’s Day, too! By that time baby 3 will be here, and he’ll need more pictures … hmmmm. Thanks for stopping by, and for the note! Have a great weekend!
      Katie recently posted…DIY Reversible Wire Bin Liner {Dirty Little Secret Friday}My Profile

  • Reply Carmody February 7, 2014 at 7:33 am

    This is a really clever idea. Love it!
    Carmody recently posted…Valentine’s Day CardsMy Profile

  • Reply Angela (Life in Velvet) February 7, 2014 at 8:33 am

    This is so, so cute! What a fabulous idea! The pictures you used are just precious :) Adorable project (as always!!)
    Angela (Life in Velvet) recently posted…Thursday S.T.Y.L.E. #6My Profile

  • Reply Nicole @ Mendez Manor February 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Hi Katie! Thanks for linking up to the weekend wind-down party! I love the way your project turned out. This will be one of our features next week! I am excited to be a new follower of yours! Oh and just in case you want to see…here is what my hubby is getting this year :) Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Reply Jeanette February 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    What a wonderful present for your hubby! I love the masculine vibe with all the black & white photos and the grey accent color. Pinning this one for future inspiration!
    Jeanette recently posted…Lost and Found in the Laundry RoomMy Profile

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  • Reply Mary Beth|Cupcakes and Crinoline February 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Oh, Katie, what a sweet gift ~ and it looks amazing! pinned

    hugs, Mary Beth
    Mary Beth|Cupcakes and Crinoline recently posted…Project Inspire{d} Link Party ~ Countdown to Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  • Reply Shaunna @Tempting Thyme February 11, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    What a great gift! I will certainly be doing this for ‘special’ gifts this year! Have a great week! Shaunna
    Shaunna @Tempting Thyme recently posted…Happy Birthday Mom!My Profile

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  • Reply Ariean @OneKriegerChick February 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    No kidding…You come up with the cutest projects! Please just move in next door, so we can craft while the boys play! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next…and I have no idea how you do it all! :)

    Ariean @OneKriegerChick recently posted…Feather Garland {& dining room progress}My Profile

    • Reply Katie February 18, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Ha, ha, Ariean!! As long as you live somewhere warmer than here … I’d seriously consider it!! Can you imagine the craziness of 5 (and quite possibly 6 come May) little boys running around!!! Thanks for the note! Hope you and your little guys are having a great week!
      Katie recently posted…DIY Scrap Wood Photo BlockMy Profile

  • Reply Sylwia February 20, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Kelly, I absolutely love framing memories in such a cute way & loving your ideas. I’ve recently blogged about your DIY Valentine’s Coasters Thanks for the inspirations!

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