License Plate Wall

It's amazing what things inspire me. I love looking for unique quirky things to decorate with. Remember my wedding card collage? Currently I'm collecting all my thread scraps to display in a unique colorful way. I love taking ordinary things and taking them to the next level.

I was in my parent's garage one day and I noticed a box of license plats. By the way- every time I spell the word "license" I misspell it- and auto correct ALWAYS fixes it. So I never actually learn how to correct the bad habit. Notice I pretty much call them "tags" in the rest of the post. :)

They had a box FULL of old tags. And since we had just moved, I noticed that we had quite the collection too. Not on purpose- but we have owned quite a few vehicles. It got my wheels spinning (<--punny- sometimes I can't help it) about how I could display them without being tacky. There really are stories behind each tag and I want my house and its walls filled with memories.

I brainstormed a few places to put this collection. The kids bathroom was high on the list since I haven't done ANYTHING in that room. But there really isn't an appropriate wall besides the wall the toilet is on- and I didn't want to have to work around that. Another place was in the basement. It's kind of where guy stuff lives (except for my hoarderish fabric collection). But again, I wanted this to live somewhere special.

I can with all honestly say that Luke's room is the first complete room in our new house.

And he had the perfect wall. I made it my mission to paint his room first so that he had as little change as possible with the move. He told me he LOVED our new house, but there were no blue rooms. So the weekend after we closed (right before we moved in) I got to painting. We literally bought the paint 10 minutes after we got the keys at closing.

It was pretty easy to fill up his space, especially after setting up his new bed. I don't think it'll ever be done. There is always more to fill, and tweak, take down and put up. But I'm content right now. And since I decided the license plate wall would go in here I got right down to business.

The biggest decision was figuring out how to center it. Do I measure the middle of the wall from actual side to actual side. Or do I measure the center with the door open? Either way it would look off center. Unfortunately that's where my thought process stopped.

Here it is with the door opened (so it looks uncentered):
And here it is with the door closed- you can see it's centered on the wall:
My initial goal was to eventually put his big boy bed (BBB) that I talked about here on this wall. I even measured it's height so I made sure to start the tag wall high enough.

But what I didn't think about was that his BBB would be directly underneath the tags and that puts his bed too close to his door (in my opinion). I hate it when you feel like you trip over a bed the first second you walk into a room. By sitting and staring at the license plate wall long enough I figured that I could remove the vertical row on the left, remove the first horizontal column, put the first row where the horizontal column is and build onto the right. It would pretty much move everything over 9 inches which is exactly what it needs to be centered on the wall with the door open. Live and learn.

Or I'll eventually put his big boy bed on the other wall. No biggie.

Now for the nitty gritty- I didn't want to damage any of the license plates (or put half a million large-ish holes in our walls), so my first thought was to hang them with on command velcro strips. But those are expensive (for a project this big) and some of the tags are slightly bent.

Josh had the idea to use straight pins. You may be totally side-eyeing me now that I put straight pins in a wall that my 4 year old son can reach. *gasp*. But they are so secure in the wall that I can't pull them out with my bare fingers. Also he has been warned that if he touches them it will feel like a shot- and 4 year shots are still a close memory so he has stayed far away. The wall has been up for almost 4 weeks and 1 plate was knocked down once (the pins stayed secure).

First I measured and figured out exactly how high off the aground it needed to be (so I measured the bed first). Then I had to figure out how large I actually wanted it. I made a masking tape grid on the floor as a diagram. Then I laid out all the plates. I tried to use the unique ones, but I ended up needing so many that I used most of them.
I also knew I wanted to create a border using them for a more polished look. That part was a little tricky. I'm not spatial at all so I just had to lay it out and play with it.

Then I found the center of the wall (side to side) and the middle (from the bottom piece of tape to the top. That's where I started.
To check for straightness I used a little level and figured out to best place to put the tags.
Then I held it still and marked the top holes where the pins would go.
I pulled the tag down and then tapped the pins in place VERY gently. Too hard and they bend. See how the pins are barely noticeable?

A few fun facts with a visual:

-There are 5 states represented (New York, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi).
-New York has 2 duplicates since they require a front and back plate. 
-There are 3 tags on the wall that are still "current". 2 expire this month and 1 in August of 2014. 
-I noticed that only Georgia and Mississippi have counties listed.
-One tag has my initials only in a different order. And it was dated 1977- long before I ever existed.
-The sole Mississippi tag is the same tag Josh had when we met. It also went on our honeymoon.
-There are 2 Olympic tags.
-There's 2 "personalized" tags- Alto 2. My mom used to sing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and this was her chair position. Cute right?
-The other personalized one was the New York one at the top. NF stood for Niagara Falls (where my dad grew up) and the number 1621 was his childhood house number. He said that was a really common thing to do back then.
-There are 2 antique tags on the wall that went on my dad's restored 70 Chevy. 
-There are 4 counties from Georgia represented- Cobb, Cherokee, Stephens, and Gwinnett. The funny thing? My mom's not sure where the Gwinnett County one came from. Dad is almost certain that the Cherokee county one was from a Mustang he bought my mom for her 40th. Romantic huh?

I really loved this project! It's fun to make something fun out of practically nothing. And the minor tweaking that needs to be done shouldn't be a big deal. Sometimes it's hard to visualize things before they're actually up and to think through all the ifs and buts!