Friday, January 6, 2012

Gallery Wall

It's finally finished!  It took forever, but my gallery wall is now hanging proudly in the upstairs hallway!

I've wanted a gallery wall for a long time for a few reasons.  I think they look really neat, allow you to show off a lot of different pieces of work, and they take up a good amount of space.  Since Dan and I love traveling, I knew that I wanted to highlight some of our favorite places on our wall.

My mom and I started this project when she came out to visit for Thanksgiving.  First we had to figure out how many pictures we wanted to use.  I looked in my favorite home decor shop to see how many black frames I already had.  Amazingly, I had 13!  That seems like a lot, but I guess they were spread out around the house in DC so it didn't seem like that many. 

Next we looked through all of my travel pictures on Picasa.  I have hundreds upon hundreds, so this step took forever.  I wanted to make sure that each picture we picked could stand alone as an awesome picture, but would look great among the other 12 too.

Then we laid out the frames on the floor so we could see what we like best.  I was going for an organic, flowing shape.  That way, the frames didn't need to be hung perfectly, and I could easily add to the layout if I ever wanted to.  Good thing, because I ended up adding three more frames later to make a total of 16.

Laying out blank frames

Since I'm kind of a nerd, I wanted to see what the pictures would look like before committing to buying the prints.  So I created a Word document and drew the approximate layout using auto shapes.  Then I pasted the pictures I had selected into the different boxes.  There are probably many easier and faster ways of doing this, but I don't know how.  I was anxious to get started so I stuck with what I know.

When I was happy with the layout both online and on the floor, I was ready to hang it on the wall.  Again, there are better methods for this (see Young House Love), but here's what I did.  I took sheets of computer paper and taped them together until they were long enough to cover the whole gallery.  Then I laid each frame on top of the paper and traced its outline.

I traced outlines on computer paper

I measured how far from the edge the nail should go and marked that spot on the paper template.  Then I hung the template on the wall and started hammering away.  Here's where my plan for making the shape organic really came into play.  It was so much less stressful knowing that it didn't have to be perfect because, really, that just wasn't going to happen.  Most of my marks were pretty accurate, but a couple were a little bit off.  No matter.  It looked great anyway :) 

Gallery wall with empty frames

Now that the frames were actually on the wall, I ordered the prints.  I ended up with ten 4 x 6s; one 5 x 7; three 8 x 10s; one 3.5 x 3.5 and one A4.  A4 is the standard British paper size.  I found three cheap frames (the 3.5 x 3.5, the A4 and a 4 x 6) at a local market for less than £9.  The prints were all really cheap, so the total cost for the gallery wall was less than £12 (around $18.50)!

I really love the way it turned out!  This wall is the first thing I see when I come out of my bedroom in the morning and I have a great view of it from my dressing room.  It turned an ordinary wall into a happy-memory-filled art gallery.  And all for less than $20!


  1. Calli - I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! Yours turned out fantastic! I've always wanted to do something like that and we have SO many empty walls that still need to be filled - thanks for this post, I may be referring back to it soon if I take the leap and make my own gallery wall. Hope you and Dan are having a fabulous 2012! And I know I say this every time I post on your blog, but I can't help it because it is true - I MISS YOU! But I'm glad I can at least keep up with you and your adventures through your blog.

  2. Thanks Caroline! I miss you too!!

  3. Looks great! I've been wanting to do something like this too. Thanks for the tips, maybe I'll start mine soon.