Over the years I’ve found that the number one decorating dilemma for my clients revolves around creating galleries. From picking frames to photos, this task can seem daunting, but if you plan well it’s quite easy and the results are amazing!
Before getting started it’s important to look around your home and identify where you want to create your gallery. Personally I like hallways, staircases, and family rooms for galleries. For this project I decided to re-design our main hallway. It’s fairly long and broken up by several doors, so I had a lot to work with.
The next decision that needs to be made is to hang color or black and white prints. I love both, but typically restrict color photos to hallways since they can easily clash with the decor of the room. For my project I did two galleries: one with color and one with black and white. I also filled smaller walls with black and white photos.
- Roll of brown or white kraft paper (Amazon.com, OfficeMax, and most craft stores.)
- Pencil (don’t use a pen or marker – you could get ink on your frames.)
- Frames (Estimate how many you’ll need by the looking at the space you want to cover. It’s better to over buy and return, rather than not having enough.)
- Optional: Pictures (It sounds silly, but it’s true. Sometimes you have to build it first. Once you have the frames up, filling them is easy.)
1) Measure the wall space you want to cover. Roll out the paper on the ground in the correct size. TIP: If you don’t have kraft paper, you can use the back of wrapping paper.
2) Take empty frames and arrange them into a pattern that appeals to you. TIP: Be sure to leave 6-12 inches on the sides to allow for space between the frames and the door trim. Also try to keep the spacing consistent. I like to use simple frames placed close together so the eye can easily travel from one picture to the next. A bunch of chunky frames with embellishments can compete with the pictures in your gallery. Save the fancier frames for pictures that are displayed on their own.
3) Trace around the picture frames and mark where the hooks will need to be. TIP: I just took a ruler and measured from the top of the frame to the largest opening of the hook on the back of the frame.
4) Make note of the sizes and orientation (horizontal or vertical) of the frames you arranged so it will be easy to find and fill the frames with photos you love. TIP: I like to keep a separate folder of my favorite photos on my computer, so when it’s time to fill a frame, I can easily print them up. For this project I took my list of sizes and quickly found the best pictures for the frames.
4) Tape your penciled-in gallery on the wall making sure the top frame lines are level. TIP: If your walls have been recently painted, use blue painter’s tape – you’ll have to use a lot, but it’s safer for your walls.
5) Hammer in your picture hanging hooks. TIP: My favorite are the OOK Professional Picture Hooks because they lay fairly flat. You can find them at most stores like Amazon, Target, and The Home Depot.
6) Hang your frames and carefully tear down the paper. TIP: If you notice that your frames are popping off the wall a bit, check the back to be sure you don’t have any of the tabletop easels on them. If so, just take them off and your frame should lay flat against the wall.
I have been planning this hallway project for over two years, and would pick up frames whenever they went on sale. For this project I had no pictures in mind before I started. I went through what I had and only kept the pictures that really spoke to me. Don’t worry about the frames going off the bottom of the page. As long as you can mark where your hook needs to go, you’re good.
If your gallery feels a little on the small side, don’t worry. You can always add to it later, and you have to start somewhere, right?
I stick to hanging 4×6, 5×5, 5×7 and 8x10s in narrow spaces; anything larger and the viewer will feel overwhelmed because they are unable to back away to look at the pictures. For the walls in my hallway I used a total of 20 frames. I intend on adding on to my galleries over the next couple of years, so I bet there will be over 40 frames in the end.
Typically a small picture cannot support a wall on it’s own, but if you have a narrow wall, you can get away with using just one or two pictures. And allow for space between the doorway trim and the frame; otherwise your picture will look crowded.
(ABOVE) I love photos of kids taking baths, brushing teeth, or potty training. They’re such beautiful fleeting moments, but they’re a little hard to hang as art since they seem out of place in most rooms. I’ve discovered that hanging them in the bathroom is the perfect place. It’s unexpected and somewhat whimsical… we can all use a little whimsy in our lives, can’t we? ;)
Easel stands are easy to remove. If you can’t get it off with your hands, carefully use a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife to wedge the stand off.
I absolutely love walking down our hallway now… it makes me happy because I’m able to reflect on all of the pictures, and it gives me a chance to share our family with our children and our friends.
I hope you found my post on creating your own wall gallery helpful! As always, I welcome questions here in the comment area or on my Facebook Page. :)