Photo gallery wall ideas

 my gallery wall3

I am obsessed with gallery walls – whether they consist of photos, paintings, drawings or an eclectic mix of items. I have been collecting bits and pieces over the years but the final step of assembling them is the part that intimidates me. Photo gallery wall ideas abound on Pinterest and they all look so enticing. I drool over them but the problem comes in the execution. I tend to go at my DIY rather haphazardly, you see – either I am missing the right tools or I take short cuts to save time. I know most of the rules but I just don’t seem to have the patience to measure, plan, and carefully go about hanging in an organized way. Instead, I improvise and it’s a family joke that I use a meat tenderizer to bang in my nails instead of a hammer. My tendency to take short cuts shows in my results and all the walls in my house are pockmarked with nail holes from failed past experiments.


I have decided I need to reform and I will seriously attempt to stick to the rules for once.

What I need:
– artwork
– frames
– nails
– hammer (or mallet!)
– tape measure and notebook for measurements (because I always forget measurements the minute I have taken them)
– pencil and eraser
– tape
– level

I have dragged some paintings, an old clock, a drawing of my son done by a friend, and huge quantities of black and white photographs out of storage. A few hours fly passed as I go through all the photos and decide what to use.  I can’t believe what I have squirreled away over the years. I am completely sidetracked as I start pulling out random items (crafts made from toilet paper rolls, old broken frames, abandoned half-completed paintings). If you do not have any artwork of your own to display and you want to create a gallery, it is no problem as there are plenty of free printables available online.

If you are not confident about assembling your own display and don’t have your own artwork, you can to the route of buying wall display art.  I love the display below, assembled from artworks that can all be purchased from Amazon. The fact that all the frames are identical in color and style gives a clean, elegant look. You could even follow this design, buy some of the pieces and substitute others with black and white photos. I like the fact that the pictures work so well together despite the fact that they are not chosen according to a specific theme.
Many people choose a simple palette of black and white. I love black and white and I think it is far easier for beginners to work with – it already gives some cohesiveness to the display. However, the more adventurous and talented are able throw all kinds of colors together successfully. I decide I will go largely for black and white but with some creams and browns and a few touches of rust thrown in.

The experts say that size matters – the sizes of the different elements is what makes or breaks a display. Grouping different sizes is rather like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Layout ideas are easy to find on the internet. Here are two examples of squares and one where items are lined up on either side of a middle line. I have decided to line mine up at the bottom.

Frames of the same colour and style are probably easier to work with than having all kinds of different frames. You can pick up frames cheaply from junk shops and spray them all the same color if necessary. I have frames of different styles and colours that I want to use and I hope I can make them all work together.

I measure the space I want to fill on my wall and measure out the same area on my floor, putting tape at the four corners.   I first select the piece I want in the centre of the display – my three nieces in pensive mode. The centre piece is usually the largest piece.  After this I start randomly placing other items. My clock goes next to my focal piece and I place a large black and white photo of my daughter on the opposite side to balance it out. My brother-in-law’s grandfather and grandmother were travelling artists in Britain and I have included two of their small pieces on the far sides of the display. Some old gold keys used in our very first house are added to the mix as well as an old newspaper article. I keep moving items around, seeing which ones fit best together. I want to mix paintings, drawings and photographs but it is not so easy to achieve a pleasing balance. I try to leave equal spaces between all the items and finally, I am happy.

gallery-wallNow I need to trace my frames onto paper and tape them to my wall. I am exhausted by this point and decide to leave this task for tomorrow. My gallery will have to sleep on my floor tonight. I think this is a good idea as I can cast a fresh eye over it in the morning and see if I am still happy before I go on to the next step.

When installing pictures over furniture, you should leave a decent space between the base of the frame and the top of the furniture. However, it is also important to keep the display at eye level by using only two or three pieces above one another.

The job of tracing all the frames onto paper and hanging them up challenges my patience.  Eventually I give up and its back to the measuring tape and stepping backwards and forwards, trying to see how each piece looks as I place it. This is most definitely the worst part of the whole exercise for me. I resort to some swearing and muttering before the whole process is over. My layout I did on the floor gets some adjustments as I place items on the wall. I end up lining everything up evenly at the bottom, replacing the newspaper article and adding some of my great grandfather’s medals. I am not sure whether I like it better but it is done now. I have created my gallery wall and I am proud of myself, even if I didn’t stick to the plan. It is not perfect but it is mine and it evokes all sorts of memories for me as I look at it.  I’m so glad that these items are no longer buried away in storage! Are you as intimidated as I was about creating a gallery wall? I would love to hear your comments about whether you have attempted one and I would also love to hear any tips on how to make the process easier.


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