Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Make a Perfect Gallery Wall (DIY)

I am SO EXCITED to share this with you today!

For a long time, I've been collecting thrifted frames and compiling photos of my kids to eventually re-do a wall in my living room with a big gallery of pictures and artwork. One of the things about thrifting for frames is that it's a slow process. You can easily find frames at any department store, but they're $5-10 a piece, and I usually purchase thrift store frames for $1-2.  Plus, thrifted frames are a lot more interesting - you can sometimes find some with awesome textures and patterns. It's just a labor of love. And I was content to wait to collect all of the right pieces, but I was so anxious to get my wall re-done!

And then in one weekend, it all came together.

How to put an amazing wall gallery together with two can't miss tips! |

My BFF and I set out on an epic thrifting adventure a couple Saturdays ago. We started with a block sale, hit two thrift stores, and finished with a roadside sale. And we cleaned up! I don't think I've ever had as much success as I did that day! I ended up finding every last frame I needed (along with a ton of other amazing stuff), and I was so excited about it that I got to work on my gallery as soon as I got home.

I'm sharing how I did it, plus some really awesome tips so that you can create a perfect gallery wall, too!

Step 1
I laid out all of the frames and pieces that I wanted to include in my gallery wall on the floor. I shifted things around a few different times until I liked the look of it.

Step 2
I took a picture of the layout and uploaded it to my computer. Using paint, I quickly outlined the frames in the colors I wanted to paint them to see which frames needed which colors. Matt was helping me with this, so we tried a few different ways of doing it - the first one had one color per size of frame, the second one started with all white and we added pops of color where we thought it belonged, and we liked that one a lot better!

Step 3
Using post-it notes, I labeled each frame with a number (so I'd remember where it belonged in the layout), and the color it was getting painted. Then I sorted them into color piles and took the photos, glass, and backings off each one. I stored the pieces in a laundry basket to keep little ones' hands off them.

Step 4
Spray paint. Ohhhhh the spray painting. My hands HURT by the end of the day, and I had to keep switching hands. Phew! It was addicting, and fun, though - I ended up spray painting a lot of other things, too...haha.

Step 5
Once the frames dried (overnight), I added hangers to a few frames that were missing them, or whose hangers were in the wrong direction for the orientation I planned to hang them in. The easy "push-in" hangers were the best - though I used a hammer to make sure they were stuck in really well. Then I put all of the frames back together and washed the glass of each one as I did it.

Step 6
I rebuilt the layout on the floor to help me hang everything up in order. It was a really awesome visual seeing them all ready to go, and I made a few simple adjustments. I took a final picture on my phone to reference when hanging.

(Don't mind the crazy kids at the bottom, haha)

Step 7
I measured the full length and width of my arrangement, and then measured it out on the wall. To make sure I was working within that size space, I used painters tape to block it off.

Step 8
Time to hang! I started with the pictures along the bottom row, working my way over and then up. Maybe this was crazy of me, but I didn't measure much of anything as I went. That's just sort of my style - wingin' it, haha. I just eyeballed it as I went, and referenced the pictures on my phone of the layout so I knew where things went. I had to make a couple of adjustments as I went, but I like the changes that I ended up making!

When I hang things on the wall, I have a secret weapon:

Yep, toothpaste samples from the dentist. I know - what?

Well - dab a little on the hanger of the frame before you line it up on the wall. It will leave a dab of toothpaste on the wall right where the nail needs to go! Hammer the nail right on the dab of toothpaste, wipe any remaining toothpaste off the picture frame's hanger, and hang it up! Ta Da! No mis-marks on the wall or complicated methods to line the hangers up!

I also tape these types of hangers in place with painters tape so I don't have to fight with them so much when they won't stay in place ;)

Step 9
Straighten and adjust. There were a few frames that didn't end up exactly where I wanted them, or that were too close in one direction or the other, so I fixed those. I also didn't bother making everything perfectly straight as I was hanging, because each time I put a new nail in the wall, the hammering would shake them out of alignment, anyway. So this was the time to straighten them.

Sometimes, depending on the type of hanger a frame has, I have a really hard time keeping a frame totally straight. And I find that over time, a lot of frames will wiggle out of alignment. It can be a real pain trying to keep them all in order, so - I add a small roll of painters tape to the back corner of each frame, and then press the frame to the wall. No more wiggles!

Step 10
Enjoy! :)

Ready for the reveal? Okay, I realize you've already seen it up there...humor me! ;)


Ahhh, I'm in love! I didn't tell Matt I was hanging this while he was at work one day, and he was shocked when he came home! I was nervous about how he'd like it (he can never visualize my ideas), but he loves it - score!

I feel like it really brightens up the room, and it's already gotten happy comments from visitors. It makes me so happy to see my boys' sweet faces. Matt and I have stood and talked about how big they've gotten and how much we love this or that picture. Sighhh, such a happy addition to our house!

Go add one to yours!

PS - I don't think my gallery is perfect - in fact, it's not finished. The white plaque with the hearts on it still needs some paint, and I feel like I need to adjust the spacing on a few of these. But after years of blah, this feels pretty darn close ;)

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