Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rebecca's Family Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are quickly becoming my favorite thing to do. There's something especially fun about making them for other people, and I got to arrange one for Rebecca last week.

I think we get to a point with our own artwork or photographs where we only see them in one certain way, and an outside eye can bring the images together in a fresh way. For a gift to our parents on the occasion of our wedding, my husband and I wanted to make a photo book of our life together up to that point. Because we were planning the wedding in just 3 months, and long distance to boot, we were a little short on time for side projects (no shotgun or anything, I just waited a long time to get engaged and didn't want to plan a wedding for two years). So my lovely aunt Missy stepped in and put the book together for us. I love looking at it because it tells a different story of Dave and I than the one I would have constructed, and I love having this other vision. Of course, it didn't hurt that Missy has a great eye--she is a phenomenal photographer, and you can see her work here.

Rebecca has a beautiful midcentury split level in which she says she has had an aversion to hanging things on the walls. But she is also nesting as she awaits baby number three, and she is digging into some long-awaited projects. Her upstairs hallway is a long, blank slate, and it is visible from the front hall and the living/dining room. We looked at the work she wanted to use and discussed the types of frames that would work best (and complement what she already had). After she took several trips to Michael's, we got down to business. (One more aside: Michael's has a coupon for 40% off frames, today through Saturday. If you want to tackle a project like this, now is a great time!)

The first arrangement:

My first instinct was to center around the largest piece and the one strong horizontal frame, with everything sort of fanning out from there. We loved this, but then realized it might read as off-center because the wall we were hanging it on is not centered on the stairway that leads up to it.

So I started taking it apart to build it around two strong central vertical columns. With two "centers," the arrangement will look right from any vantage point. (Rebecca blogs too, a family blog you can read here. Hence the photos of me in action!)

The goal was to keep everything balanced: photos with artwork, old photos and new, ornate frames and simple, copper tones and silver, horizontal and vertical, divided mattes and singletons. Rebecca said it was like a game of Tetris. Indeed.

Because there were so many small pieces, we laid the whole arrangement out on craft paper and traced and labeled each frame, which is a little different from my usual technique. This way, we could play around with the placement of the entire arrangement on the wall without moving dozens of individual papers.

Then we hung the pieces in their individual spots, tweaking as we went. (Normally I wouldn't leave a hole in the center like that, but one key frame was being spraypainted and was not yet dry.)

We chose a tight arrangement with the frames hugging closely together, both for a stronger impact with the smaller pieces (lots of 4x6 and 5x7 frames), and to leave room for Rebecca to expand the wall over the years.

To keep some sense of order, we created pairs where possible, like the two horizontal copper frames on the left below, with 2 photos each,

And broke up the angularity with some tiny little ovals, bottom right.

I have to say, I LOVE the way this turned out! It feels like such a modern way to display family photos, both old and new, and I love that Rebecca mixed in some artwork that was personal to the family.

Everyone has great pieces in their home that can be grouped to make a statement. If you'd like help creating a gallery wall in your home, please contact me at for details.


  1. Bravo! This looks fantastic! I love it.

  2. I cannot even SAY how much I love the way this turned out. My affection for it grows each day. I especially love how it looks modern and geometric when viewed from a distance as a whole, and how fun it is to study each individual image up close. It is just ideally perfectly perfect perfection in every way. THANK YOU!

  3. Great job. I want to try this myself!

  4. I tried this one time and failed miserably. Maybe it was a sign.


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