Thursday, September 16, 2010

photo walls

I've been promising to show you my photo gallery walls for quite some time, so I suppose I should be a lady of my word and share.

On two of my downstairs walls, I knew I wanted to display lots of photos, both old and new. Also, part of my project on the entry hallway was to choose photos that were seasonal. I'm really not a seasonal/holiday decorator, but I do love the idea of having the house feel like "fall" or "Christmas" or whatever season it is. I thought the best way to accomplish this in my house was to have a photo wall where I could exchange photos with relative ease and not have a lot of bulky decorations to store. My plan is to replace my fall photos with winter photos, but still leave the fall ones in the frames in case I want to use them again next fall. There's no doubt I'll want to change some, but I like having the option of keeping the more generic ones as well.

So, I began by choosing my frames. The easiest for me was to choose Pottery Barn's gallery frames because I liked the size of the matting and they gave specific dimensions online for both the frame and the size photo it held. Also, the frames were available in a variety of colors and materials.

For the first wall, I chose the white and black wood frames and sprinkled in some chrome frames as well.

I measured my wall space (95") and used PowerPoint to arrange my rectangles in a way that suited me.
Notice, I color-coded my frames and listed out to the side what photos I would need to fill the frames, and whether the photos needed to be horizontal or vertical in orientation.

I should also mention that Stephen, our graphic designer at Studio Calico makes fun of me because of the way I clearly misuse PowerPoint and don't use PhotoShop, but this is just so much easier for me.

So, after arranging my color-coded rectangles and listing the photos I would need, I went in search of photos on my computer to fill these holes. As I found each photo, I edited it and saved it in a file named "Gallery Frames" so that I could upload the photos all at once and print them on the same type of photo paper.

Once, I received my photos in the mail (ordered from on metallic paper, and they're beautiful!), I put them in frames and laid them out on the floor to make sure my schematic worked.

To hang these photos, we used regular picture hangers designed to work in drywall (sheetrock) and hold up to 20lbs since we knew the likelihood of hitting a stud in this arrangement would be close to impossible. Although, I came very close to hitting my stud after he lost the pencil for the 1000th time!

In between laying these on the floor and hanging them on the wall, both my dad and Greg were naysayers. They almost had me convinced that hanging my pictured like this would be impossible, but I stood firm. I was confident in my math skills (even while pregnant) that this project was not beyond my skill set. So, I wrangled Greg and we went to measuring, marking and hanging. Let me give you a few pointers from our experience:
  • Start in the middle. Human reasoning might say to start from the left and work to the right, but you'd be making a mistake because it's much easier to put the middle photos up first exactly where you want them and work from them as your foundation.
  • Measure, then measure again. You'll want to measure the distance of the hook on the back of your frame from the edge of the frame in both directions, then mark that on the wall. In some cases, we drew an x and y axis of sorts and placed the hanger at the intersection.
  • Use a level. That one is self-explanatory.
  • Use the angled hangers that I linked. Those are easiest to nail directly at the mark you want. Also, if you mess up, you will have enough room to use this type of hook without having to repair your wall (we only messed up once!)
  • To hang these photos, you have to hang bottom first. So, if you want to change out the photos, like I will be doing, you'll need to remove a whole row from the wall to rehang the bottom picture. Make sense?
  • Don't think that you need to glue all the frames together and hang as one. That was Greg's idea and I almost had the baby right then and there I was so upset about that idea!
I wasn't able to really photograph this wall to do it justice. The photos really are so pretty and vibrant and make our entry hallway just gorgeous. I promise. We've gotten lots of compliments on them already.

On to the next wall, which was a bit easier.

For this wall, I planned to use Pottery Barn's Wall Easel system, which comes in 4' or 18" lengths for the horizontal bar. I measured my wall (125") and decided I'd need two 4' sections.

From there, I used my same weirdo way of laying out my frames and photos in PowerPoint, keeping in mind that the wall easel has vertical bars that each column of frames would be affixed to.

To hang this, I got my handy-dandy husband, who didn't complain at all about hanging these compared to the others. Then, we set out to affix the clasps to the rods. Word to the wise: again this is a project you have to work in order, except this time is top - down. I thought I'd be able to slide the frames in and out for easy photo replacement, but that's just not the case, so I don't see these photos being changed out all that often.

But, all in all, it's a great way to fill a large wall.

More house photos to come in the next few days & weeks!


Mrs Frizz said...

what totally stunning photo displays ... love, love, love that hanging display ...

Kathy said...

I love these April! Very stylish :)

Can't wait to see more, especially looking forward to seeing your scrap space and how you pared down supplies and what you are infact left with.

Debbie said...

gorgeous displays. =)

Lexi said...

Absolutely beautiful. My husband and I have talked SEVERAL times that we need to do this, but never have. Consider me motivated!
And I wouldn't have used photoshop either. Or powerpoint for that matter. A piece of paper and pencil. Wonder what Stephen would think of that ;D

lisa truesdell said...

lovelovelove. i've been wanting to do a gallery wall along our stairs, but it's intimidating. guess i need to get to PSEing it all out. =)

Lacey said...

Thank you for posting this April :) I am in the process of figuring out what to do with the large wall going down my staircase and on the divider wall between the dining and living room(that I hate so much but can't tear down since its a rental). We finally got pics up the large wall in the living room above the couch- a project that took over 4 hrs b/c my boyfriend and I were fighting over how I envisioned and wanted it no matter what! Let's just say I won in the end :) Go me! Here's a pic of it on my blog Can't wait to see the rest of your house! I love your house! :)

Barb said...

The final products look great and I'm so glad you shared your process. I ended up buying a set of frames when I wanted to do something similar. I'm sure I could have done something much cooler and less expensive if I really would have thought it out.

Laceyl said...

Thanks for coming by the blog April :)

Davinie Fiero said...

Totally inspired, miss April.

Brenda Hurd said...

beatiful - i'm so glad i found this - my husband doesn't think its possible - now i have instructions!! We've been here 2 months with my frames on the floor because he won't hang them this way. So thanks!!