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The Most Efficient Way to Create a Gallery Wall

A few simple tricks for creating a perfect gallery wall.

I’m a tease. There, I admit it. I told y’all I was ready to share our gallery wall at the beginning of last week when my photos from Shutterfly arrived, and then typical perfectionist me decided to spend days picking and tweaking and analyzing. But hark! It is done!
I’m so excited about the naked-wall-that-is-no-more. Surprisingly, I tried a strategy that even hairbrained little me could do to prevent a bajillion nail holes going into our drywall, and that makes it even more exciting.
Two weeks ago, I shared my Distressed Frames that I gave a little makeover with chalk paint and Vaseline, and they worked perfectly to add a vintage flair to our wall. I had seen this gallery wall planning technique on several other blogs, and I gave it a go. And then tweaked it a bit…as I do EVERYTHING it seems. Life’s all about striving for self-betterment, right? That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
First thing, I used a roll of old dollar store Christmas wrapping paper to trace and cut out each of the frames for the gallery wall. The entire time I was doing this step, I kept thinking, “Really? Is this necessary? This seems like an obnoxious step. I could just wing it and nail holes where I think the frames look good as I go.” Don’t listen to that voice. This step is worth it to not cut corners. I’m glad I stuck it out, and you’ll see why.

Once your frames are cut out, lay the paper pieces over the frames and mark where to put the nail holes. I also wrote a short description of what the frame was so I could visualize it a little better as I planned.

I used clear tape once I started experimenting with the frame cut-outs on the wall so I could visualize the gallery. The colored painters tape was distracting to me, but if that’s all you have on hand, it still works.

Once I had all of my paper pieces up, I realized I still needed several more smaller frames to fill in the gaps. And I decided to move around a few of them. This was the part when I was SO GLAD I went through the tracing/cutting process of the paper. I would have hated to nail in those frames only to discover I didn’t really 100% love it.

Once I was happy with the frame placement, I recruited Robert, as I usually do (this man deserves an award for putting up with me), to hammer in my nail hole placements. (Okay, I honestly could have done this step but he insisted on helping me because he’s just awesome like that.)

When I was toying around with the frame placements though, I figured out the most efficient way to create the perfect gallery wall.
Staring at that blank wall can be daunting and really confusing on where to even begin, so I started with the biggest frames first as my anchor for the entire gallery. I put those five big frames (in blue below) on the wall first, leaving enough space between for at least a 5×7.
Then, I placed my smaller frames, 8×10 and below, to fill in the spaces between the larger ones.

 For the last step, I made sure to space out my S initials so that I didn’t end up with any too close together. I paid attention to textures too.

And that was it! It took forever to decide on the photos I wanted for the frames, but it was so much fun taking a trip down memory lane as I sifted through all of them. Do you recognize some of them from our Beach Trip a few weeks ago? Waking up before sunrise was SO worth it for those!

After watching me tweak this thing for a week, even Lola got frustrated with me I think. And then I took about fifty photos of the wall as I marveled over it.

The lower wall of our stairs is still blank, but I’m in search of a dresser or console table of some kind for DVD storage before I can tackle that part. Once I get that figured out, we’ll be able to move the shelves under our TV to the office and start building our faux fireplace. (Did you think I’d forgotten? I told y’all, I’m a tease when it comes to this stuff.)  This cookie cutter of ours is looking less and less basic, and I’m loving it! Our little home is finally developing some personality.

What do you think? Any tweaking I still need to do? Believe me, I’ll do it.***Update:  You can check out the full stairwell gallery wall here!

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88 Comments

  1. You never cease to amaze! this is brilliant..and I want a cowboy handyman lol. Guess I am going to have to buy the hubby a hat lol. I cant wait to see what you bring this week!! see you tonight!!
    Jess @liverandomlysimple

  2. Oh my goodness, this is GENIUS! You have just saved my future frustration and swiss cheese looking wall. Having a gallery wall going up my stairs is on my DIY list, but I was loathing starting it. This is such a great idea! Sharing today at The Handmade Hangout at Redouxinteriors and pinning. Thanks!

  3. A lovely personality it is, too! The extra work and patience paid off. I totally agree about spacing things out – and would not change a thing in your final composition. 🙂

  4. I absolutely love it. I’m one for “winging it,” so I love the paper set up idea. Now to choose between a million photos to put up 🙂

  5. This looks fabulous! I want to do a gallery wall on the stairs to my finished basement. You have just given me the courage to do it! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yay! Thanks for pinning 🙂 It took me about 4 months to collect the frames with frequent trips to thrift stores, but part of the fun is the hunt. Let me know when you do one. I’d love to see!

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