How-to Make Your First Gallery Wall

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Want to create a gallery wall?

This hot new phenomenon in home decor is totally awesome. However, some of you (like me) might not even know where to begin. I have combed through so many tutorials on-line, but couldn't quite get a grip on how to make my gallery wall as perfect as the ones I saw. However, in the spirit of guidance, I powered through to bring you some important tips I discovered while making my own, very first gallery wall. 


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What I did to help you, but wouldn't recommend...

When I started thinking about a gallery wall, the first thing was where do I want one? I came up with three possible places - the main entry staircase wall, the blank wall in our living room, and the guest room. Now, here's the part I wouldn't recommend: Because I didn't know any better, I literally went out to Hobby Lobby and Target (my favorite wall decor shops) and bought a ton of items I thought I could use for each of the three walls - literally anything that caught my eye. I went into frenzy-mode. And of course, when I got home, I decided to start with the biggest wall of them all - the staircase. Mistake. Talk about an overwhelming mess...

I had 4 tape measures out! 4!! Pretty big space on the wall, but look at how much crap is laid out! And this isn't even half of it! I had an entire cart full, top and bottom. Half of the items I ended up returning, which I planned to do anyway, but the worst part is I didn't even have the pictures from our wedding yet, so you can see some of the frames even have sticky notes on them. I also realized what I had here didn't create what I wanted from a gallery wall - personalization. 

When my husband came home, he talked some sense into me. He helped me pick out the things we both liked that fit our style and had the most meaningful sayings. He also reminded me to start small and work your way up. Thank goodness for sensible husbands. That's when I decided I would put the art we liked to the side and focus on the guest room's gallery wall - a much smaller area to fill.

Working through the Guest Room Gallery Wall

The guest room is black, gray, and orange as the accent color, so as I was going through the items I bought, I put aside what I thought would work best in that room. I also had a ton of cheap Target frames from various wedding parties (engagement party, shower, etc.) that I was trying to find a use for - they just so happened to be black. That made it easy to decided what size the photos should be. Because this is a guest room, we wanted to keep the theme about family and friends, so we chose various pictures of those that we know will visit often. I had some regular photos in a few frames already on the wall, but something wasn't right, so to make it fit the gray theme better, I printed all my pictures in black and white. 

From Target

From Target

For this gallery wall, I picked a "Rise & Shine" sign and an 8x10 frame I got half off from Hobby Lobby shown above, the two small wall decor items from Target above, and my black frames I already had. Still I had an issue... the "Rise & Shine" sign was wood, the arrow was wood with gold accents, and the heart was gold with a white pallet behind it. These were super cute items, but totally not in the right color scheme for this room, so...

Where store bought meets DIY

When I painted the accent wall in the guest room, I had some paint left over. Also, because I was originally going to stencil the accent wall with orange, I had some sample orange paint leftover too! The sweet sound of store bought meets DIY... Let's paint! And paint I did. 

Changing the color... where store bought meets DIY

Since it was two-toned, I wanted to keep the general feel of the design, but make it orange and gray to fit the guest room.

In addition to painting the arrow, I also painted the heart and the "Rise & Shine" sign to keep the color scheme going.

Once everything is color-coded... the personalization!

Now it was time for the personalization part. Even more than having the room colors represented on the gallery wall, I wanted to give it a hint of me. So, I took to creating with my Silhouette Cameo! What could go better in a guest room than a homemade welcome sign? I used the 8x10 frame from Hobby Lobby, which double as my big center piece (I read a few articles talking about how a gallery wall needs a major focal point). There's a lot out there on how to create gold-leafing, but the room was more in the silver-leafing arena (if that's a thing). Lucky for me, they sell silver printable foil for the Cameo. I spent a little time customizing my design in the program, took some gray paper I had from my scrapbooking equipment, and came up with this...

Note: If you don't have a Silhouette or anything that cuts things out, Etsy has tons of shops that make custom signage... Also, don't mind my reflection in this picture... it's so you know I'm not a robot #keepinitreal

Playing with the layouts

Once you have your pictures in the frames, your personalization, and your items chosen and/or painted, it's time to decide how you want it to look on the wall. After playing with the layouts for awhile, I had a thought... I should probably measure the space I want the gallery wall to take up. So again, I went back to the multiple tape measures and laid out the ideal space to work within. I didn't snap a picture of the tape measures laid out, but I did end up coming up with this layout. Funny enough, as I was putting it on the wall, I did alter it slightly (see the last picture).

Actually hanging the gallery wall

After all, you would think actually hanging the items would be the easiest part, right? Well, for you it will be! I, on the other hand, was at a loss. I don't know what my problem is exactly and maybe you have it too, but I can't hang a straight picture to save my life. And I try really hard (insert sad face). Even after asking my husband for help and having him tell me, "Well, this is center, so do you just want me to hang it or, like, do you got it?" Thanks for the help, no-help! I was determined to figure out, so I could have a true account of the struggle. Oh, the struggle... Lucky for you, here's what I came up with that actually worked!

For the small 4x6 frames, I used the  3-M picture frame strips. They didn't work as well for the bigger item because I had a smaller size, but they are holding up for the little guys.

Neat hanging wall decor trick!

To avoid having to measure between the holes and measure on the wall and then level it, a handyman that came by showed me this trick... Draw a mark on your level the correct distance and then transfer it!

Center the space and level it

Use a piece of painter's tape to make your leveled area as to how tall and wide you want the gallery wall to go.

Trick to leveling circular decor

For determining if a circular-shaped item is level, I used a piece of painter's tape lined up with the lettering in the frame. Then, I used the level with that, so I could make sure. 

I would recommend hanging the big item first, your center focal point, and work your way out. It's hard to see, but the middle of the gallery is marked on the long piece of painter's tape in the above picture. That same piece of painter's tape is how high and how wide I wanted to go with the gallery. Once I had the big piece, I started with the heart wall art, then the two pictures in the top right corner of the picture below. After that I hung the pictures below the heart, then the arrow, and then the two pictures below the arrow. I originally had the "Rise & Shine" below the main focal point, but as I held it up, it looked strange, so I called an audible. What do you think?

Have gallery wall fear? It's common! So here are some tips to make your first gallery wall! Want more? Sign up for new posts:

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Have gallery wall fear? It's common! So here are some tips to make your first gallery wall! Want more? Sign up for new posts:

With love,

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