One of my favorite things to do in my client spaces when there is an important focal wall in a bedroom, great room or hallway is to create an inexpensive gallery wall with family pictures. Of course, gallery walls have been a popular trend for years now because it’s such an easy and inexpensive way to create a statement wall. However, I wanted to show you some super fast shortcuts that is the easiest gallery wall that you could ever do that’s so easy and fast!
Gallery walls are such a great way to personalize a wall with favorite family photos. It’s also a fantastic way to pull in a certain color or finish. In my latest client project, I wanted to pull in more black into their great room space as we were layering the space with black and white so I selected inexpensive black frames with mattes and black and white family images to incorporate those colors. As you can see below, the wall we selected for the gallery wall is very important in this open space so making it a focal wall with drama is what was needed.
The black frames gave us the punch of black that we needed but keep in mind that you could do the same thing with silver, brass and white if there is color on the wall.
Because this home was new construction, we were able to have the three black/brass lights installed at the time the electrical went into the kitchen. However, if you like the light idea and you have electrical on your focal wall, check with an electrician about the possibility of having sconces installed. You may be surprised to know that it’s easier than you think for an add lights on a wall that already has electrical.
We also wanted the lights on our gallery wall to stand out so we selected these gorgeous inexpensive black and brass library sconces. (affiliate link)
So let’s jump into these quick and easy shortcuts for hanging the gallery wall.
For this particular black and white galley wall, I selected black 16 x 20 frames that I picked up from Hobby Lobby in person. I had to buy the 16 x 20 white mats separately but there are tons of black frames on the market that come with a white mat included. We selected black frames with black and white photos to incorporate more black into this kitchen/great room wall.
Have the Photos Printed
I used PicMonkey online here to turn the photos into black and whites. I also cropped the images in PicMonkey to 11 x 14, which is opening of our white mats. I like to use Sam’s Club or Walmart for printing black and whites. The quality is really good. My client just uploaded the nine family images and selected 11 x 14’s and picked them up an hour later.
Remove Frame Paper and Use
All frames come with a paper photo insert that may just be text or a photo paper of a cute couple or family. Don’t throw the paper inserts away because we will use these to layout the gallery wall with rolled Scotch tape behind the top two corners on the paper (so you can easily move around) like this:
Find the Top Center
Begin by figuring out where you want you want the top center of your middle top frame to begin. If it helps, you can begin by roughly laying out all of the frame papers to get you in the zone. Keep in mind that you will need to account for a 1/2″-1″ difference between the paper and the actual end of the lip of the frame (the paper insert is only glass measurement). Place your first paper insert where the center of the paper is the center of the wall.
Create Cardboard Square
Next, as you play with your layout, keep in mind the rows in between the papers (both on side and top and bottom) should be the exact same width so everything is balanced and cohesive. For this gallery wall with 16 x 20 frames, we decided a good distance/width between the papers should be 3 3/4″. We then cut out a cardboard square that was exactly 3 3/4″ squared like this below:
By creating a cardboard square, you can hold up both in between the papers and top and bottom to make sure that you are perfectly aligned and adjust accordingly. Also, the paper should be even along the whole width of your cardboard square for leveling (both top/bottom and sides). This really comes in handy after you have done your first top center paper and you begin laying the other papers and gallery wall layout.
Use a Level
While the cardboard square also works well as a fantastic level, once you finished laying your frame insert paper and adjusted with the cardboard square, double check all of the papers with a level just to be safe.
I like to hang gallery walls with two nails on both corners. This keeps from having to constantly adjust frames and keeps the frames secure and in place. I use a nail that has a good size head on it to keep the frame from slipping out. Below where the red X’s are is exactly where we add a nail. Be sure and place the nail on the exact same spot as the other side to keep frame level. The black frames I selected had the space to hang this way. If your frame does not have a lip at the top to rest on nails, you’ll need to hang with wire to keep the frames from moving.
Hang the Frames
Next, you’re ready to hang your frames. As you hang frames, you will see a spot or two that may need a slight tweak. Just hit the nail gently either up or down to adjust as needed. You will want to make sure that your frames are flush against the wall and won’t move.
It’s as simple as that! The cardboard square makes all the difference and makes it so much easier and faster to do your gallery wall layout.
There are so many endless possibilities when it comes to gallery walls! If you have a blank wall in a space, this is the easiest way to create a beautiful focal wall.
Thanks for stopping by today friends!
I absolutely love the sconces! Such a classic look for a modest price. Thank you for simplifying the logistics of creating a gallery wall. I hope to create one in our new house.
My pleasure Penny! It’s so easy with the cardboard square! Thanks for your note! 🙂
Awesome tips! I’ve always wanted a gallery wall. I even have a Pinterest board just on gallery wall ideas lol. As I was looking at your photos I realized my house’s floor plan is exactly like this one in the main common areas dining room, living room, kitchen, even the hallways! Mine is not built yet but I’m definitely showing these to my husband to give him an idea of what our space will look like.
Nancy Kinkead says
Candy what a difference that made !
Love the wall lights looks amazing !
Love your designs and knowledge!
Laura M says
Hi Cyndy — great tip!
Can you share deails about the island? I’m planning to expand the size of the island in my flip house and adding those legs and wrapping in shiplap is exactly what I had in mind.
Tracy Bennett says
I love this! Do you know what paint color is on the wall? (the white) 🙂 Thank you!
Courtney Edmonds says
Where did you order the downlights?