Love the look of a collage of family pictures on a living room wall? This easy idea to make a family photo gallery wall will help you hang one like a pro!
Hanging picture frames on the wall showcasing photos of loved ones is a great way to personalize your home decor. However it can be daunting to figure out how to make it look right. Today, we’re sharing the secret to creating a family photo gallery wall. You’ll love this super simple and easy idea.
Over the past year, we’ve been working on a main floor makeover of our ranch-style house in West Michigan. Last week, I shared all our plans and home makeover ideas for the renovation project. At a high level, we decided to change all the paint and flooring plus add some decorative touches to give our home industrial or farmhouse style.
One of the easy projects we tackled was creating a family photo gallery wall in our living room. We had a big wall along the walkway behind our couch toward our boys’ bedroom, playroom and bathroom.
After we painted the walls a light gray color, I didn’t want to put the same art work back on the wall. So I talked my husband into putting up a family photo gallery wall instead. (FYI – The light gray paint color we used is called Stone Isle HGSW1496 from Sherwin Williams.)
How to Make a family photo gallery
Today, I’ll show you the secret way to hang a family photo gallery wall. This easy idea doesn’t involve a bunch of measuring and guesswork. It’s fast, simple and you’ll only put holes in your wall once!
What you need:
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DIY Tools and Supplies Needed:
- Power drill
- Drywall anchors and screws
- Roll of white paper or brown kraft paper
- Painter’s tape
- Pencil or pen
- Measuring tape
- Picture frames
- Monogram letter
- Anything else you want to include in your family photo gallery wall
1. roll out the paper on the floor
This right here is the big secret: Use a wide roll of paper to create a template for where you want to hang the pictures in your family photo gallery wall.
I first learned this technique a few years ago when Rita Joy from Harbour Breeze Home shared how she uses wrapping paper to create a template for hanging a gallery wall. It is absolutely brilliant. You can lay out your entire project ahead of time so you only have to nail once!
I rolled the paper on the floor directly in front of the wall so I could easily cut the length I needed to fit my space.
2. Gather and choose your picture frames and decor
Next, find all the picture frames and other decor items you might want to use in your family photo gallery wall. You may find like I did, that you need to actually tape two lengths of paper together in order to make a template that fits all of your decor.
My gallery wall includes several different styles of picture frames. I also included a few pieces of decor like a clock and a monogram letter for our last name. Later in this post, I’ll share some tips and ideas that can help you decide what to include in your own family photo gallery wall.
3. Layout your picture frames and decor on paper
Once you’ve decided which frames and decor you’re going to use in your family photo gallery wall, start laying them out and arranging them on the paper. Keep moving them around until you find a layout that you like. Try to balance the size of the picture frames so you don’t have all large frames on one side and all small on the other.
One idea is to put something eye-catching in the middle, then layout smaller collages on either side of it. Line up bottoms of frames or tops of frames and keep moving things around until you’re satisfied.
It helps to take photos of each layout on your cell phone so you can easily compare the different arrangements that you’ve tried. Once you land on one or two layouts you really like, you can even text the pics to a friend to get a second opinion.
4. Trace around each piece of decor
After you’ve determined a layout that you love, use a pen or pencil to trace around each item on the paper. This becomes the template so you know how it all needs to go on the wall.
As you lift each picture frame or decor item off the paper, measure where the drywall screw needs to be to hang that item. Mark the spot with a small dot or X on the paper template.
5. Tape the template to the wall
Now use painters tape to attach the template on the wall where the family photo gallery will go. Use a level to get it straight. This is especially important for any item in your gallery that requires two drywall screws to hang it.
6. Insert drywall screws and anchors to hang your gallery wall
Finally it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Use your drill to create holes in the spots you marked on the template. With each hole, insert a drywall anchor and then a screw to hang your picture frame.
Go right through the paper, leaving the template on the wall until you’ve got drywall screws in place for every item that’s going in your gallery wall. After you’ve put all the drywall screws in the wall, go ahead and tear the template off the wall. Then hang up your decor.
7. Choose photos and Stand back to admire your family photo gallery wall.
Last, but not least choose and print the photos you want to display in all your frames, if you haven’t done so already. Typically I get ours printed at Costco. However, lately I’ve found Amazon Photos to be a quick and inexpensive way to get photos printed and shipped directly to my home.
How to Choose what to include in a family photo gallery wall
Okay, so now that you know how to hang a family photo gallery wall, it’s time to get inspired by what to include in yours. Here are some great ideas for you:
Choose the same style of picture frames
Going with picture frames that are all the same style or color gives a unified and cohesive look to your gallery wall. Using all black frames, all white frames or all dark wood frames are bold, modern and elegant.
In my case, however, bold and modern wasn’t the look I was trying to achieve. For our farmhouse style family photo gallery wall, I combined industrial metal frames and rustic wood frames. I also used some black frames that I could reuse from other areas of our home.
Use black and white photos
Another way to unify your family gallery wall is by using all black and white photos. Most online photo printers will allow you to convert a color photo into black and white. Or you can use a photo editing tool like PicMonkey for a small fee.
Incorporate Functional And Personalized Pieces Of Decor
Find ways to make your gallery wall both useful and personal. Here are four easy ideas:
- Clock – We wanted a clock in our living room so we could tell when it’s time to get out the door for school in the morning or when it’s time to go to bed at night. I found this gorgeous industrial pulley clock at Hobby Lobby. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have it online. You could DIY your own version though using a pulley like this and this industrial metal clock.
- Monogram Initial – Using the first initials from each person in your family or just using the first letter of your last name is a great way to personalize the decor in your home. I found this galvanized metal letter Y framed with rustic wood at Hobby Lobby. (If you don’t have a Hobby Lobby near you, this one is similar on Amazon.) You could also easily make your own monograms like this decorative decoupaged letter or this shadow box initial art.
- Maps – In one of the frames, put a map that means something special to your family. Here are 14 great map ideas to inspire you.
- Children’s Art – Take one or two of your kids’ best art pieces and frame those along side your photos. These DIY dowel rod frames add farmhouse style charm to any kid’s art. Or you can hang binder clips in open back frames like I did in my craft room:
Hang picture frames in unusual ways.
One of the picture frame sets in our farmhouse style gallery wall includes an industrial metal pipe. I love how it has three rustic wood picture frames, each hanging by two loops of thick rope. I bought ours like that at Hobby Lobby. However, you could easily DIY your own version using a small industrial pipe curtain rod or towel bar.
If industrial pipes aren’t your thing, use a regular curtain rod like I did in our boys’ playroom. I just looped wide pieces of wired burlap ribbon then affixed the ribbon to the frames with super glue.
display a motivational quote
Another great way to personalize a family gallery wall is to display a quote or saying that means something to you. Our wall includes a motivational quote from Maya Angelou to remind us “all great achievements require time.” My friend LZ from LZ Cathcart Design and Illustration made it for me. If you want to make something similar with your favorite quote, this is the easiest tutorial for how to make a wood sign with inspirational type.
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Also while you’re here, be sure to check out these other home decor projects on Ideas for the Home by Kenarry®. They’d be great additions to a family photo gallery wall:
- Family Sign Wall Decor – Rustic Arrow Shape
- DIY Mirror Upcycle: Transform Your Old Plastic Mirrors
- Easy DIY Wood Sconces
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