How to hang a gallery wall in your home.
One hears phrases tossed around, like: “yeah, it’s always the mechanic’s car that needs fixed.” That sometimes applies to photographers, as our time and energy goes towards getting great images onto the walls or coffee tables of our clients, and our own walls end up somewhat bare! We’ve been living in our home for over 7 years, and having been needing to hang some more on our walls!
Lindsey and I had rearranged our dining area, and had a wall that looked depressingly empty. So I embarked on a project (that I assured my lovely wife would take “no time at all!”). Really, it wasn’t difficult; it was just a matter of making the time to do the work, and ordering the correct supplies.
If you’re wanting to spruce things up before a holiday party, or before relatives come to visit, there is still time to make it happen!
- Many frames, not all photographs. We wanted a mixture of a few different mediums; somewhat random placement. Think: organized chaos.
- Keep budget reasonable. We wanted to spend money on the prints and glass (UV glass is a must! There is more on this below.) We bought Ribba frames from IKEA.
- We wanted it to be a history of us as a couple, with some artistic riffs. There are so many pictures of our kids and we LOVE all of them, but we wanted this wall to be more personal.
I started out with a bunch of frames at Ikea, (thumbs up for keeping budget reasonable!). I simply began placing frames on the floor (in the showroom!), and kept going until I knew I had enough to make it work, and that it would fit reasonably within our allotted space. Then, I threw a few extra frames in the cart for some wiggle-room, knowing that they’d get used somehow. *Then, I took this iPhone shot so I could actually remember it all!
At home, I started arranging (and re-arranging) in order to figure out the placement, using the Ikea floor picture as a rough guide. An extra element was added (the deer dinner bell from Dot&Bo), which changed the layout somewhat. This stage is where I sorted out the design, playing with various groupings of images until I was satisfied. My special consultant is pictured below!
Once my table mock-up was just right, I began hanging all of it. I had measured the length and height of the entire installment, and centered it on the space I had. Because of the furniture below, it needed to hang higher than I would have wanted (i.e.: center of artwork at about 5′ high). One indispensable tool for hanging things (especially this many frames together) is a level. For this stuff, I prefer a 24″ ruled level…the ruler markings are what makes this work amazingly! You can mark something 11 1/4″ to the right, at the exact same height, or 19 7/8″ directly above in one fell swoop!
Next, I made small laser prints of lots of different artwork. Since all of the photos would be new prints, we actually hung blank frames before figuring out what went in them. If you’re working on a project and have some frames already filled, then those can help anchor your installation. After some deliberation and a bit of consternation, we made our final selections, and I exported them from Lightroom at their appropriate sizes, sending the files to Miller’s lab to be professionally printed. I strongly recommend their sister lab MPIX for consumer orders. Quick delivery is built into the already reasonable costs. I have noticed that the quality from generic local providers like Wal-Mart and Walgreens continue to deteriorate (let’s be honest: they never set the bar very high except for speed) showing us that “good” prints are harder than ever to come by.
Notice the glare from the window in the image above. This room gets no shortage of sunlight, so I wanted to do two very important things: cut the glare, and make sure that the UV light from the sun wouldn’t damage the photographs over time. So, I went to our local frame shop ArtCrafters, and the friendly folks there kindly cut some new non-glare UV-protective glass (called Conservation Clear) to replace all of the cheap Ikea glass. The next day, my prints arrived (seriously!) and my new glass was ready, so I went about replacing the glass (keeping the matte side outwards, shiny side inwards toward the photograph) and then filling the frames with our new photographs!
Here is the final installation! There is a slight glare, but a small fraction of what it was with the original glass.
We love the finished product, and I think it will be something we can enjoy for years to come. The somewhat organic nature of this installment also ensures that we have flexibility in the future to add more elements while keeping a similar aesthetic. We are currently on the hunt for some vintage bread boards.
Below are the images that we chose for the wall!