617.501.4008 cara@carasoulia.com

How to plan a wall gallery in 6 easy steps!

Do some of the rooms in your house look just like they did when you very first moved in?? (ie they’re blank!)  

Have you had “hang some pictures!” on your to-do list forever?  I know it can be overwhelming to work on a project like this.  That’s why I wanted to write you a step by step tutorial on how I plan wall galleries in my own home.  ( spoiler alert:  it’s really not as hard as you think!)

Boston Family Photographer: Advice on Hanging a Wall Gallery

I had a small vertical space in my living room next to the chimney that was just big enough for three framed 11×14 photos. I chose to go ‘matchy matchy’ here with thin gold frames!

Step 1.  Procure the artwork.  The first step is pretty obvious:  you need to pick out what you want to see hanging up on your walls every day!  The photographs you choose don’t have to be perfect-smiling-everybody-look-at-the-camera images!  Pick the ones that remind you of something amazing you did with your family or just silly ones that make you smile every time you look at them!  I recommend printing at www.mpix.com where the print quality is near-professional and the prices are reasonable.

Don’t forget you can include things besides just photographs in your wall gallery!  How about that really neat Jackson Pollack-esque painting your preschooler brought home last week!  These kinds of items can truly make the best points of interest in your wall gallery!

In my son’s room, I used frames with similar (but not exactly matching) natural wood finishes and I combined drawings, photographs, and a special ceramic print of his hands when he was three years old.  This wall gallery is bright and colorful and each element has a story that we love.

Step 2. Procure the frames. Decide if your style is more  ‘matchy-matchy’ or ‘mix and match’.  Either one can really work well.  If you’re not sure, do some searching on Pinterest for “wall gallery ideas”.  The options are truly endless!

Pottery Barn has frames that are very nice quality and work well for the matchy matchy type of wall gallery.  Alternatively, you can mix and match all different frames types and patterns by looking at places like Home Goods or even a consignment shop or your local swap shop!!

In my older son’s room, I used multiple frames that were all different shapes, sizes and colors and I spray painted them all a dark navy blue to give it a cohesive look.  My son loves to draw and we picked a number of his favorites to display over his bed!

Step 3.Make a plan!  This is the fun part!  Measure your wall space.  Lay out all your frames/artwork on the floor.  A good rule of thumb is too keep about 2″ of space between each piece. Rearrange your artwork until you like how it looks!  Be sure to keep within the limits of your space!

I used solely kids’ artwork in the wall gallery above. I love how it adds so much color to our fireplace room and the kids love seeing their creations on display!

Step 4.  Hang it up!   This part might seem intimidating, but you just have to start.  I like to live life on the edge and I usually just wing this kind of thing without too much measuring!  But you certainly can be more precise by cutting out butcher’s block paper in the size and shape of each frame and then hanging those on the wall with double sided tape.  Move the papers around until they look exactly how you want them before you start making a lot of holes in your wall!

Stairways are such a fun place to hang wall galleries.  Include photos from all different generations for added interest! Don’t be afraid to mix color and black & white photos.

Step 5.  Pass the ketchup Yes you read that right…..ketchup!  Here’s a little trick my 80 year old Dad taught me:  Rather than measuring exactly where the hooks are on the back of the frame, place a tiny drop of ketchup on the hooks, then tap the frame against the wall where you want to hang it and VOILA, there is a dab of ketchup on the wall EXACTLY where the nail needs to be!! It sounds so weird, but it works like MAGIC.  Hammer your nail into the wall and don’t forget to wipe the ketchup clean 🙂 You can also use lipstick if you don’t have any ketchup on hand!  This technique is especially helpful for frames with TWO hooks on the back. Those are always so tricky to hang straight! 

Step 6.  Sit back and enjoy!  

Now comes the really easy part…..  enjoy all of your hard work!  Have a question about something in this tutorial?  Send me message!  I hope this inspires you to get started on that wall gallery you’ve been procrastinating about!!


Cara Soulia is a Boston Family Photographer who specializes in capturing beautiful, real moments in families’ lives in a relaxed and natural way.  See more of Cara’s work here or get in touch to find out more about scheduling a family photo session with Cara!

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