Family Wall Galleries

Dear Gail: My husband and I have just gotten married and we both come from very large families. We would like to have family photos around the house, without them taking over. I’ve been collecting picture frames for awhile, but just don’t know the best way to display them or place them out. Do you have any tips? Lorena

Dear Lorena: Family photos are what make a house a home. Everyone loves to see pictures from past goods times to relive favorite memories. But with combing two large families, you don’t want so many pictures out that it looks like the frame department or a family shrine.

First, sort through your pictures and pull out your favorites. Pictures from special days, weddings, birth’s, vacations, family members or friends that have a special place in your life and heart, and ones that just make you smile. These should be pictures that you would like to have out all the time. Ones that you don’t plan on changing out.

With them, create a picture wall. I like to use a nice sized wall in a hallway.   An area where you, and your family and friends will pass by when visiting. A wall in a hallway is better then over a piece of furniture because it lets you stand in front of them at eye level and enjoy.

A good size is 66″ wide by 42″ high and about 36″ from the floor. You don’t want it too high or low, so that you can’t see the pictures on the top and have to stoop to see the ones on the bottom.

A good way to help keep the pictures confined so that they don’t start spreading on the wall is to use molding, like you see here. Place the molding directly on the wall to act as a large picture frame. It is as simple as using straight molding and then corner blocks, so there is no mitering. Believe me, if I can do it, you can. Then depending upon your color scheme and the frame colors, paint the inset a contrasting color to the molding and your wall color.

With the pictures selected, see what frames you already have to use and then go shopping for the rest. Mix the frames sizes and shapes to give the gallery more interest. Again your color scheme and homes’ theme will help direct the color and style of the frames. One of my favorites is to use two colors of frames: silver & gold, black & white, dark & light stains or gloss & matt finishes.

Now the reasons most people don’t do wall galleries, is laying them out and putting them up. Well, I have two easy solutions for you.

The first way is to cut a piece of brown wrapping paper the size of your gallery inset. Place it on the floor and start laying the frames on the paper. Once you have it the way you like it, trace each frame, place a mark where the nail needs to go to hang the frame and most importantly write a description of the photo, so that you remember what frame went where. Now tape the paper onto the wall, nail through each of the nail marks, tear the paper off the wall and hang up the frames.

The second way is to cut a template of each frame and then play with the layout by taping them up on the wall. Once in place, again nail through the paper, remove and hang. I prefer the first option because this way I can see how each picture and frame looks next to each other.

Don’t try and fill every bit of space. Leave anywhere from 1″ to 3″ between the frames. In those areas where you have 3″ add your favorite word or saying: Times To Remember, This Is the Day, Always & Forever, Memories, or Friends Are Family. You can add them with stencils, transfers or hand lettering.

Now take the rest of your pictures and place them in photo albums and scrapbooks. But don’t put them away. Lay them out on your coffee table, in guest rooms or your entry table.

Another quick idea is to also have a living photo calendar. Have one wall where you have a frame for January through December and change it with each month. This is a great way to enjoy a special picture for a while before it is filed away.

By Gail Mayhugh of GMJ Interiors


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