home d.i.y.: our gallery wall

home d.i.y.: our gallery wall

  Sydney watches me work in one of her favorite places in the apartment. I love that I can see our gallery wall from my desk every day!

Sydney watches me work in one of her favorite places in the apartment. I love that I can see our gallery wall from my desk every day!

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo on Instagram with a little peek of our gallery wall in the background. Since then I have received so many requests wanting to see more. So, my friends, here you go! 

One of my favorite things in our apartment is the gallery wall we have in the living room. I know that gallery walls are nothing new - in fact, this is my fourth iteration of a gallery wall! Kurt and I hung the very first in my Indianapolis apartment the summer of 2013. What I love most about having a gallery wall is the visual interest it provides to our space and the opportunity to showcase some of our favorite memories. 

The gallery wall features a number of pieces that Kurt and I have collected from our travels. There are also some elements that represent our childhoods and the places we grew up. I mentioned in a recent post that we've lived in three different places in Tallahassee and that, each time we've moved and hung the gallery wall, it's changed a little bit based on the space available. As soon as it is up we both notice how much more the space feels like "home."

The very first time we hung a gallery wall in my Indianapolis apartment Kurt and I were very precise - there were multiple steps  that included measuring and taping out the space on the floor, carefully placing each piece to be hung within the taped area, and, when we were ready to begin hanging, there was more measuring and marking so everything was in it's proper spot. I will be completely honest with you - we have never repeated that process! While it gave us wonderful results the first time, the more we've moved and hung the gallery wall together the more comfortable we've become with just making choices as we go. 

  This was the very first gallery wall in my Indianapolis apartment! The room was so small I couldn't capture the whole wall in one regular photo - I had to take a panoramic shot to get it all! You can see how precisely placed everything is in this first version because of the measuring we did. It's not quite the case anymore!

This was the very first gallery wall in my Indianapolis apartment! The room was so small I couldn't capture the whole wall in one regular photo - I had to take a panoramic shot to get it all! You can see how precisely placed everything is in this first version because of the measuring we did. It's not quite the case anymore!

As Kurt and I have added to the wall together, we have been intentional in finding pieces to include from our travels. Choosing to expand the wall in this way gives us a daily reminder of the adventures we've had together and gives us a chance to share some of those stories and memories with friends and guests. You don't have to build a gallery wall in this way, however, you could focus on family photos or photos of the place you live! That's the nice thing about building a gallery wall - you have the flexibility to make it completely your own!

If you're thinking about hanging a gallery wall in your own home, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.


1. Make sure you have a variety of sized items you plan to include. 

Part of the fun in hanging a gallery wall is putting the puzzle together of different sized pieces! For example, the largest piece we have hanging is a 2' x 3' poster that we picked up during the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. In contrast, the smallest piece is a 6" x 6" framed photo of downtown Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that we purchased together during one of Kurt's visits to my hometown! I find it's important to include these varying sizes because it keeps my eyes moving across the wall. I don't linger too long on one piece because I want to see what's tucked in beside it! Because we are working with such a large wall in our apartment, we have the flexibility to include pieces within a large size range. If you wanted to build a gallery wall using less space, still include pieces of different sizes - just don't work with a range that is so large. 

2. You don't only have to hang framed items. 

One of my favorite pieces hanging in our wall is a painted plate that comes from a set of dishes my mom had growing up. They were hand-painted in Italy and are truly special to me! Because we very rarely have a reason to use these dishes, we don't get to enjoy them as often as I'd like. Including a dish within the gallery helps to fill in those small spaces in the puzzle and gives us a chance to enjoy one of these bright plates every day. By mixing up what is on the wall and incorporating items that aren't framed we open our ability to highlight different parts of our lives and bring more visual interest to the space. 

3. The first time you hang a gallery wall, use a tape measure. 

I remember when we were hanging the gallery wall in my Indianapolis apartment we tried to just go at it without a plan at first. However, we very quickly got frustrated and overwhelmed with trying to eye-ball everything! Choosing to stop and measure the wall so we had a better idea of the actual amount of space we were working with gave us more confidence in the process. Now that we've had some practice we don't rely on measuring nearly as much as we did that first time, but we know the tape measure is available to help us again when we need it! 

4. Putting together a gallery wall doesn't have to be expensive. 

While the first inclination might be to buy those great sets of matching gallery frames from West Elm or Pottery Barn, going that route can get rather expensive. Instead of choosing frames or pieces based on ease of availability I encourage you to choose intentionally - the pieces and frames hanging in our gallery wall have come from a wide variety of places, and the fact that they don't match precisely is something I love about it. We have thrifted some prints, purchased some pieces during our travels, and have found many of our frames by paying attention to when Michael's is running a sale! Out of the entire wall of items, only three of them were custom framed. As long as the items you include have some value and meaning to you, you'll find that it won't matter to others where they came from or how much you spent!


  This corner section of the wall has some of the largest pieces in our collection. We've built our wall with the largest pieces starting from the corner. Something about having the big pieces grounded against another wall doesn't make them seem so big. I also love how the color yellow appears throughout the wall - in the Flower & Garden poster and in the painted plate - and into the globe on the top of our buffet. You can see it pop up in large and small places throughout!

This corner section of the wall has some of the largest pieces in our collection. We've built our wall with the largest pieces starting from the corner. Something about having the big pieces grounded against another wall doesn't make them seem so big. I also love how the color yellow appears throughout the wall - in the Flower & Garden poster and in the painted plate - and into the globe on the top of our buffet. You can see it pop up in large and small places throughout!

  You can see some more yellow in the map as well as more variations in size. The smallest piece we have hanging is in that little black frame above the light switch! I also really like how the round wooden board sticks out among the angles of everything else. It's actually a recipe from the Austrian region of Carinthia that Kurt was given in 2011!

You can see some more yellow in the map as well as more variations in size. The smallest piece we have hanging is in that little black frame above the light switch! I also really like how the round wooden board sticks out among the angles of everything else. It's actually a recipe from the Austrian region of Carinthia that Kurt was given in 2011!

Regardless of the amount of space you have available, I think a gallery wall is always an option to be considered when making home décor choices. If covering an entire wall in your home isn't an option then start small! A cozy corner or a blank space above a small table are great places to test out this idea.

You also don't have to limit them to one place in your home. I'm working on another, smaller gallery for wedding photos in our bedroom. Once it's finished I'll share it with all of you as another example of how this décor option can make any place feel warm!  

I'd love to hear from those of you who have attempted a gallery wall in your own homes. How have you succeeded? What tripped you up in your planning or hanging? And if you're thinking about tackling a gallery wall but haven't yet, what is causing you to hesitate? Share your thoughts in the comments and tag photos of your own gallery walls on Instagram with #youmeserendipity so we can enjoy your beautiful spaces together!

visiting the Tallahassee downtown market

visiting the Tallahassee downtown market

feeling patriotic for July 4th!

feeling patriotic for July 4th!

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