Gallery Wall How-To

Hey there!

I’ve always loved displaying photos.  They really tell the story of where we’ve been, remind us of happy moments and show the beauty of everyday life.

The problem was that for many years, we had a willy-nilly collection of frames and no surfaces to speak of for a proper display (for some reason many of them didn’t have a hook on the back) so the overall effect was junky, disorganized and cluttered… not exactly the warm fuzzy feelings listed above.

our old mish-mash of frames

So we decided to do a grid-style gallery wall.

First, we decided to get matching frames (and no more without hooks on the back!).  We headed to the least expensive place we could think of to find frames, Walmart.  We found these classic all-white beauties and bought an armload in different sizes.

Then, we chose which of the original framed photos we wanted to use on the wall, and which photos of our happy new addition (our baby girl!) we wanted to add.  Yay!  The fun part.  Again, we headed to Walmart to use the self-serve photo-printing machines to print blow-ups of our favorite pics.  (They usually have these machines at pharmacies too.)

Then, our first attempt at the gallery wall.  The first time we put it up, it took forever.  Even with the best laser-line level, tape measure and math, well, let’s just say behind each frame was a cluster of almost-right holes.  To be fair, the task is doubled when there are two hooks on the back of the frame, because despite the best measurements they never quite seem to line up.  Oh, and the walls in our 60+ year-old house aren’t straight.  Very frustrating!

Our First Gallery Wall

Once we were done, the overall effect was very sweet.   In retrospect however, they were a bit too far apart and kind of got lost on the giant wall.

Months later, we took it all down to repaint the wall a (much!) darker color.  (Oh, and maybe to repair the holes too.)

Now, how to put it all back up?

Enter Pinterest.  I came across so many gallery wall options, styles and tricks, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  Curious?  Have a peek at my photography pinterest board!  It’s where I keep all my inspiration for beautiful photos, photography tips and display ideas.

I decided to try a really cool trick using wax paper (that I suspected might be too good to be true).  Well, it wasn’t!  It’s so good that it is true.

Check out how I did it:

1.  I measured the space.

2.  We’re adding a backrest to the banquette bench, so I taped off where it would go.

3.  I factored in the height of the crown molding that will go up shortly, and taped that too.

4.  I also took the hanging chandelier into consideration.  No use having photos hidden behind it.

5.  Next, I put down four rows of wax paper on the floor, and taped them together.

6.  I played with the layout of the frames on the ground, making sure all the outside edges lined up and the spaces in between were even.

7.  Next, I flipped them all over (and did a quick remeasure since they all moved a tiny bit).

8.  I gently placed the wax paper on top, making sure not to move the frames.

9.  Using a Sharpie, marked an X right on the wax paper where all the hooks were.

10.  Taped the paper to the wall.  Hammered in some nails on all the X’s.

11.  Hung the frames in the grid, and voila!

Hope you like it!  We love to hear what you think, so please leave us your thoughts!

Till next time,


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Val Lonergan is the founder of, where she shares happiness hacks for purposeful people. To get the ZenShmen cheatsheet to jumpstart your joy - 10 easy things you can do right this minute to hack your way to increased happiness - join the free newsletter.
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  • Reply

    Hi Kim,
    Thanks so much for the great feedback! I love those frames; they're so cute but the double hooks in the back do make them tricky to hang straight. What would we do without Pinterest? xo

  • Reply

    Hello my dear kindred spirit, I just bought the SAME frames last week from walmart (recognized the cute Asian girl in the frame!) But I hung them using the WRONG technique! Your wall and room look amazing as does the high chair. Well done!!

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