My New (Thrifted) Gallery Wall

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My New (Thrifted) Gallery Wall

Let me start by saying that I love photographs.  Yes, I know, pretty much everyone likes a good photo, but I LOVE photographs.  It doesn’t matter if they’re old photos, or new ones, or studio shots, or candid camera phone photos — in my opinion, they’re all great.  Finishing this project means I finally have a place to show off a bunch of my fave photos and I couldn’t be happier!

One of the worst things about our big move west was that I had to put my long planned gallery wall on hold.  The other not so great thing is living in a rental.  Technically, we are allowed to paint if our landlord approves the colors, and we paint over it before we leave.  That seems like a lot of work to me.  So, we live with white walls.  White walls with no nail holes for us to fill (at my husband’s insistence).  To say that the bare white walls annoyed me would be an understatement.  There’s just something so bleh about naked walls.

What’s a girl to do?  Quit moping around, fix the problems, and get some photos up in this place!  I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I did it.  I made my gallery wall, and I love it.  There’s not much space in our budget right now for home decor, but you’d be surprised what you can do when you’re determined.  All in all, including frames, paint, primer, command strips, and whatever else, I spent under $30!  Not too shabby.

I collected a whole bunch of frames from thrift shops and garage sales, the most expensive one was $3!  I don’t think I will ever, ever, EVER buy a frame for full price again.  Many were $0.99.  Oh, and fun tip, if you buy a frame with no glass, don’t go crazy and buy glass at the craft or framing store, just buy another cheap frame with the same size glass.  You’ll save anywhere between $5-15 doing that.  By the time I was done, I had 15 frames, of all different shapes, colors, and materials.

thrifted frames

After I got a bunch of frames, I knew what sizes to look for to round out the arrangement

Being the Pinterest freak that I am, I had visions of mis-matched frames painted the same color dancing in my mind.  Once the idea was there, I had to go with it.  I’d never done anything like this before, but I bit the bullet and said “Hello, spray paint,” and I’m so glad I did.  Seriously, it’s my new best friend.  That’s a whole other subject though.  The basic frame preparation process is as follows:

1.  Gather up your frames

unprimed frames

Hello, frames – don’t mind the weights, that’s another project

2.  Snap shots of your kitty posing by the frames

cat, frames

She’s a model

3.  Prime the frames.  I used Zinsser Cover Stain spray primer.

primed frames

Primed and ready

4.  Give each frame 2 coats of paint.  I used Rustoleum American Grey spray paint.

I don’t have a photo of this step as I staggered it over several days.

Next came some final arranging and a quick sketch of the plan.

It looked like a very big gallery when on the floor, I even got out the tape measure to make sure it would fit the wall.

It looked like a very big gallery when on the floor, I even got out the tape measure to make sure it would fit the wall.

Sometimes you just need to put pencil to paper.

Sometimes you just need to put pencil to paper.

I don’t think I can express enough how useful that sketch of the plan was.  I used it when choosing photos, for planning the mats, their measurements, EVERYTHING.  It looked a lot different by the end of the process.

Definitely used.

Definitely used.

Now comes the difficult part — at least it was the difficult part for me.  It was so hard to choose photos for the wall!  I know it’s not permanent and I can always change them out, but it was still so hard.  I ended up with a pretty wide selection, but we’ll go into more detail with that in a bit.

Lucky for me, I own my own matboard cutter.  I really recommend one if you’re planning on doing a lot of framing.  Mine is a very basic model, but it serves my purposes.  I believe it’s the Logan “Compact.”  The process of cutting out all the mats was so long, but it was so, so worth it.  I have perfectly custom mats at a fraction of what I would have to pay to have them done professionally.

My favorite custom mat - love it!

My favorite custom mat – love it!

After putting the photos in their frames, the last step was attaching said frames to the wall.  I’ve already mentioned my husband’s obsession with making no holes in the walls for us to fill when we move out, so enter Command strips.  They are magnificent.  I used their picture hanging kits, which are basically sticky velcro.  They couldn’t have been easier to use.  I didn’t think to photograph the process, but I’ll be sure to do that  and make a post next time I use them.

Being the rebel I am, I eyeballed the final placement on the wall.  The wall, by the way, is in our dining room.  I chose it because it’s a huge white eyesore that stares at me all the time, and it also happens to be visible all the way from the other end of the house.  It feels so good to no longer have that white wall taunting me all the time.  Now as soon as I get into the hallway on the complete other end of the house, I see pretty frames and even prettier faces looking back at me.  It’s fantastic.

So, after a lot of patient thrift hunting, spray painting, and photo picking…

Here it is!

gallery wall, American Gray, thrifted frames, spray painted frames

dining room, gallery wall

dining room, gallery wall

The photos, in case you’re curious are detailed below.  I tried to get an even mix of my side of the family and his, as well as a few different types of photos (candid, studio, posed, etc.).  I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy with this layout for a while.

See below for descriptions of photos

See below for descriptions of photos

1.  My husband and I, along with his parents and sisters at our wedding

2.  Our cat, Cali

3.  A wedding shot

4.  My husband and I with my parents, brother, sister in law, and niece and nephew

5.  The babies in our life.  My goddaughter, our niece, and our nephew

6.  My husband as a toddler with his monkey

7.  Cute studio shot of us a little after our engagement

8.  Some candids of us together: on the big island during our honeymoon, in our backyard with the pets, and at Niagara Falls

9.  Us being goofy in the photo booth at the wedding

10.  Our dog, Cheyanne

11.  Hilarious photo of my parents trying to wrangle a mad 2 year old and a baby.  They’ll likely kill me for sharing this.

12.  Favorite photo strips from the wedding:  my brother, cousin and I, my best friend from HS and I, HS friends reunited, old roommate and husband, husband and his sisters

13.  Me as a toddler eating cake batter

14.  My husband’s parents on vacation, just a cute photo of them

15.  Us kissing on our  honeymoon *awwwww*

I’ve entered Creating with the Stars over at East Coast Creative.  If you could click on my link (#354) on the contest page here, that would be awesome!

Thanks!

 

Shared over Say Not Sweet Anne

 

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4 responses »

  1. Awesome job! Your photo gallery looks great! I, too, am a big fan of photos and want to put up as many as I can in our small apartment. The gallery idea is a great way to do just that! Bonus: you can always add to it!! 🙂
    And I’m definitely going to start checking out thrift stores for photo frames — I always spend way too much on them at places like Target and Michael’s. Even when they’re on sale, they’re not that cheap.

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