Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to Frame a Gallery Wall Without Spending a Fortune


I've seen countless articles and posts discussing the gallery wall. Are they in? Out? Trending? Already passe?  Well, in my opinion -- which you're getting it even if you didn't ask for it -- they're a design classic and will never go out of style. We may not continue to see them highlighted in every HGTV show (is that really a bad thing?) but there are so many ways to approach creating one, and they're such a magnificent way of injecting both presence and personality into a space, that there will always be a way to make them feel fresh.

We have several gallery walls in our home but my favorite is the one in the picture above; it runs up our stairwell and features family photos and paintings from 5 different generations of our two families. I can't tell you how much I love the fact that as my kids go up and down the stairs, they learn about their ancestry. I've caught Rett and Greta sitting on the steps together several times studying the pictures of their relatives and have heard Rett explain the connections to little G  -- "No Greta, that's a our great-great grandfather. That one's our great-grandfather," -- and I so love stopping to point out to each of them where they've inherited their physical features. As Rett says, "there's a piece of each of them in me, Momma," (cue heart bursting with massive quantities of love).

Once friends and clients have seen the "family wall", I'm often asked how I choose my frames and where I purchase them without spending a fortune. Here's the skinny:

Here are the rules I follow when purchasing frames for a free-form gallery wall:
  • Choose a tone and stick to it.  I tend lean towards black and dark wood frames to keep the look streamlined and a little more modern but have done walls using white frames as well. Either way, the gallery as a whole will look much more cohesive -- and the wall more successful -- if the frames are in the same color range.
  • I prefer frames with either a mat or use a floating frame. I think this creates a more polished look. And I usually stick to a solid white mat.
  • When I find a frame I love but don't have a mat for it, I have one cut for to my desired size at a craft shop (which costs just a few dollars).
  • I vary the size of the images and the mats to create visual interest (obviously, this only works for a free form style wall).
  • I like to incorporate a couple of shadow boxes to create dimension on the wall. It's also a great way to display family momentos.
  • I always buy in bulk when I find something I like on sale; even if I don't yet have a piece for the frame.


Here's a round-up of some of my favorite frame sources:
  1.  Room Essentials Wood Frame: $12.99 - 19.99
  2.  Bolton Frame: See site but currently, you can have two Instagram photos framed for $50 using code 2INSTA50
  3. Ribba Frame: $2.99 - $19.99
  4. Tacoma Frame: See site but currently, you can have two Instagram photos framed for $50 using code 2INSTA50
  5.  Studio Decor Frame with Mat: $4.99 - 39.99 
  6.  Essentials Wood Gallery Frame: $10.50 - $55.99
  7. Timeless Frames Shadow Box Display Case: $16.99 - $27.98
  8.  Bella Wood Frame: $9.99 - $15.99
  9. Room Essentials Float Frame: $12.74 - $18.99

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