Gallery Wall with Shelves

I’m so excited to share with you my latest-most-favoritest project: a gallery wall! It came together better than I expected and it’s one of my favorite wall spaces to date. I’m here to share my tips and tricks to hopefully inspire you!

I’d been debating what to do with the wall for a while- the living room wall between our hallway and closet. It’s not central to the living room but it still felt a bit too big and empty. I was originally thinking about some sort of large sign/saying but I wasn’t thrilled with that idea.

I’d also been wrestling with the idea of finding a space to display pictures. To me- one way to make a house feel more ‘homey’ is to add pictures of those you love. We have two pictures hanging in our bedroom but that. was. it. I’m also always thinking toward the future- we hope to be in this house a long time and plan to raise a family here. That means creating spaces now that lend itself to family living in the future. So where would we display pictures of our future children? I wanted something that we could use now and in the future, while having it be easy to ‘switch’ from one season of life to another.

Enter the gallery wall with shelves. I had been browsing Pinterest for inspiration and fell in love with a simple black and white gallery wall. It was simple, not too busy, and inexpensive. I also loved that it used shelves- way less measuring/perfecting/OCD headache than putting the frames right on the wall. So, I set out for ‘At Home’ and began exploring my options. Here are my simple tips and tricks:

  1. Find the Shelves: Before I could even start thinking about the pictures, I had to find the shelves. I had measured my wall and knew approximately what size I could use, give or take a few inches. I also didn’t want them too deep. My eye quickly found some light wood ones with a rustic beaded detail. I was in love. They were the last two in the store and I grabbed them without looking back! They were a bit more expensive than some other options, but knowing this was a long term decor piece, I was willing to spend $35 on each shelf. Plus, they were gorgeous!

2. Figure Out How Many Frames: Now that I had the shelves, it was much easier to decide how many frames to put on each. I always like balance. I didn’t want the shelves to seem to full or too empty. I decided 3-4 pictures on each would be perfect.

3. Mix and Match Frame Sizes: I wandered the frame aisle for quite some time picking up frames, playing around with positioning, etc…having decided on 4 frames on each shelf, I knew it would be best to have 2 large frames for each, offset by two smaller or different shaped frames.

4. Mix and Match Frame Color: Since my shelves were more of light wood color, I didn’t want all my frames that color. It would be too ‘blah’. I knew black would be a great accent color and as I mixed and matched my frame sizes, I grabbed mostly black frames but also added in a few neutrals- two the same color as the shelves (to bring in some sense of consistency) and one white.

5. Mix and Match the Frame Mats: This was something I hadn’t thought of right away, but am glad I paid attention to. The mat size and style around a photo in a frame varies greatly. In my usual framing endeavors, I’d often pick a frame with a thin or traditional mat to put more focus on the photo. However, the more I searched and styled, I really liked the frames with unusual, thicker mat styles. The large mat surfaces also allowed for simplicity as the pictures themselves wouldn’t overwhelm the space.

Once I had a good mix of frame size, color, and mat- I headed home. I left with 8 frames that ended up costing me around $50. I was able to find about half on clearance which helped!

Upon arriving home, I convinced Greg that this would be a fun project (ha!). He seriously is the man power behind all my projects. I create the idea, buy the supplies, but nothing would be possible without his help installing, drilling, leveling, etc…even though he rolls his eyes when I tell him I have another project, he’s the best!

We tried out a new trick that HELPED US SO MUCH. Rather than measuring and re-measuring to make sure our screws would be straight, centered, etc…we used some painters tape. We put a strip of tape along the back of the shelf and then poked in the screw holes. We removed the tape from the shelf and positioned the tape on the wall where we wanted the shelf to go. We could remove the tape and re-adjust until we were ready to drill. It made the whole process SO MUCH EASIER. Why had I not learned this trick earlier?! Since then, we’ve used it for several more wall projects and it works beautifully each time.

Once the walls were hung, the fun began. I ordered some pictures (make sure you pay attention to your different frame sizes!), picked them up, put them in the frames, and started arranging. I took some adjusting and playing around before I had it how I liked it. Once I was happy with how it looked I stepped back and admired the new wall. It was perfect. SO perfect.

All in all the project cost me about $135 (shelves, frames, pictures). For something that will last and lend itself to change year to year, I was super happy with it’s affordability! You also could do it much cheaper if you took the time to look for deals/sales. It was a bit intimidating at first, but follow my tips and the process should be more fun than failure.

Do you have a wall, hallway, or entry way dying for some pictures? Would shelves lend your space to be more interchangeable? I’d love to see YOUR gallery walls/shelves too!

I also have to leave you with this picture…remember my qualms about this closet? I wasn’t sure if I loved the coats that were hanging? Well, we donated half and Greg put the other in his closet. I bought another shelf and voila! It is WAY more functional and lets us store our towles upstairs rather than in the laundry room- WITH room to spare! Win. Win. Win! Sometimes I even inspire myself- let that be a lesson- always have your eyes looking for ways to improve and change things you already think work well. There’s always room for improvement!

Be on the lookout for some exciting decorating news in the near future! I can’t wait to share my next big projects!