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A Museum of our Lives

I'm not sure anything can make a home as personal as a gallery wall. They are curated and they are often the real finishing touch to a space. Whether a small vingette of vintage floral prints or an entire wall filled with black and white memories, we can use our photos, momentos, keepsakes, or found art to give our homes a designer touch that is deeply patented. Often, despite their aesthetic appeal, gallery walls can be confounding or even scary. Maybe you don't know which pictures to chose or you don't know if your frames should match or not, or just just plain don't have a clue where to start. Hopefully this post gives you some ideas to help you get started!


I have gallery walls all throughout my house. If you count the concert posters on my daughter's collage wall, we have eleven total, almost one in each room, and I'm currently working on a plan for a twelfth in our foyer and I also want to do something in our library. As my husband recently put it, "We live in a museum of our own lives."


I love that.


And he's exactly right. From my favorite child artists' masterpieces to my late grandmother-in-law's recipes, to vintage ship and floral prints, to photo memories, almost everywhere you look you can find something precious to us. Here are just a few:

I wish I could find a better picture of it, but the one in the middle of my daughter's room from years back hold one of my favorite gallery walls we've done. I found vintage McCalls magazines at an antique store when I was pregnant for her, knowing I wanted to use them for her room someday. I love that they are colorful and nostalgic and something no other little one will have in their space. She's since moved on to Nirvana posters and album covers gracing her walls, but the McCalls ladies are safely tucked away and I'll use them again someday in a guest room or maybe I'll pass them down to her if she has a little girl someday. I rarely buy new art. I love to scour flea and antique markets because 1. it's cheaper and 2. the hunt is so much fun! The ship motif in my son's room took me about a year and a half to put together because I had to find all those ships, but I love the end result.


Ready to start your own gallery walls? Here are a few tips:


  1. Choosing photos is the hardest part. Here's what I suggest: Make an album on your phone of all your favorites. Then eliminate half and make a new album. Then let your family have access and choose their favorites. Or, if it's just you, have a friend or family member help you eliminate. Once you've chosen, have them printed as 4x6s and lay them out on your counter or table until the arrangment seems right.

  2. For momentos or artwork, measure your wall space, and then decide how many you can use and then choose your favorites using the same process as in tip number one! For momentos or art, I like to use uniform frames, at least in the same color, to tone down the often varied colors and mediums of the pieces.

  3. When trying to choose a uniform vs. an eclectic look: think about how you want the space to FEEL. If more modern, go with a symmetrical layout and the same frames. Black and white photos gives an ultra-modern, clean look to a space. If you're looking for something more lived-in and a little more curated, use different types or color frames with your photos and arrange them in a way that isn't so symmetrical.

  4. When choosing WHERE to place a gallery wall, it can be an obvious big, blank wall or just a nook or cranny. Space above a bed or dresser works well, but there is really no wrong place. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are not exempt--they make great, unexpected places for gallery walls!

  5. Go with your gut. You can have a gallery wall that incorporates photos and momentos and artwork. There's no rhyme or reason or rule that says each gallery has to have things that are super similar. As long as there is SOME common thread, like color or subject matter or even scale, it will look beautiful.

  6. I have found that less is more when it comes to the spacing of the art. Bigger spacing looks sloppy and unprofessional. So when in doubt, err on the side of caution and put your pieces no more than two inches apart.

I hope these tips help! I believe every home should have at least one gallery wall. Our happy memories are often what keep us moving forward, so why not surround ourselves with them? Art that we are drawn to can bring us peace, so why not fill our homes with collections of pieces we love? These collections are like us all--no two are the same and they can have very different vibes and personalities. I hope you decide on a gallery wall that is perfect for you and/or your family. And if you need a little help with that, let me know. We all deserve to live in a museum of our lives.


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