Gallery Wall Inspiration, Joanna Goddard

Gallery walls chock full of personal photos make me happy. What better way to inject happiness into your space than with a collage of personal photos, kids’ art or even a series of torn pages from your favorite book? Gallery walls are visually interesting, cost a fraction of a fine art collection, and more importantly, tell your unique story.

I don’t own fine art. I appreciate it, but much prefer filling my walls with black and white photos of people I love. My favorite space to install a gallery wall is the dining room. Peering at special images collected over generations warms my heart and can be the perfect conversation starter with guests.

Fortunately, my great-grandmother and grandmother were vigilant about preserving family photos. Like their homes I grew up in, our home is peppered with images of generations of familiar faces.

“If we want our pictures and stories to really mean something, to serve a real purpose, then we have to give them better attention.”

—Marie Masse

It’s fun to watch my boys peer at images of their great-great-great-grandparents and imagine what kind of people they were and what kind of lives they lived. These faces gracing our space immigrated from places like England, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, France and Spain. As a Mom, I love showing my kids how their ancestors sacrificed, lived with less means, and clearly made family their priority. Having their images in our home gives me the perfect opportunity to pass down colorful stories that were once shared with me.

These are a few of my favorites:

Julie Pedraza's Great-Great-Grandparents' Family

great-great-grandparents, great-grandfather, great-grandmother and her twin, and my grandfather (in cap and overalls)

Julie Pedraza's Great-Grandmother

great-grandmother and her bestie

Julie Pedraza's Great-Grandparents

great-grandparents at the state fair

Julie Pedraza's Grandfather

grandfather working on his car

Installing a gallery wall can feel paralyzing. It’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t have a concise plan. Where to start? Whether you choose an eclectic collection of art you love, photos of people you love, or a mixed collage, there are a few simple steps to gaming the gallery wall.

Gallery Wall Inspiration, Studio McGee
Gallery Wall Inspiration, Copenhagen Wilderness

“When hanging a series of pictures together, keep the gap between them 2″ – 2.5″ to utilize the wall space. And keep a minimum of 9″ between the art and the tops of sofas and chairs.”

—Milly De Cabrol


Step 1.  Choose a frame color palette. Will you use all black frames or a combination? I’ve found the best looking gallery walls include frames with no more than three different colors.

Step 2.  Before you begin nailing, measure and tape-off a box around your gallery wall area. Keep in mind, you’ll want to leave between 2-3″ of space between each frame. Remember, hanging your artwork 63″ on center above the floor is the perfect viewing height for most pieces.

Step 3.  Create your gallery wall configuration on the floor. If you’re patient (unlike me), and want to avoid making swiss cheese out of your wall (unlike me), outline each frame on poster board or art paper. Tape the cut-out to the wall and nail away. This is obviously more time consuming, but leaves much less room for error.

Step 4.  If you’re using multiple sizes, hang the largest piece first, a bit off-center. If you’re hanging a grid, grab your level to ensure your frames are hung straight.

Step 5.  Hang the two second largest pieces on opposing sides of the first. This will help balance your gallery wall. Fill-in the empty space with smaller frames.

If you ever move, remember to take a photo of your gallery wall before packing up. Believe me, this has saved my hide multiple times when trying to reproduce the same gallery wall configuration.

Creating visual pockets of joy around our homes is the ultimate goal, right? Gather-up some special photos, personal artwork, love notes and/or book pages to design your gallery wall. Look no further than your photo albums, scrapbooks, and bookshelves to find inspiration right under your nose.

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