creating a gallery wall: step by step

We recently completed a photo gallery wall installation for a client’s living room, and we decided to showcase the process as a tutorial. It’s a lot easier than you might think!

Below is the wall in question before the transformation. Blank, tan colored, and just dying for some personalization.

Our clients have three lovely daughters and a whole raft of family photos already framed in tasteful frames. They just didn’t know how to display them creatively. Enter Madison Modern Home and a display solution!

Materials you will need for this DIY:

  • Brown kraft paper on a roll
  • Pencil
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Measuring tape

Step One: Measure out the wall space you want to cover. We measured a 10’ wide by 6’ tall area behind this floating sofa.

Step Two: Make sure you have enough framed photos and art to fill the space, with varying distances between the frames, ranging from 3-6 inches.

Step Three: Measure a piece of kraft paper in your total desired size (We pieced together two sheets to make a piece that was large enough.)

Step Four: With your kraft paper laid out on the floor, start to arrange your art. We used a rectangular grid, where each frame is positioned at the outer edges of the paper. This way, your gallery wall has a coordinated, designed look. With this system, you have more “play” in terms of the spacing between your frames within a rectangular grid.

Step Five: At this point, play around with layout on the paper until you have just the right balance of frame sizes, orientations, colors and subject matter variety,. It works best if your art is an eclectic mix of B&W and color photography, nature scenes and drawings. Be sure to vary the distances between frames in a pleasing way.

Step Six: Once you’re happy with your layout, take a photo for reference.

Step Seven: Trace around each frame with a pencil. Measure to determine your center point along the top edge and make a mark there. Then turn the frame over and measure the distance between the top and your hanging hardware, and make an X-mark on the kraft paper where the nail should go.

Step Eight: Make a note on the kraft paper with a description of the art. In this case, “moody bicycle rider.” You will need to refer to this later in the process.

Step Nine: Tape your kraft paper template to the wall in the area you want to cover, making sure to measure a level distance from the floor to the top of the paper on each end and the middle (take at least three measurements along the paper to be certain).

Step 10: Now you’re ready to hammer in your nails with confidence. Just nail right through the kraft paper.

Step 11: Carefully remove the kraft paper from the wall, gently pulling it through each nail. Keep the paper intact and set it aside. Reference which art goes where by reading your descriptions (“moody bicycle rider”). Hang your art. Voila!