Photo Wall

We’ve had a few different versions of photo collage walls in our homes over the years and it’s actually the project in my house about which people first starting telling me “you should have a blog,” so I thought I’d share a how to.

While I was away with the Cuties a few months ago, one of the frames on our staircase collage fell off the wall in the middle of the night and woke Cute Husband with a start.  Thinking on his feet like only a husband can at 3:00 a.m., he immediately sensed impending danger and took down all of the rest of the frames.

Yeah, that’s pretty much my reaction, too.  So it took me a little time to regroup, but I decided to turn lemons into lemonade and see the good in having to start fresh {OK, those of you who know me in real life can stop laughing now, since you know that’s totally not how it went down.  I pouted.  I procrastinated.  And then I sighed dramatically until I finally got off my tush and got to work}.  I did make the decision to add a second wall where our staircase turns, to update the pictures, and to make some repairs to the older picture frames in case by some teeny tiny chance Cute Husband was right about the torn old frame backs and there was a chance they might fall down in the near future.

So here’s how you make a photo collage wall.  First, figure out your design plan.  You can do color, black & white, or a combination of the two.  Your picture frames can be all different, the same, metals, woods, etc.  The possibilities are endless, but here’s my advice: pick some sort of unifying theme to help tie it together in a cohesive manner.  For us, I chose black & white photos and black frames.  But I’m cheap thrifty and I cheated a little.  I scoured the house for any frame I could hang on the wall and dug through the depths of the attic, in addition to the clearance shelves at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Walmart and anywhere else I happened upon.  ANY frame would do and I simply hit it with a few coats of black spray paint, and voila ~ we were uniform.

After you frame your pictures, you next lay them out on brown kraft paper, trace them, and cut them out.  I like to write some sort of notation as to what picture is in that frame so I can mix up my photos well.  Our wall spans six generations of family photos so I wanted to ensure that the old pictures and the new ones were intermingled and that we didn’t end up with a blob of six photos in a row of just Big Cutie.  Once you’ve cut out all your paper templates, grab some blue painter’s tape and start playing around with your layout until you have all the pictures where you want them and spaced how you want them {I’m sure I’ll be asked if the different colored templates mean anything.  They mean absolutely nothing.  I ran out of kraft paper close to the end and was way too lazy to go buy another roll so I was using anything I could get my hands on.}

After this, I flipped each frame over and measured down to see how far my nail should go.  I literally wrote this measurement right on the paper on the wall and then took my ruler and found the midpoint across to see where those two measurements met.  By drawing right on the paper template I could easily take my nail and picture hook and hammer right in the perfect spot.  Once the picture hook was in the wall, just rip the paper off and throw it out.  Can you guess where I was still waiting on one last enlargement to arrive from Shutterfly when this picture was taken? 🙂

If your project is in a high traffic zone like mine, I recommend using small felt adhesive circles on the back corners of your frames.  It will help the frames “hug” the walls and not move around.  You can find them at Target or Walmart and they’re very inexpensive.

So there you go.  This is the “long” way to make a photo collage wall.  I’ve done it the “eyeball” method and gotten fairly good results, but honestly, this really makes a difference, I promise.  And if you have plaster walls like I do, there’s no way I’d try it any other way.   There’s nothing like being surrounded by photographs of people you love.  I’d love to see your collage walls if you want to share!

Now, here’s where I confess how much I want to move that switchplate and alarm panel over about four inches because they make me crazy that I couldn’t work them into the collage a little better.  I never said I didn’t have issues.

Linked to:

The Inspired Room

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31 Responses to Photo Wall

  1. Alex says:

    The alarm panel would drive me nuts too! Honestly I did not notice it though. I think that kind of thing only bothers us in our own houses. Looks great.

  2. Michelle says:

    Why not “frame” the switchplate and alarm panel in black to match…maybe add another small frmed pic to balance 🙂

  3. feltsocute says:

    I LOVE those ideas. Thank you so much! {I did recently add a tiny black frame with a little ‘G’ in the space between the switchplate and the other frames, which helps balance it much better, but really like your idea!}.

  4. Heidi says:

    I did the same thing with pictures in my house. Works beautifully! The only thing I would add is if you have a picture frame with double hooks, just make sure it is level before nailing.

  5. karen says:

    thanks for the ideas! I have been wanting to do a photo wall in our stairway. I was wondering how much you estimate you spent on the frames, and where you recommend buying the frames?

  6. karen says:

    oops i’m a dork, I see where you mention your favorite places to purchase.

  7. That is a great staircase gallery wall, I love it!! Glad you shared how you hung them too…I like that method!! Thanks for sharing you Gallery Wall!

  8. cailan says:

    Wow – I am so impressed with how methodical you were about the arrangement, so smart! It turned out beautifully.

  9. wow – what a collection! looks amazing!!
    if we were staying in the current house we’re in – i’d totally go for a look like that on our staircase! i found the all the frames for our wall out thrifting as well -totally the way to go.

    visiting from the gallery party!


  10. Sunshine says:

    I think your wall looks just beautiful!

  11. Heather says:

    Your gallery is gorgeous! You are an inspiration and I have made it a goal to get a mulit-generational gallery on our staircase wall! Beautiful!

  12. Pingback: Just Get It Framed!! | New York Child Photographer | DAWN SELA PHOTOGRAPHY NY NYC CT NJ

  13. Pingback: Clever Ideas to Make Life Easier from Frugal Mom : Frugal Mom

  14. Jamie B says:

    Your photo wall is amazing! I love the tip you shared about making the templates for placing the photos on the wall. Such a smart idea. Hope it’s okay, just couldn’t resist featuring your fabulous photo wall on my new blog.. you can see it here:

    Thank you for sharing!

  15. Cathy says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Now you need to come to my house to do my staircase! I’m a bit nervous to do it!

  16. Sunnie Shackelford says:

    You could put a frame around the switchplate and alarm panel and make it look like its part of the collage!!

  17. This house look so familiar… I think I saw it in a youtube video with a scavenger hunt for Disney world. Its driving me crazy

  18. feltsocute says:

    You very well might have, LOL. We did a scavenger hunt for a Disney trip surprise years ago – impressive eye.

  19. Pingback: Arrange your Photos or Artworks Gallery Style | Baterbys Newsletter

  20. Jane says:

    Thanks s much for sharing…. What a wonderful inspiring project. It looks beautiful.

  21. Tamela says:

    Okay…this is probably a silly question, but how do you hang the really “up high” photos on the stairwell? You can’t put a ladder on the stairs. I’m sure there must be a simple solution but I can’t come up with it!
    Your gallery is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the how-to.

  22. feltsocute says:

    It’s an optical illusion because of the slope of the staircase and isn’t any higher than the others! The highest ones were on the landing where I COULD use a step ladder. They’re actually probably lower than many people might go because I’m only 5’4″!

    And thank you!

  23. Pingback: PINspiration Blog Hop ~ DIY Photo Clock

  24. I used this awesome idea to hang my daughter’s photo clock. I linked back to your article in the post here. Thanks!

  25. NAlvez says:

    This is a great guide, I just wanted to let people know that Matboard&More is a great site to get your matting from as well. They do custom designed mats for a great price,

  26. Brian says:

    How long did it take you from start to finish? We’re working on a new app and product to simplify and speed up the process. We will be looking for beta testers this fall. If you’re interested send me an email.

  27. feltsocute says:

    I would imagine this process took about 2-3 hours from start to finish once I’d determined the positioning/order of the frames. That includes tracing and cutting the templates, arranging them and hanging all the frames.

  28. Brian Oliver says:

    Thanks for replying, we are trying to get our system down to less than an hour for the hanging part and the app will help with the designing piece too, so that should be pretty fast as well. You did a great job with this layout!

  29. Patty says:

    “If your project is in a high traffic zone like mine, I recommend using small felt adhesive circles on the back corners of your frames.” – I like this tip!!

  30. Aliea says:

    Beautiful! I love your wall color, may I ask the paint name? Thank you – again, so lovely.

  31. Pingback: Great step-by-step guide to making a gallery wall! - Diy & Crafts

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