So many frames, so little…kitchen floor space? It was time to get these bad boys nailed to a wall. For serious.
(and get that ugly green kitchen painted – but that’s another story)
With the stairwell finally painted, I was ready to tackle my much-awaited frame gallery project!
I was first inspired to create a stairwell frame gallery long before we bought a house. When we were living in New York City together after college, my friend Caroline pitched this brilliant idea for our apartment in Midtown West. She didn’t have to sell me too much before I jumped on board – I will basically do anything that girl tells me to do and I know I’ll have fun doing it. One evening with a bottle of Cavit Pinot Grigio AKA liquid courage, we decided to just go for it. We nailed frames up all through the hallway without rhyme or reason. Pink frames, black frames, white frames, sparkly frames – you name it. The end result was pretty magical and it became my favorite space in our (tiny) place.
Having worked with (under, wayyyy under) Gael during my days at Martha Stewart in New York, I was drawn to her creativity and unmatched design talents. This article focused mainly on editing pictures and designing the arrangement. I was pretty into it until the bit about her hiring an art installer’s company ILevel in New York to do all the actual hanging. Really Gael? Not gonna hammer one nail yourself are ya. Nope. Alright well hey, good job editing down your family photos.
Luckily, I spotted Young House Love’s article outlining a step-by-step process of how they “wallpapered” their hallway with frames, and videos about how to design different types of frame arrangements: Getting The Hang Of It. Lifesavers!
I also found this nifty reference tool on ShannaSimpson.com - which I’ll use um, all the time now. Seriously. This thing rocks my socks. Thanks Shanna!
Before I hammered even one nail, I did my share of frame gallery recon on Pinterest:
Cute! I also saw this adorable idea at Ingredient – a restaurant here in Omaha:
Inspired and ready to go.
Rather than frame photos and art ahead of time, I took the approach of creating the structure of the gallery first. In my mind, I figured anything I had to hang would find its rightful frame after the frame found its rightful spot on the wall. Follow me?
I decided to go with all white frames in the stairwell, and keep my gray/silver frames for other areas of the house – more on those another time. To collect all these, I hit Target, Amazon, and Pier 1 Imports.
Target had the best cheap white frames. Pier 1 had the most unique looking weathered-white frames with burlap mats, and Amazon had the easiest-to-hang frames by FAR.
I laid out each arrangement on the floor prior to hanging on the wall. Even though it is one long stairwell, there are physical breaks in the arrangement when you run into the office door on mid-level landing, and then again when you reach the top of the stairs. These breaks allowed me to create naturally separate arrangements, and I focused on one at a time.
Each frame was spaced 3 inches apart in all directions.
It was easy enough to create the arrangements after I “nailed down” my vision, but I knew the tricky part would be hanging them level.
I tried one trick where you trace the frame on wrapping paper, and cut out the wrapping paper as a template to temporarily tape on the wall. I found this trick to be a little more trouble than it was worth. Wrapping paper clearly did not work in my favor since it kept curling inward, and when I used cardstock, I spent a lot of time taping smaller pieces of cardstock together to make the right size template. I don’t recommend this technique in the future. As Zach Galifianakis says in the movie The Campaign – “IT’S A MESS.”
The best thing I did was hang the first frame at the bottom of the stairs. Then I’d measure 3 inches to the side of the frame, and 3 inches above the frame, marking each with a pencil. This set the parameters for the next two frames, and so on, so forth, to create the illusion of the frames creeping up the stairs.
James got on me a few times about putting so many holes in the wall, but it’s really nothing a lil spackle can’t fix. I am also totally BANKING on the hunch that a future buyer will love the gallery so much, they’ll write it into an offer on the house. Mark my words. Unless that doesn’t happen, then forget I said that.
I am still to this day finding photos and art to include in all the frames.
I have the most adorable picture that my mother-in-law gave to me of James riding a horse when he was ten years old.
Old post cards or print art from Etsy make great pieces as well:
Then of course we threw in some wedding photos…
…a special print that my amazing friend Danielle sent for a bridal shower gift…
And one day I spent the afternoon creating a collage with some of our most special RSVP cards from the wedding:
The gallery took about two full weekends to create, but every time I walk up and down the stairs, my heart just about explodes with joy.