wichita family photographer: gallery walls

We checked off a major to do that’s been on my list for over two years now – a gallery wall leading down to the basement in our back hallway. It may seem trivial, but it means so much… both literally and figuratively.

For one, it means the wallpaper has been removed, drywall patched and smoothed, walls freshly painted with the same cool, crisp white we’re using throughout our home.

It also means we’re one step closer to getting this space more functional for our family. Andrew’s new year’s resolution was not doing any projects in 2020. ellloooollllloooooollllll!

The kitchen completely wore him out, and it was a lot having work consistently hang over our heads for months on end in that space. So I very much get that he needs a break. Buttttttt, we do have a few things that have to get done this year (including installing new floors in our basement next weekend!), plus little things that got pushed to the back back back back burner because all extra time and energy went to the kitchen in 2019 so it will be good to catch up on some of that. (Things like repair slow-draining bathroom sinks, yard work, continue to update light switches, etc.) Aaaaand I think he’s coming around to working on this back hallway space, ie building and installing a new acrylic stair rail when we replace the wide built-in shelving that currently eats into the passthrough space where I’d like to add a shallow drop-off zone.

Plus installing this gallery wall gives space to letting my kids see themselves in our home. I remember when I worked at the local Boys and Girls Club before I “retired” to stay at home with Henry (and Nelle was on the way) and grow my business. We had a meeting where we talked about ways to show club members that it truly was their club. Seeing their artwork, their projects, and photos of themselves was proven to increase self-worth, self-esteem and feelings of value and inclusion. All things I want for my own kids too and then some.

Why yes, June IS wearing a skirt for a cape/shirt here.

I had one million gallery walls in our previous home (just ask Andrew we bought them all.the.time for a while there), and white frames were my go-to so I used what we’ve had stacked up in the basement since we moved. I thought for sure these were from Ikea, but actually when I double-checked I realized these were actually Canopy brand from Walmart! You could get a similar look from so many places…Target, West Elm, Amazon, etc.

I opted for a more asymmetrical grouping than a symmetrical true grid for a couple of reasons. I like the visual interest, and think it will be even more appealing once you can see through the railing after we install the acrylic (like this if you don’t know what I’ve been eyeing for inspo), and two, I had a couple of obstacles that would have really limited my wall space if I had to stick to a grid – the light switch right by the back door and our swinging door/baby gate.

We used Command velcro strips to hang. I like how they keep everything level, the kids are going to be racing up and down these stairs with their friends now and until the end of time and I wanted the frames to be secure, and also Andrew swore he wouldn’t let me nail things into the wall in this house after repairing one million nail holes in our last house before we moved. Costco has big packs of the large velcro strips; we went through two.

Normally we would have used a level (like this one) for hanging a gallery wall, and we did to start with, but quickly realized it was hard for both of us to fit into the stairwell and work using that method so after we got the far right column hung Andrew ended up making jigs to space the frames accurately from each other, and then we could just slide the frame in next to the jigs and press to adhere the frame to the wall. Highly recommend.

As for spacing, we used a few different widths which I think worked well aesthetically since we did an asymmetrical layout. When I had everything lined out on the floor I think I had about an inch and a half horizontally between frames and about two inches vertically between frames; I think we ended up more like 2 inches between horizontally and even three in some places vertically, but it works. I tend to think gallery walls work best with closer spacing (particularly the smaller your pieces are) so I wouldn’t have gone over three inches here.

It took me more time to choose the photos I wanted framed than to actually hang everything up. (Oh! And I got all my prints from mpix.com!) All time well spent because seeing these faces as I head to the car 15x a day makes me so, so happy.

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"It's a feeling."

One of the best ways I've heard my work described.

It's like a dream you can't quite get back to, but you know was so so good because when you woke up you had a smile on your face, and you keep trying desparately to remember all of the vivid details you can be present in that in-between state for just a little more  - the warmth of being together, the sounds, the laughter...the feelings.

Here's more on what our work together could be.