Gallery Wall

IMG_6327 When we first moved into this apartment and I began mulling over our design and layout, I knew I wanted to put a gallery wall of art behind the desk and computer. Not only would it hold most of our small scale pieces, but it would take advantage of our high ceilings, balance out the dark and tall curtains directly opposite, and help our giant computer blend in and not be a sore thumb.

I started collecting pieces here and there working up to this, but for a long time this wall just had two prints on it. And I don't even have a picture of that because it looked so boring! But for Christmas Ryan got me a beautiful print from etsy and my parents got me a gift card to etsy that I used toward two more items, and it all started coming together. I bought  a few frames and refinished some others, and last weekend we finally tackled this big project!

We started by laying everything out on the floor to get the best arrangement. I took size, color tone (dark to light) and frame finishes into account to make sure it was balanced (ie not all the wood frames are on one side).



I also knew I had to accommodate the computer screen, which is where that tape measure comes in! As you can see, a few small pieces moved once we got it all up on the wall - and the top right gold frame will eventually be framing a smaller watercolor painting, hence the sideways alpaca you'll see below.



Ryan was my hammering man, since I couldn't reach high enough, even on our stool (as apartment dwellers we don't own a ladder). We had to move all the furniture off the wall to give him plenty of room. I was on tape measure/nail/level/water handing duty.

After an entire afternoon, we finally ended with this:



There is one print that is looking more crooked everyday, so we plan to tweak that when Ryan brings out the stepstool to replace the matting in the gold frame, but otherwise we're in love. Once the desk is safe from any moving around I'll take an extra moment to hide all those cords as well ;)





Our process was pretty simple. I knew I wanted the arrangement to feel as though it was climbing DOWN the walls, rather than like a big cluster arrangement with a jagged edge. Partly because I've done the cluster before and partly to keep a more traditional and "tidy" vibe to mesh with the rest of the room. The bonus was that it made the hanging process pretty simple. We took a few pictures of the arrangement on the floor, then Ryan was able to use the ceiling as a guide as to where to hang the top row.

For each picture, he'd measure from the top of the frame to where the hook/wire was (aka where the nail needed to be), then added three inches (for clearance above the frame). The number he got was how far down from the ceiling he wanted to be. I wasn't married to a sideways measurement, so we just spaced them mostly evenly (about 4-5 inches), though we did start by doing them closer together and had to move a few when it was looking a little cramped.

After the top row was done, we started working our way down in the middle, then out. Ryan would move each frame around until I liked the exact location (following our general layout from my phone picture), then he'd mark where the top of the frame should sit, and use that to measure down to where the nail should be.

Lots of people use butcher paper or create a big template. I've done that before and it worked fine. This was faster though. However, if I was doing a carefully placed "floating" cluster arrangement (aka, NOT using the ceiling as a guide), I'd use the template technique again. Like I said, having something to work off of like a strong horizontal line at the top made this a very easy arrangement to replicate from our test layout.

I'm having trouble picking a favorite piece (though I love the tree directly above the computer and the nude painting directly above that) but a definite contender would be this item I made for Ryan for our seven year anniversary...



It has a ticket stub from each year we dated. It includes the stub to the play he took me to in 2006 that convinced me to "go steady," along with Feist (2007), Sigur Ros (2008), Radiohead (2012), Swan Lake at the Pacific Northwest Ballet (2009), Sasquatch Music Festival (2010), and Bon Iver (2011).

The how-to? Rolled up tape on the backs kept a little bit of the texture/roughness of the tickets and a piece of heavy crafting paper from the craft store. Plus an old frame and mat we had. Boom, finished. Not exactly the engagement ring he bought ME for our anniversary, but I like to think of my gift as past-memories and his gift as future-memories. A nice juxtaposition.


But we really love all the pieces and are excited to incorporate more down the line if we want to switch something out. For now though, here's a breakdown of where pieces are from (if I can remember), left to right like reading a book:

Hawaii map - thrift store for like $7.

Pressed flowers - gift from a family friend

Wildlife print - Wall Blank

Cat gallery wrap (it's Thisbe!) - ITS Graphics

Gold frame - will be Lauren Adams when it's framed!

Death Cab for Cutie - Ryan's from 2004

Tiny House painting - here are some custom house painting ideas

Horse photo - Blissful Images

Abstract watercolor - a shop in Ballard

American Legion Membership Cards - Apparently a relative signed me up when I was just 8 months old. Thought it was too funny.

Nude paint/pencil - Gretchen Kelly

Set of two animal water colors - Dimdi

Small acrylic painting - by me, still working on it!

Mount St. Helens photograph - can't remember!

Belle and Sebastian print - Ryan's from 2006 (our first concert together)

Bird watercolor - gift from a family friend

Rock collection - various (including lava rocks from our Hawaii trip), glass box is from West Elm last year

Live What You Love print - you can now find it here (colors have changed)

Espaliered print  (Ryan's Christmas gift to me) - United Thread

Small acrylic painting by monitor - Lotus Life

Ticket stubs - see above


Ok, that was the longest post ever! What do you think? Ready to tackle your own art wall arrangement?