Check out our new gallery wall!
I was looking for a place to showcase the kids’ artwork and family photos and I thought the blank wall in the stairwell to our finished basement would be the perfect spot.
In the interest of full disclosure, I needed some help with this one. I’ve tried to hang gallery walls on my own. They wind up being lopsided and uneven with weird spacing…not a good look. I’ve tried every method—using paper cutouts, or using one giant sheet of paper. I just can’t seem to get it right. My father, on the other hand, is a master at gallery walls. He created a huge one in the living room of my parents’ home that I love.
So, being the fantastic father that he is, he (once again) agreed to help us out. For weeks prior to his arrival I collected and sorted photos and art work, putting them into frames. Some were frames I already had. Others I found in the dollar bin at a local used furniture store. I cleaned them up with a fresh coat of paint. I tried to stick with frames in three colors, white, black and gold, to keep it from looking too busy.
I did have one major concern about installing a gallery wall on the stairs—my kids, ages 7 and 9.
Running, jumping kids and stairs.
Crash. Smash. Goodbye gallery wall.
But the technique my father uses to create a gallery wall helps keep the frames attached and secure even if someone runs by dragging an outstretched hand or decides to drag a huge gymnastics mat up the stairs.
A quick warning if you use this method—keep in mind, once the art is up, it is a little harder to take it down—at least without taking a little paint with it. (That said, I have had to adjust some art since we hung it, and was able to take a couple frames down and put them back up without ripping apart the wall.)
My Dad brought his own supplies—a drill, nails, wire cutters, a level and double sided tape, (not the thin, clear tape kind). It looks like this.
When using his method, first flip the frames over and take off the attached hanging hardware . Then, drill a small hole at the top of the frame,
hammer in a thin, finishing nail,
and snip off the head using some heavy-duty wire cutters.
Hold the frame against the wall to figure out placement. Once you find the perfect spot, push the frame against the wall just hard enough for the nail to dig in and make a mark. If you have normal walls in your house (and by normal I mean not constructed from 2-tons of fortress-grade plaster) you can then apply the double sided tape and push the nail right into the wall, securing the frame.
If you have cement-like walls like my house, drill a hole on the nail mark.
Attach double-sided tape to the frame.
And then push the frame into place, sliding the nail into the pre-drilled hole.
The nail acts as a stabilizer and the tape securely holds the frame to the wall.
Whether you pre-drill your hole or not, this method makes it very easy to get the frames just where you want them without the hassle of using paper cut outs or measuring to determine the location of hanging hardware. If you don’t want to dill into your frame, you can also take off that wood-like backer board on the back of your frame and tack a nail through it, pointing outward, insert it back into your frame and then follow the same process to hang it.
To make sure your frames are straight you might want to use a level before you push the frame in and secure the tape.
My father just eyeballed the location of the frames and hung them—pretty impressive. If you don’t have his eye for detail, you might want to lay out your pattern out on the floor first.
This hanging method is perfect for high traffic areas like the stairs, where frames are likely to get bumped frequently. Ours has been up for a few months now without a scratch. (Knock wood)
It also makes it really easy to get the look you want. My father left before the wall was finished and I was actually brave enough add a few frames to it on my own this weekend, which given my track record, is a big deal.