How To Make A Giant Hallway Frame Gallery

Isn’t it strange how you can start a project (in this case the gallery of frames that we wanted to “wallpaper” our hallway walls with) and then just leave the other half of it undone for a month. Not weeks. Literally a month. What’s wrong with us? And it’s not like we weren’t obsessed with the results of the first half of the project (recounted here):

We just ran out of frame gas or something, so we switched over to console building and chair painting and closet organizing and ceramic dog gluing and tree trimming and sectional leg spray-painting and all the other odd things that we’ve tackled since our little wall-hole-making spree. It’s so weird. What possesses DIY folks to work in fits and starts like that? Oh well, who cares, we’re back on the frame-hanging bandwagon now. All is right with the world.

Yup, after a month of staring at taped up newspaper templates and a big ol’ stack of frames on the floor we finally mustered up the motivation to hang them up, thereby completing the big hallway o’ frames. Booyah. Here’s the whole shebang:

It’s everything we imagined and then some. And it only took a few hours of hammering and hammering and hammering and framing random sentimental objects (and my birthday prints) that I lurve. As for where the frames came from, we already owned around 10 (originally from Ikea and Target on clearance) and we also picked up 14 new ones from Ikea (thanks to a sweet b-day gift card from the fam). Although all of the frames aren’t the exact same shade of white, it’s a soft layered look with some creams and other more crisp white tones that just seem to work even though they don’t match perfectly. We even embraced the whole “layered and different” theme and picked new Ikea frames in varying styles (some more modern and some more decorative or traditional).

We already explained the template-making process of creating a frame wall here, but John thought we should throw in a tip about where to put the nail (with pics, because that’s how my brain “eats” info). First John measures down from the top of the frame to see how many inches below the top the nail will actually sit.

Then he finds the center of the newspaper template and measures down the same amount (4″ in this instance).

He marks the template with an x, and then just hammers right into that x and through the template.

Once the nail’s in the wall in the right place, he rips the paper template from the wall and slips the frame onto the nail. Bam, a frame in the exact spot that we had the template. Yay math. Or yay rulers. Or more accurately, yay smart hubby.

Oh and you’ll notice that we started with the big frame in the middle of the arrangement (which we intentionally planned for that spot to sort of balance and ground things) so that’s another tip. If you start from the center and work out from there all the frames won’t migrate left or right or up or down as much since you’re starting in the center. And choosing a big frame for the middle should help things feel kind of balanced and well-planned (even if the edges of the smaller frames around it don’t line up and it’s more of an asymmetrical layout from that big frame on).

Here we have all of the frames hung without any art. Except for that backwards canvas on the left. Yup I hung it with the wood on the back exposed instead of the front canvas side (I taped a pic of J & I into it a while back and liked the raw kind of rustic look). You’ll also notice a few black and white photos that we used to have hanging behind the sofa in our old den in 8 x 10 frames (some of them were now hanging sideways though, so there was still some work to be done on those).

Here’s another angle, just because I like to pretend I’m fancy with the camera.

And yet another art-less frame POV of the whole hallway:

Oh and when it comes to babyproofing, we do plan to add heavy duty Command velcro to the lower frames that may be within Clara’s reach when she starts toddling around. She’s a pretty docile girl who definitely seems to listen when we ask her to be gentle (when petting her big brother Burger for example) so our plan is to sweetly request that she be nice to the frames and “look with her eyes.” But of course if we think those few low frames ever start to pose a safety hazard (or even just become too high maintenance for the way we live) we’ll definitely just get rid of them until the bean is a little older.

Anyway, back to the after pics. Here are those frames full of stuff that we already had (from these sweet birthday prints that I got last month to a ton of sentimental keepsakes, photos, and even some pretty non-traditional items that we’ll get to in a minute).

Here’s a closer look at the little gallery on the left side:

It’s full of everything from craft paper with two fortune cookies taped to it (top left) to a black & white wedding pic and even a sweet artsy photo of a water droplet in front of some patterned fabric (top right) that was snapped by my friend Laura.

The bottom half of the arrangement has an old craft store peacock feather (I didn’t even put that on paper, the tan color is just the naturally-toned-frame-back showing through the glass), my sweet Etsy bee-day print from John, and even a book cover (remember he also got me a book called Love Life for my b-day? I just took off the paper dust jacket to reveal the pretty cloth cover beneath it, and then decided to repurpose the paper cover as art).

And see that light pink rectangle with Clara’s name on it? That makes me melt. It’s a cute vintage hankie that happened to be embroidered with her moniker. A good friend of ours (thanks Terri!) couldn’t help grabbing it when she realized it was such a coincidence to find something with her name on it. It’s actually really rare to see Clara on anything (they never sell Clara magnets or keychains in stores). I love it so much, and framing it is perfect since the bean doesn’t exactly grasp the whole nose blowing concept yet.

Now we’ll move over to the little gallery on the right side.

The picture below makes me realize that if I’m ever bored I want to move every frame about an inch and a half to the right. Never noticed it “in person” but it seems to hug the doorway on the left a bit more closely. Isn’t it funny how photos make you see things you can’t ever see right in front of you? Anyway, on this side we have our card stock place-holder key that used to be taped up on the other side of the wall, which we have big plans for (someday I want to DIY a white-ceramic-looking key with clay from the craft store). We also framed everything from an old fabric swatch, a quote that I wrote out by hand, more black & white family photos, and even a silhouette of our bald girl.

Here’s a closer shot of the handwritten quote. I love how soft it looks while other things on the wall jump out. It makes you want to lean in and read it (kind of like how you lean in and pay close attention when someone whispers a secret to you).

It’s a quote by Tad Carpenter that I found on Pinterest (where I’ve been living lately, haha) that’s originally from here. I loved the idea of penning something that meaningful in my own chicken scratch handwriting and glorifying it behind glass for all to see (although I spaced it out a bit differently – in 7 lines instead of 8 – to better fit my frame). And yes, that’s a Burger foot (and somebody needs to get his nails cut). He likes to sneaking in photos any way he can. I can’t tell you how many dog-butt-in-the-background shots don’t make the blog.

Oh and here’s the back of the Love Life paper book jacket that I also decided to frame. Waste not, want not, right? Only the tiny spine of the book cover was tossed into the trash since I used “all other parts” of it for the frame wall. Haha. It’s a quote by Arthur Rubenstein that says “I have found that if you love life, life will love you right back.” It’s true I think.

Here’s another quick little making-art-from-something-else adventure. We had these charming little desk calendar pages around for each month of the year (from here) but we always deferred to our day planner and my iPhone instead of using/enjoying them. So I took the one for July and drew a thin red frame around the outside of it with a red Sharpie. Remember when you used to color the edges of paper like that to make straight lines on other pages beneath it in grade school? I did that all the time. When I wasn’t doodling Steven’s name (my elementary crush, oh how I longed to hold his hand with my marker stained fingers).

Then with a thin red pen I drew a heart around the 7th. Because we were married on July 7th, so it feels like a sweet way to honor that special day with something beautiful that we already had on hand (which was shoved into a drawer instead of being enjoyed).

And here’s a funny story about that fabric in the middle. It was actually used as “wrapping paper” from a friend (she didn’t have conventional stuff around but she had that fabric sample so she made it into a little gift pouch). How chic is she? I liked it so much I put a ring frame on it.

One of the fun things about the frame wall is that it’s visible from the hallway that leads to Clara’s room, the hall bath, the playroom, and the guest room. Makes me smile every time I walk back out towards the kitchen. Even when I’m carrying a bunch of laundry or happened to have just stubbed my toe on something. Seriously, the frame wall is like Prozac to me.

So there it is. One project finished. Except we’ve only just begun because I’m sure we’ll end up switching everything out a million times. But that’s kind of the fun of it. I can’t wait for Clara to make me some scribbly art for me to proudly display.

Have you guys framed anything unusual lately? Do you have special memories stuffed into a box or a drawer that you’re dying to get behind some glass? Did you have an elementary school crush on a boy named Steven? Are you Steven, my long lost love? Haha, just kidding. We’re friends on Facebook now. It’s all very PG and he knows I no longer want to hold his hand.


  1. says

    That looks great!

    I’ve kind of been wanting to attack our hallway with a bunch of frames. So far it just has two large prints and a mirror, but maybe I’ll get bold and do a gallery wall or several!

  2. says

    Kind of off topic, but do you guys find that having Clara slows down the home improvement processes, or do you accomplish just as much now as you did pre-baby?

    • says

      Ooh that’s a good question! I think we generally have a certain pace that works for us (nothing too crazy so we don’t quit blogging/get divorced) and nothing too slow (because we’re really bad at sitting on our hands and being idle) so I’d guess that we go at the same general pace as before (with lulls and sprints in there, which seems to be par for the course when you’re a DIYer) – except now we have to be more efficient with our time and seize the moment if she’s napping or sleeping for the night. There’s a lot more after 7:30 stuff that goes on until around midnight that we used to start around 6 when John got home from work. But now there’s dinner and family time with Clara so we wait until she’s sleeping to get started.


  3. says

    It’s stunning. Love the incorporation of the personal mementos, and I especially adore the Clara kerchief – what a beautiful, one of a kind item. Are they all the original IKEA mats or did you end up DIY’ing any to custom-fit your framable items?

  4. Tara Geissinger says

    Love it! Especially how you’ve managed to use something meaningful in each frame. My favorites have to be the book cover/back that you framed. The colors just pop off the wall and really look stunning!

  5. says

    Love it. I’m really into framing random things – I framed my favourite cloth tote in a big ribba frame the other day – it looks awesome – keep forgetting to blog about it though…

  6. Liz B. says

    Looks wonderful! So inspired!

    P.S. There’s a typo when you talk about the second part of the hall wall “if you are board to move everything 1/2 in to the right”. Maybe bored instead. :)

  7. Amy says

    Your wall looks absolutely amazing!

    As for framing up interesting things, my husband was recently in Maine for business and I decided to go along with our dogs in tow. Our younger boy, Leopold (he’s a Weimaraner) LOVED the ocean (we’re from Toronto, Canada), and just couldn’t get enough of the shells. He’d pick one up each morning on our walk and proudly prance around with it in his mouth. It was so cute to watch an 80 pound pup perform so enthusiastically! Anyway, as a memento I brought one of the shells home, and would like to put it in a shadow box with a handwritten note that says ‘Leo’s shell – Old Orchard Beach Maine, 2010’.

    Your wall has inspired me to hurry up and get it done! Thanks for all you do!

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