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.


    • nk says

      Same! Now I just need a wall large enough for all those awesome quotes and ideas and inspiration I’ve gotten from here and from Pinterest.

  1. says

    You don’t need me to say it, but once again it looks awesome! I love that this project keeps growing and growning and…

    p.s. I know how you feel about finding *something* with Clara’s name on it. My daughter has a unique name, and I doubt we will ever find something with her name (unless we go visit Scotland, the origin of her name.) ;)

  2. Autumn says

    My boyfriend and I spent one of our first dates playing Scrabble in a coffee shop until 1 in the morning! Ever since, Scrabble has become a great past time. After our first game, he happened to snap a photo of the board. For his birthday today, I purchased a scrabble board game, hot glued all the pieces on it like our first game and framed it in a shadow box. I also had the score sheet from the game (on the back of a coffee shop receipt) and a drink menu that got framed separately :)

  3. Brooke says

    Love the completed gallery walls! They look great!

    I just noticed in these pics that you all also have a hodge-podge of flooring (so do we!), so I was wondering if your plans are to just ignore them and decorate around them or to actually change them to be more uniform?

    • says

      You know we love nice cohesive flooring! So we don’t plan to remove any of the varying types of hardwood (from wide plank to skinny plank to parquet) but we do have dreams of refinishing them all to match someday down the line.


  4. says

    I’m -really- digging your gallery walls! They are so fabulicious, I’m tempted to try something similar in our house once we get past the restoration to the decorating stage. I have collected various items we unearthed during the restoration of our 95 year old house (vintage wallpaper, hand cut iron nails, a stove cover, an empty pack of 1910s cigarettes, etc.) that I want to frame in a shadowbox along with a photo of our house.

  5. says

    Aww, I know exactly what you mean about finding things that say “Clara” on them. My daughter’s name is Lena, and I get the same thrill whenever I find something with her name on it. :)

  6. Ames says

    It looks amazing! I bet I will see this all over pinterest today :) Does it ever weird you out to see your rooms on there?

    Another great project, you guys! Love YHL :)

    • says

      It always makes me think “wait a minute, a glitch, it’s somehow showing the blog” and then I realize that other people are pinning those pics and I blush. It’s amazing and kind of crazy at the same time.


  7. says

    LOVE the gallery wall! Love love love it!! I have one in my home too, and I just started hanging (from the middle) and hammering! Yikes. I’m lucky it’s not a total mess b/c I didn’t measure anything!! I wish I had been a wee bit more precise like y’all were. It looks BEAUTIFUL, I’m so pleased for you!!

  8. says

    Ah I have so many things to say!

    1. I stalk Pinterest (still accountless though!) and I saw that Tad Carpenter quote a few weeks ago and frantically googled to find a print! Apparently it’s only in his own house? I love that you made your own though, I may have to snatch that idea :)

    2. Thank you for the comment on the multiple shades of white frames. I’ve been collecting frames whenever I can catch them at a good price and was concerned about the differing shades of white frames/mats. Good to know they all blend nicely!

    3. I jump around projects constantly! I like to say I have design ADHD. Mike likes it better that way, he thinks it keeps us constantly motivated and loving what we’re currently working on :)

    4. Um, I love the way this project turned out!

    The end!

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