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Guides Joy's House

Getting the Motivation to Start and Finish Your Family Gallery Wall

I heard from so many of you that struggle with getting started OR finished, and I wanted to share some tips that will show you that it’s not as overwhelming as it seems! Here are some suggestions…

Over on my Instagram stories, I’ve been showing you my gradual progression towards finishing my family gallery wall in our hallway. We moved into our house over two years ago, and I had it on this summer’s bucket list to finally start and finish hanging all our family photos. As I shared my process, I heard from so many of you that struggle with getting started OR finished, and I wanted to share some tips that will show you that it’s not as overwhelming as it seems! Here are some suggestions…

Choose a spot to have a family gallery wall
I chose our upstairs hallway since it’s long and has the space for me to keep adding over time. But you could choose a smaller area based on the space you have. I have seen great ones in dining rooms, living rooms, and kitchens. Wherever you choose, try to pick a spot that isn’t in direct sunlight to help avoid the prints fading too quickly over time. And, it’s always nice to have them in an area that your whole family will see or pass by every day. For example, I would not choose your personal bedroom for this!

Start small and grow from there
If you currently have no family photos printed and framed, it might seem overwhelming to try and get a whole wall together. This is where I’ll remind you that you don’t have to do it all at once! If you’re just starting, you can start with a handful of your favorite family photos. These can either be from one part of your family’s life or a mix of your favorites over the last several years. It can also cost a lot to print a ton at once, so starting with a handful helps budget-wise. If your goal is to gradually add to it, then order one or two framed photos per year rather than a ton from one year. That will allow you to have a great visual summary to look at over time.

Pick a frame style (or a few) that you like
Some people like having the same frame and color for consistency which is great if you have a brand (like the white staple Ikea frame) or place that you know will continue to offer frames for a while to come and in the future. Or, if you like a mix of styles, don’t be afraid to mix frame colors and styles which allows more flexibility for adding future frames, too. For example, my current wall has a mix of white, birch, and gold frames. The orientation and sizes of the prints can be different, too, to best accommodate a mix of options (like this example above).

They don’t all have to be photos
You can mix in your kids’ art or other types of family representations (like illustrations) if you have them. We have these illustrations that we started a while ago that make a fun addition to our wall and have been moved from our former apartment to our current home.

Doesn’t have to be in timeline order
Sometimes the overwhelming part about a family gallery wall is thinking they need to be in order of time. I mixed ours all up as I wanted flexibility to be able to move them around as we added new ones and feel like they didn’t have to be in a specific order.

Grid or organic?
Gridded gallery walls look great, but I personally like a more organic gallery wall style because it allows for a mix of sizes, mix of frames, and mix of images. See more inspiration for different looks of gallery walls here and here!

Add in your pets!
Don’t forget about your furry family members! Whether in photos with you or on their own, add them to the family timeline to cherish and watch as they grow over the years.

They don’t have to be professional photos
If you do annual photo sessions…great! But if you don’t or missed some years, simply choose favorites from the candid photos that you took on your own. It’s about the moment captured in the photo not about them all being professionally photographed.

Framing is easier than ever
Since most of our images are digital these days, the nice thing is there are so many great online framing sites that print and frame your photos and deliver you a finished product ready to hang. I have used Artifact Uprising, Simply Framed, and Framebridge to create gallery walls and prints for gifts. I like to eyeball during the hanging process, but if you prefer more structure, tools like this help a lot!

Don’t overthink it!
Remember, starting is better than them sitting on the floor in a pile for 2 years. A family gallery wall is supposed to be fun and be a great way to look at your family’s history. If you have any other questions, add me in the comments below!

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