Determine the display location
First -things-first, choose the wall space you'll be working with. Select an area in your home that receives a lot of traffic throughout the day. When selecting the perfect location for your portrait display, ask yourself these questions:
- Where does my family spend the most time in my home?
- What areas will guests see when they are in my home?
- What rooms do family members pass through most in my home?
Kristen Duke, of Kristen Duke Photography, chose a highly visible area near the stairs in her home to create this portrait display. She explains, "I believe that having my walls plastered with THEM and US is a constant reminder to my children that they are loved, immeasurably."
Once you've determined the location for your display, find inspiring images to build ideas! Shelley, from House of Smiths, used Pinterest.com and magazines to stockpile ideas for her gallery wall. "I knew that I wanted a specific look when designing our gallery wall," she describes, "so whenever I found a picture wall that had elements I liked, I 'pinned' it, or tore the photo out of a catalog or magazine to use it once it was time to design the portrait wall in my own space."
Before snapping a shot, take some time to evaluate your home's décor — particularly the room the display will be located in. Shelley recommends, "If your home is full of bright airy colors like whites, blues and greens... you probably don't want to display photos of your family wearing fall colors like red, orange and dark brown. Think of your gallery wall as a huge piece of art, instead of tiny individual pieces."
Don't assume you're limited to just frames — the sky is the limit when it comes to gallery-style displays. Kristen likes to get creative in her home, and recommends the following options:
- Mounting prints to canvas
- Using Mod Podge to adhere prints to wood
- Printing images on metal
- Filling a vintage window pane with prints
When you've determined what option works best for your display, take some time for a sample run. "Use paper templates to lay out the design on the wall first," Shelley recommends, "This makes for a lot less guess work when trying to decide where your frames or other gallery wall items should go. Playing with different layout options is a lot easier when you're moving around light pieces of paper only shaped like your objects, verses heavy frames, mirrors or other decor."
If your budget allows, hire a professional photographer to shoot your family portraits. Professionals can help you with styling your shoot to accommodate the look you want to create. Before your shoot, know what types and sizes of photos you would like to display so your photographer can capture the necessary shots.
To get the best results from do-it-yourself photography, Kristen recommends asking a friend to assist with the shoot, and learning more about the settings on your camera. Her book, Say NO to Auto, teaches beginning photographers how to use camera settings to take their photography skills to the next level. You can pick up Kristen's photography guide for $10 on her website.
Add the finishing touches to your gallery by including images, objects, or quotes that personalize your arrangement. Shelley describes, "My favorite tip for making a unique gallery wall is to personalize it so that it speaks volumes about YOU! Look around your existing decorated spaces. Pull inspiration from your own home's colors, decor and even your clothing style, and let those reflect up onto your gallery wall."
For her home, Shelley uses custom vinyl to create inspirational thoughts, quotes, and artwork that is sentimental to her family. This print from House of Smith Designs, priced at $15, is one of the many designs you could use in your home to create a custom look your family will love!
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