A Gallery Wall of the Finest Art

A Gallery Wall of the Finest Art

I always wanted a gallery wall, for a couple of different reasons. I'll get into that more shortly. Once or twice a year, I like to take a trip to IKEA and spend some time just checking out all their gadgets. Last winter I purchased several organizing drawers for my office and workshop space and, as you may already know, the downfall of IKEA is having to put it all together!!! We live almost an hour away from the closest one and it happens to be right near a Hobby Lobby so if I’m going to either one, I plan on making an entire day of it.
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Why I Wanted a Gallery Wall

Most of us love to hang photos in our homes. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I love displaying photos of our family and our kids. Wall collages are great. But I find that I don’t like being confined to one certain size or even two in the way of frames. Thus, a gallery wall had been in the back of my mind for quite some time. I decided to create said gallery wall using Ikea picture ledges. The ones I purchased are no longer available at Ikea (although you can buy them through Amazon for quite a bit more $$) but this is the one they sold at the time (the Ribba):

I decided that I wanted each of our three kids to have their own ledge. That way I could have a school photo, a nicer photo from when our friend, Christy (Little Daisy Photography), takes our family photos in the fall, and then whatever random photos I want that will fit. The idea of all different sizes of frames – layered and overlapped - totally appealed to me. I also liked the idea of including a poem about handprints and footprints since we had our older two do their prints when we were renovating our home back in 2008. Our youngest hadn’t come along yet but we added his when he did so that he wasn’t left out.
photo collage showing hand and footprints
framed poem called "Handprints"
framed poem called "footprints"
It still needed more though...something with some character.

I wanted something else though – to add some extra character. The perfect solution was using the metal and wood letters that originally adorned the back of our coat cubbies (I had the fancier metal ones – from Kirkland’s - for us girls in the family and the simpler wood ones for the boys). They worked well for the cubbies until we added an additional shelf in each which meant the letters had to go. So, this was perfect! I could hang the letters within each child’s shelf!
picture ledge adorned wiht photos and plant and decorative metal letter

The plan...

Ikea replaced the Ribba shelf with the Mosslanda ledge - it's deeper and also includes a groove (like if you wanted to stand up some plates vertically, they’d sit in the groove so as to not slide). When I first started this gallery wall, I chose to go with these three shelves but recently I decided I wanted to extend those shelves lower down the wall.

I had made a special trip to Ikea in search of two more Ribba shelves. However, because I didn’t do my research online before making the drive, I ended up purchasing the deeper new shelves thinking it would be fine…no big deal. The whites matched and a little extra depth shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Once I got home and held the new ledges up under the old, I realized it was a shin-busting or quad-jabbing accident waiting to happen every time we went in and out of the room beside the shelves. I could just imagine the number of sweaters totally pulled from catching on them when I walked by. Plus, I did see a noticeable difference in depth from all angles and, well, I didn’t care for the aesthetic aspect either… SOOO, so much for that idea. UNTIL…
A lightbulb went off...

Earlier this year I decided to re-vamp my office space. It just so happens that, over my desk (that’s a whole other blog post coming down the pike), I just happened to have two RIBBA shelves! Ding ding ding! The lightbulb was flashing in my head… I could switch out those two Ribba shelves for the new Mosslanda ones, and there you have it! It only took almost a half year later to actually DO it. But there is nothing like committing to one blog post per week to light a fire under you to get things done. Seriously – why didn’t I think about that six months ago?
Oh… but wait. The upstairs ones were white and the ones over my desk were a light wood tone. If you are reading this and know me in the slightest, since when did that kind of thing stop me? If you are still getting to know me, then I forgive you.

White paint to the rescue! Woot Woot! (Or is it Whoop Whoop?) I pulled out what white I had readily available because, well, after six months of procrastination, suddenly it was T-minus four days til this post needed to be published if I had any hope of sticking to my blog-writing commitment to myself.
folk art home decor chalk paint bottle
So, I painted the two additional shelves white - right there on the kitchen island on some cans of beef broth. Why? Because sometimes you need to paint a shelf while going back and forth to the stove to brown the taco meat – no one around here even bats an eye to that kind of thing anymore. I can give any multi-tasker a run for his or her money.
picture ledge being painted white
Break out the drill! It's time to hang...

To hang the two additional shelves, I enlisted the help of my always-willing youngest child. He and I measured the vertical distance between the shelves, then he helped me hold the shelf up with the level on it while I marked the three screw holes with a pencil.
woman measuring for a gallery wall as son watches on
mom and son holding up a shelf while installing a gallery wall
Since there were no wall studs where I need to insert the screws, I had to use drywall anchors first. I drilled the holes for the drywall anchors, Daniel inserted them and then together we held the shelf while I got the first screw in. Two more screws (I let little man help) and VOILA!
Laura using drill to insert screws into a wall gallery picture ledge
child using drill to insert screws into a shelf
We stepped back and thought about whether just one more shelf was enough.
close up of a gallery wall in an entryway
That lasted a whopping five minutes and I was on to the last shelf. I had plenty of items to fill those shelves and Lucky even gets his own spot as the O in H-O-M-E.
close up of dog in a photo frame on a gallery wall shelf
My eager young helper was quick to offer to get the vacuum to clean up the drywall dust that fell during the hanging process. If only he was this eager when it came to cleaning up the dog poo in the yard or bringing up the trash bin!
child vacuuming up dust on a floor
I like home decor that is flexible, functional AND pretty.

These shelves are narrow yet they offer the ability to add small accessories also. Working between a light switch and a thermostat and a doorbell was a little challenging and, once all was said and done, I cracked open the paint cabinet downstairs and painted the doorbell cover and light switch to help them blend in a bit more. (2020 update: These walls have gone from the color you see here, Believeable Buff, to another beige by SW called Bungalow Beige. I'll put a current photo or two at the end of this post.)

The entry is a perfect place for these… at least for us.  You can see them from three different spaces. The best part is that it is so easy to switch these out! Pardon the lighting - it's really weird in these photos.
a full height gallery wall using family photos and home decor a hallway that incorporates a gallery wall with family photos
These once-tiny humans I carried inside me are losing their baby faces and wearing shoes at least as big as me (or, at minimum, catching up way to fast).  This wall is truly a gallery wall of our finest art that can “roll with the changes.”
close up of photos shown on a gallery wall
a gallery wall with home decor and family photos
close up of a gallery wall with family photos
gallery wall with family photos
We've made some updates (and by "we" I mean ME)...

Shiplap wallpaper, a project from another post, makes our entry so much brighter and fresher looking now that the chevron wall is gone.
photos displayed on a gallery wall in an entryway
a gallery wall of family photos in an entry hall
Gallery walls like this can be done in an upstairs hallway, in a dining room, an entry, a den… so many places! You can push multiple shelves right up against each other to create as long of a shelf as you’d like. I have even cut these in half before to make them smaller. I love that I can change the photos out so easily.
What is your favorite way to hang family photos? Do you have a specific spot in your home for a gallery wall of sorts or collage? I hope this inspires you in some way!
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Beautiful! What a great idea.

Janet Jurksaitis

Love this. Made my own photo shelf in the spring (must say you have inspired me! since I have joined the boxed up community) but feel it sticks out too far and would like to remake it. how far out do yours come from the wall (where pictures sit)?

Janice Blinn

The shelves look great – and such a great idea! I think I like them much better than a gallery wall. And I admire your blog post writing commitment-I can’t seem to get any writing done with everything else I’ve got going on. You’re truly an inspiration!

Yvonne Velez

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