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A Family Gallery Wall and Why You Need One

by Amanda Garrigus

The family gallery wall, it’s equal parts design element, family homage and an exercise in acceptable narcissism. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of creating one in your own home, but balked at the seeming complexity of the exercise, let me assure you, you got this. Not only is it eminently achievable, it’s good for you too. Studies show that kids who grow up knowing where they fit in their family history, are much more likely to develop resilience. Don’t have kids? Consider this. A photo wall representing the greatest hits of your life can also be a daily confidence booster. “You don’t scare me Monday, I bungee jumped off a tall building!” So gather up your favorite pics and follow these steps to create your very own wall of fame.

  1. First things first. Ideally a photo wall should represent many generations of your family. But when choosing which snaps to feature, steer clear of second cousins once removed. Unless your distant cousin had a tremendous impact on your life, it’s best to stick to people in direct line to you. Think, grandparents, parents, and siblings.
  2. Make sure members of your immediate family are equally represented. If you have kids, the last thing you want is to play favorites in such a visible way. If there are three pictures of one child, there’d better be three of the other or your attempt at building family unity could turn into a family feud.
  3. Narrow the field. Once you’ve decided on which wall you’ll hang your masterpiece, take some measurements and edit down the number of photos accordingly. A wall that’s just four feet square will probably only accommodate ten to twelve photos.
  4. Now choose your frames. Try to keep things simple. A photo wall isn’t the place for gilded swirls or frames with cute sayings. You can, and should incorporate different finishes and sizes, but steer clear of anything too cutesy or busy.
  5. Once you’ve got your photos selected, and situated in their frames, it’s time to create your layout. Clear some space on your floor and play around with placement. Photo walls are more successful when they are a bit of a mishmash. There’s no need to organize your pictures in chronological order. Take that 5×7 of grandma and situate it next to an 8×10 of little Susie swimming in Hawaii. The magic is in the juxtapositions.
  6. Now that you’ve got your layout sorted you can begin hanging your photos on the wall. Remember to leave a little breathing room between each frame. An inch or two will do.

Leave room for the future. Your photo wall can, and probably should, evolve over time, so make sure there’s space for what’s to come. As time goes on, you can change out photos or just add to the growing story of your life.





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