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Gallery Walls 101: How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly


If I wasn’t a full time blogger, I’d be a full time gallery wall maker. No joke, yo! This girl is such a sucker for a good gallery wall. I loveloveloved a good gallery before I even knew it was a “thing,” too. For my freshman year dorm room (a big deal for collegiettes), my *entire wall* over my bed became a gallery of photographs, tacked up with sticky putty in perfectly symmetrical rows. Junior year, once I became an RA for freshmen, I added a gallery of inspirational quotes to an adjacent wall to keep the hall residents motivated. By senior year, every single wall had some sorta gallery somewhere, and by graduation, I was ready for a whole house, cos girlfriend needed more walls. 😉

Now, I’m a few galleries past obsessed. There’s something so special, I think, about being able to get so much out of someone’s personality and life from what’s on the wall, especially when it’s laid out in an artistic science like in an organized gallery. Beyond that…I don’t do boring. And after awhile, throwing up basic framed photographs in a row can get snoozeworthy! At least from a decor standpoint. 😉 Recently, J and I realized that our one-year wedding anniversary is already around the corner (Um, what? Time? You there? Slow down, wouldja?), and we had NO wedding pictures on the walls. …Fail. So, it was due time to turn our big day into art and turn our house into an actually-finished home.

I teamed up with my friends at Shutterfly to make the magic happen, and I could absolutely not be more thrilled with the results. From the speediness of delivery to the flawless quality of everything we ordered, I’m actually giddy about how fabulous everything turned out. Since we’re on Gallery Wall #9 and counting now (seriously), I figured it would be a fun, helpful thing to share here for anyone on the hunt for ways to freshen up your decor in a really personal, professional way. Decorating really doesn’t need to be this big, intimidating process! I’m all for meaningful decor (rather than random art), so that the walls around the house reflect the joy within. Making personalized pieces with Shutterfly was so simple, and it gave me an excuse to go overboard on a few more galleries. 😉

So, beyond sharing our own gallery walls, I’m breaking it down into a sort of Gallery Walls 101 – An A to Z and top to bottom guide to creating your own beautiful galleries, from picking pieces to designing the wall and hanging up the whole shebang.

GALLERY WALLS 101

Gallery Walls Step 1: Choosing pieces.

  • Mix your media! Awesome, little-known perk about Shutterfly – they’ve got so much more than photo prints. When you think of any sorta photo-product website, you’re probably thinking of prints, calendars, cards, mugs, and other basic nick-nacks to throw your photo on in case mom and dad forget what ya look like. 😉 Shutterfly’s selection of home decor, though, is seriously impressive (and so expansive). Whenever I’m creating a gallery wall, I’m looking for pieces beyond a basic picture frame to really make a cohesive, artistic gallery. It’s always good to have a few regular frames on hand to balance everything out, but I recommend including a framed canvas or metal print to add dimension and texture, and to really make your space stand out. A few musts to pick up:
    • Regular frames – Pick up a few basic black or white 5×7 and 8×10 frames to have on hand.
    • Non-frame/photography art – Shutterfly WINS at this game. Metal prints, artistic photo prints (which frame beautifully in a plain jane frame!), framed canvases, and other mounted wall art are the *coolest* way to mix up your wall with unique, showstopping pieces.
    • Funky frames – Anytime you’re out and about at an off-price retailer or thrift shop, grab any funkier frames. I like to focus on smaller ones – around a 4×4 or 4×6 size – so that they add a fun touch to the wall with smaller candid snapshots.
    • Canvas versus Metal – Decisions, decisions! Here’s the breakdown. Because canvases have a bit of texture to ’em, I think they print best with high resolution images and a bigger size. Metal or acrylic prints are basically texture-free on the surface, however, and can be a glossier finish if you so choose, so they really highlight more minute details well. Shutterfly does both fabulously (and we now have both throughout our house).
    • Random meaningful pieces around your house – To create overall cohesion, you’ll want to have a specific color scheme or theme going as strongly as possible (ie: black and white frames, or all black-and-white imagery in colored frames, or all mirrored pieces, etc). To really strengthen + solidify any ongoing pattern, grab pieces around your house like old greeting cards, magazine pages, wrapping paper, or dried petals to frame and use as necessary fillers. Another (affordable) option – type up your own quotes to frame alongside your gorgeous photography. Perfect for memorializing “your song,” a go-to saying together, or anything that reminds you of the memories photographed within the gallery.
  • Choose complimentary pieces. 
    • Plan in pairs! Especially when working for a sense of balance, it helps to have a few sets of 2’s to place on opposite sides of the gallery, and help “pull it all together.”
      • Pairs of exact frame
      • Pairs of same color
      • Pairs of similar size
  • Know the size of your wall, and work at a slight angle. I’ve discovered that as much as I lovelovelove perfect symmetry, I always create gallery walls at an angle. One side will always be higher versus lower, and it’s very intentional – it has to feel “balanced” with a certain flow for the viewer’s eye. I prefer to work from left to right, with the left side always being higher angling downwards to the right. This first gallery is in our guest room (another piece is going to be added on the bottom right still!), the next is as seen in our living room, and the last is our newest addition.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

HOME TOUR: Living Room - Come hang out with me (+ shop Framebridge, DHP Furniture, + more while you're here!) - Coming Up Roses - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

For this new gallery wall, we spent a full day shopping for finishing touch pieces to complement everything from Shutterfly. The framed LOVE canvas, framed Mr. & Mrs. canvas, G monogram, the bottom right photo art, and all prints are all from Shutterfly (they do everything, casual). So, I picked up the metal “faith” piece as another mixed media piece, as well as the smaller, circular white frames to add more texture and interesting detail. The overall theme was black-and-white, to keep things pretty neutral in framing. Once we had a slew of pieces to work with, it was time to design the actual wall – my fave part!

I made every gallery wall in our house the same way – by arranging all of the pieces out to scale on the floor.

Gallery Walls Step 2: Laying it out.

  • Lay out on the floor in a well-lit space comparable in size to your wall.
  • Work spatially! Lay it as close to scale as possible.
  • Choose which 2-3 pieces are going to be the main focal pieces in the gallery wall (depending on the size of the overall gallery), and separate them from each other!
  • Center pieces over, under, and on the sides of each other.
  • Use your smaller, funky frames and any of the basic frames as “placers”, to fill any awkward spaces or account for overall balance.
  • Alternate piece sizing. I think it helps to think in the rule of pairs here, too. Don’t put your biggest piece smackdab next to your smallest. Similarly, don’t use just one larger frame and a bunch of smaller pieces. Keep things in perspective by balancing out your big’s and small’s, placing them opposite each other in the gallery whenever possible.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

Gallery Walls Step 3: Hanging.

  • Level everything out! My dad is a *stickler* for straight lines – he’s a machinist, so being detail-oriented is literally his job. Ha! He’d be proud to know that I have yet to NOT use the level when putting things on the wall – so thanks, Dad. 😉 A level is the *easiest* way to make sure you’re straight and even.
  • Keep about an inch of space between pieces. The key is to make sure that spacing is just even + uniform between everything, so I recommend about 1-2 inches (depending on the size of your wall and size of your pieces).
  • Use the right tools. My all-time favorite are Large-Picture Command strips. For galleries with smaller pieces or generally lighter-weight wall-hangings, they work like a charm. I even use Command strips to hang our 16×20 wedding trio canvases in our master bedroom! The perfect solution when you want galleries all over, but not holes.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

Smaller Gallery Wall Space:

When you’re working with a smaller wall space, having one main product that is separated into smaller pieces is ideal. The following are a few smaller spaces that I wanted to decorate, taking into account the lesser working wall space. For each, I chose a specific product that came with multiple coordinate pieces, to ensure cohesion while still having that multi-piece gallery effect.

For the smaller strip of wall between our guest bathroom and my office, I went with a 3×3 grid of 9 individual pieces (they come as a set) and coordinated them with photos from our honeymoon. It’s such a cute way to give a huge event in our life together its own little spotlight in a dedicated space.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

Next, we wanted a smaller “gallery” above our TV – the focal point is one metal print, with simpler mirrors sans photos flanking either side. This metal is so gorgeously glossy, it stands out beautifully on its own, especially adjacent to other non-image-based pieces. At first, J was totally opposed to anything over the TV for fear it would be “distracting” while watching anything, but now, he’s a big fan.

For another gallery wall, the area leading down to our basement is going to be more cinematic in theme, but we wanted *some* personal element of us to add. So, another smaller gallery to take the cake of the space – a series of six smaller (5×5) metal prints that chronicle our relationship, starting with the very first picture of us together (before we were dating), through to our wedding day.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

 

Finally, for our master bedroom, I knew I wanted to do something with the strip of space above our giant mirror, but at first, I wasn’t sure what; a full-on gallery wall would be too much (and not fit right). So, instead, I went with the same theme as above – a main product separated into smaller pieces. In this case, it was a trio of 16×20 canvases. As soon as I thought of having each of our solo wedding portraits in black-and-white flanking a picture of us together in color, the lightbulb went off, and this gallery wall was born.

Shutterfly did such an *incredible* job with canvases this large. I was nervous at first about how they would print being blown up that big, but they look so lifelike and crystal clear – it’s now one of my favorite little wall spots in the house.

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

How to make a gallery wall - with Shutterfly - How to Master your Gallery Walls with Shutterfly by popular Philadelphia style blogger Coming Up Roses

 

Shutterfly lets you upload your own photos for use, as well as use any of their art prints and photos to create your final masterpieces. What I lovelovelove about this: It really turns your house into a cohesive work of art that all helps tell your story. For us, that means having some of our wedding pictures turned into actual art, but it also means pulling in pieces like the framed LOVE canvas in our main gallery wall – it looks like the LOVE statue in Center City, Philadelphia, in the City of Brotherly Love where we first met. All in the details… 😉

Working with Shutterfly to bring this gallery walls post to life was a total dream, namely because I’ve been using Shutterfly exclusively for years at this point. My obsession started when J and I first started dating (almost five years ago now); for our first Christmas together, I wanted to do something sweet + special, and I had a gut feeling he’d be around for awhile. 😉 So, I whipped up a Shutterfly photo book recapping our first few months together in “Remember when…” style, with photos of our best dates and most fun memories. And…it became a thing. Now, every single Christmas, I make a photo book from Shutterfly recapping our entire year’s worth of dates, events, etc. with notes on where we were, what we were doing, and any funny or noteworthy things that were said. And honestly, it’s one of the best things I think I’ve ever did, cos now, these books are *priceless* in our house! It’s amazing even now just going back to the book of our first year together, remembering the little things, and it’s even MORE amazing thinking about years from now, when we can take the whole fam together to go through memories…someone pass the cheese curls, cos this ish is cheesy and I lovelovelove every second of it. 😉

So now I wanna know…

Do you have any gallery walls in your house? And do you use Shutterfly?

And if not, want me to come over and make your gallery walls for ya? Really tho, I’m a bit *too* into gallery walls right now, so much so that I’ve been finding pieces for *other people’s houses*. No, Erica, that is not cool. HA. If you have any Q’s about making things through Shutterfly, too, don’t hesitate to let me know – after years of shopping there, I consider myself a seasoned pro. And I’m a pro at only a few things (shoe shopping, eating carbs, and adopting cats being others), so that’s saying something. 😉

TGIF – happy decorating! Be sure to check out more Home Decor posts before you go!

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*This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. As always, all opinions and thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!

Awaken your space with your vision. Shop Shutterfly Home Décor for personalized home accents that are uniquely you.

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