Hi, I’m Erica, and I’m addicted to gallery walls. It’s true – give me a wall, I’ll gallery it. It’s like I compulsively frame things in cute, coordinated positions and just #CantStopWontStop. When we first found our house, one of the things I was *most* stoked about was creating a beautiful stairway gallery wall in our family room; since it’s got cathedral windows and a big open concept, the staircase is essentially two floors-worth of stairs, making for an impressive, buildable gallery wall. This became my project when the Gwynns came down with COV!D back in 2020, because it gave me some solid time to plan out the entire gallery wall at once and knock out the entire thing in one fell swoop. Of course, if you don’t have time and/or capacity to do the entire stairway gallery wall at once, you can absolutely add as you go – I just think having as much of it ready to go as possible helps envisioning the finished product much easier.
SO – let’s build a stairway gallery wall, shall we?
Step 1.) Choose a color palette.
Based on your other decor and/or preferences, what color palette will work best in your space? Are you wanting more blacks and whites, more rustic browns or lighter neutrals? Personally, I think picking a general “theme” from a color sense works well, and then playing within that by adding textures, metallics, etc. You’ll see for our stairway gallery wall, it’s largely black and white with a few metallic pops, and lots of white matting. Because I used color prints, I didn’t want frame colors to clash with photo colors at all. You can opt for monochromatic frames or work within one specific texture (smooth and basic, versus more detailed or intricate, etc).
Step 2.) Pick your main pieces.
By this, I mean having a few bigger “statement” pieces that act as anchors through your stairway gallery wall. For us, the “THIS IS US” sign is the main anchor, marking the center of the wall. Then, we used two 16 x 20 pieces as secondary “anchors” at either end to help balance the gallery. From a size perspective, this helps ensure a cohesive, balanced look overall while giving some guidance of how to work smaller frames around it and flesh everything out.
Step 3.) Find a photo provider.
There are SO MANY OPTIONS when it comes to getting your photos and larger prints made – truly headspinning. I used Framebridge for quite a few pieces since they handle EVERYTHING start to finish (minus coming to physically hang it up on the wall for you – ha!). Your finished, framed photos arrive safely packaged and ready to hang, which is undeniably clutch. But, I also have some cheaper prints from Walmart framed and they turned out A-OK!
A more recent find for photo printing that isn’t featured in our stairway gallery wall but IS what I used for all of the black-and-white prints on the floating shelves adjacent to the TV is Nations Photo Lab. They were a new-to-me find that I discovered when searching for a really random larger print size to no avail – they had the option, so I gave it a go. Turns out, it’s INCREDIBLE quality and actually affordable. I ended up buying ALL prints I needed from them and will absolutely use them again – the ordering process is super seamless, shipping is fast, and quality is great. 10/10. Anyhoo. Stepping off that soapbox and onto Step 4…
Step 4.) Add a few “extras”
Meaning, a few non-photo things to help add interest and pull everything together! We have quite a few metallic accents in our actual family room, so I incorporated a few metallic frames, as well as a few mirror pieces framed in matching black and white to complement the mirroring details in the room. Our “This is Us” sign is an easy extra and cool focal point; I also have the LOVE framed sign (from Shutterfly – it comes framed!) and two “G” pieces that still add a personal, family detail without being a straight up photograph.
Other ideas for “extras” here could be, really, any favorite hanging piece that somehow still ties into your overall color story or theme – ie, it’s framed similarly, is of the same texture, etc. Stay away from anything too eyecatching that risks becoming the main focal point of the wall, so that everything still works together as a unit. And, whenever possible, purchase in pairs! It makes “balancing” your gallery wall easier, since you can incorporate one on either end of the gallery for some unifying cohesion.
Step 5.) Lay out your stairway gallery wall on the FLOOR, first.
Because I’m a visual person, I *need* to see things laid out spatially first before attacking the wall itself. What works well, I think, in creating a stairway gallery is laying it out on the floor at approximately the same angle of your staircase. Granted, this obviously depends on the floor space you’re working with, but angling here is really helpful. It also makes it so much easier to rearrange as needed, try different frames in different spots, and get a good feel for how it will actually look all together.
To get the right upward angle, I recommend using the frames themselves as measurement markers. Meaning, try setting the next frame about at the halfway point of its adjacent frame.
If you don’t have all of your photos ready yet, don’t worry – just lay out the empty frames and fill once you have your pictures!
Step 6.) Measure your staircase and mark the angling
This is a MAJOR KEY for ensuring your staircase galley wall actually aligns with the angle of your stairs. I recommend using a yard stick to make markings on the wall about every two feet. Hold the yard stick flat so that one end is on the banister, then use a pencil to lightly dot where it aligns on the wall. Then, use blue painters tape to connect the dots, so that you have an easy, removable solution to see your angle and line up your gallery accordingly. Since you’ll be hanging pieces ABOVE the paints tape, it should leave a nice bit of space so that visually, no pieces are “blocked off” by the banister.
Once you’ve got the blue line taped up, it’s time to…
Step 7.) Work in pieces, and start hanging!
When I started actually hanging pieces along the actual angle, it didn’t align perfectly with the angle from my floor layout – but that’s okay! Your floor layout is likely much rougher and looser just for visualization purposes, so expect there to be a bit of difference here when it translates to the wall.
I actually hung my *entire* staircase gallery wall with Command Strips. I know some folks have mixed feelings and varying opinions on them, but they’ve been tried and true in my household for years. I recommend going piece by piece in sections, working from the layout you made on your floor to start – and just editing as you go!
Would you try your hand at a stairway gallery wall?
I want to see pics, if so!
See more gallery wall inspiration + tips here!