The REAL Way to Hang a Gallery Wall

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned I was finally going to do a gallery of my ancestors’ pictures in my hallway?

Juli Page Morgan, author of Romances that Rock

We can do it! We have the technology. And nails. We have nails.

Well, it’s done. And I really like the way it turned out, only I have to tell y’all that hanging a gallery wall is not the easy-peasy job those links on my Pinterest board would have us all believe.

I started by having all the photos I wanted printed so if, God forbid, something went wrong, the originals wouldn’t be damaged. Some of the pictures I wanted to display are really old and irreplaceable, so having copies made was totally worth it.

I gathered up all the picture frames that weren’t currently in use, and then hit Dollar Tree and WalMart for the rest. Then came three days of spray painting all of the frames white, and putting the photos in the frames.

I had a couple of setbacks. Apparently my town has some sort of rule that states there can only be two 8×10 photo mats with 5×7 openings in white for sale at one time. I needed three. I’m still waiting for someone – anyone! – to restock white mats.

Juli Page Morgan, author of Romances that Rock

Still waiting on a mat for my great-great-grandmother’s picture

And somehow a 5×7 piece of glass went missing. I know all the frames had glass when I started out, but at the end I came up one short. Back to the store for another cheap frame so I could use the glass in the nicely painted frame.

Then I hit my recycling pile and cut out templates for each frame using newspaper. I used a Sharpie to write a number on each template, and the corresponding number was affixed to each frame with a Post-It. I even made a mark on the templates where the nail would need to be, because all those little lines on rulers are just beyond me.

Now I was ready to get everything hung!

Forget all those tutorials you see on how to hang a gallery wall. This is how it really goes down.

  • No one has enough floor space to lay out the templates for a “pleasing grouping.” Besides, the pictures will never go up on the wall the way they do on the floor, so just put the templates on the wall and skip the floor.
  • shirt
  • Depending on how many pictures you’re hanging – I had forty! – you’ll probably get tired of trying to get them all to fit about halfway through, and will just start slapping ’em up there. This is perfectly acceptable.
  • Juli Page Morgan, author of Romances that Rock

    Yeah, that looks good enough. Keep going.

  • Using the marks on your templates, start hammering in the nails.
  • Realize your cute little hammer, the one your husband bought for you because it’s lightweight and fits your hand, has been stolen by your daughter and is at her apartment, so you’re going to have to use that big heavy one with the rusted head, the one you use to pound the lids back on paint cans.
  • You are going to drop some nails which, upon falling, will leave the earth’s atmosphere, never to be found again until you start sweeping and they get stuck in your Swiffer Sweeper. Except for that one nail that fell down the front of your shirt and got lodged in your bra.
  • When you get to the template of the biggest, heaviest picture, realize that you forgot to determine if there’s a wall stud where the nail will go. There isn’t.
  • Start hanging the pictures, matching the numbers on the templates to the Post-It numbers on the pictures.
  • Oh, my God! There’s no template for #19! I know I had one! Where did it go? Did I lose it? How could I … Oh, wait. There it is.
  • Where’s #27???
  • Come to the realization that no matter how carefully you’ve measured everything, some of the frames are going to bump up against each other. Decide this makes your wall look unique, and keep going.
  • Juli Page Morgan, author of Romances that Rock

    Why, yes – I do think it adds a “certain something.” (Don’t look at it, don’t look at it!)

  • For the love of Pete, why won’t these hooks go on the nails?!
  • Give passing consideration to the thought that it’s five o’clock somewhere. But no, wine won’t help right now. Besides, it’s really nine a.m.
  • After getting the last picture hung (except for that big heavy one that will require your husband to drill an anchor into the wall, only he’s out of town and won’t be back until Friday), realize that you should have taken each template down before putting up the picture.
  • You cannot get the template from behind the picture unless you take said picture off the wall first.
  • Experience a burning pain in your chest. Panic until you realize it’s the nail that got stuck in your bra earlier.
  • Why are these hooks not going back on these nails?!
  • No, seriously – it is five o’clock somewhere.
  • With all templates removed and pictures rehung, start straightening the frames.
  • Come to the realization that the only way all those pictures are going to be straight at one time is if you glue them to the wall with E-6000. Resist this urge. Do put Sticky-Tac on your shopping list, though.
  • Get your phone out and take pictures of the (somewhat) finished wall. Take lots and lots of pictures, because at some point – like when your husband comes home and has to drill that anchor in the wall for the big heavy picture – most, if not all, of the other pictures will have to come down, and since all the templates and Post-Its are now long gone, you’ll need a picture of where the pictures were to get them back up again.

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And that, my friends, is the real way to hang a gallery wall!

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