Monday, January 24, 2011

10 Tips to a Perfect Empty Frame Galley

I finally tackled something that has been on my to-do list for almost a year - my empty frame gallery!!

And I totally totally love it.

I'm not going to share it in it's entirety today, but do you want just a little peek?


The end result is perfect!

However, pulling the whole project off was a lot more tedious than I had been anticipating. My sister and I said the words, "If I ever do this again, I'll make sure that I don't..." more times than I would like to admit. And as I was putting this tutorial together, I realized that it's a bit too much for just 1 post.

So today I'm going to share my 10 best tips for tackling an empty frame wall project, complete with lovely photos of other frame walls for inspiration.

Next week I'm going to show you the detailed break down of how I did mine, with lots of lovely pictures to egg you on in the process. Sound good? Here we go.


(source here)

1.) Visualize (generally) what you want in an end result. Do you want a design that is clean and symmetrical, or a bit more random and whimsical? Do you want the frames to match precisely, coordinate, or be completely mismatched? How much of the wall do you want to cover? Floor to ceiling, just the middle of the wall, or something in between? Get some idea of what you want the end result to be before you start buying materials.


2.) Start collecting frames. You'll want to get lots of frames for this project, but don't invest too much on any one frame. Gathering the materials for this project will take some patience: check thrift stores, garage sales, the dollar store, your parent's basement, your get the idea. I even took a few frames from around my house that were ho-hum in their current location. You'll need some variety when you're putting this together and you don't want to get halfway in and have to stop to run out and look for the perfect frame. You get the picture, gather your materials first.


3.) What should I look for in a frame? You'll want some variety as you are pulling your frame collection together. Get some really large frames, some average sizes (8x10 or 11x14) and some small frames. Look for different textures on the frames: some smooth, some patterned, some rounded, some boxy, some plain and some really intricately designed. Additionally, grab different shapes of frames: basic rectangles, squares, ovals or circles, and some long and skinny frames. As with all thrift store shopping, try not to be distracted by a strange print, an ugly color or any cosmetic imperfections that can be easily managed with a little glue or paint.


(source here)

4.) Measure your spaces. Measure where you want to hang your frames, and mark out a space that is the same size on your floor where you can play around with different layouts. Arrange and re-arrange until you get a good feel for what you are looking for. Snap pictures of any possibilities that you really like, and then re-arrange just a little bit more until you find one that is perfect.


(source here)

5.) Bring a friend and plan on a break. After you are looking at frames and constantly re-arranging and re-evaluating, you will start to feel like you are going cross-eyed. Enlist a friend to come over so that you can bounce a few ideas off of them. Even if you completely disagree with their opinion, it may help you to solidify exactly what you like. It's good to get some opinions under your belt before you start putting lots of little holes in your walls. Also, plan to take a break where you don't look at the frames at all for a few hours. When you come back you will feel surprisingly refreshed and be ready to make your final cuts.


6.) Get your frames ready. If you need to do any repairs on your frames, now is the time to do it. Remove any glass, pictures, staples, backing, etc from your frames. If you want to paint the frames, now is the time to do it. If you are painting plastic frames, don't forget to use a primer to help the paint stick to the frame.


7.) Make a paper template for each frame. Lay each frame that will be going on the wall on a flat piece of paper and cut it out - now you have a template for your frames! Take these templates and tape them to the wall in the arrangement that you like. This will allow you to see the arrangement on the wall and make any adjustments before pulling out your hammer and nails.


(source here)

8.) Start in the middle. When placing the templates on the wall, start with the frame that will be at the center of your arrangement and center it on the wall. (Sounds obvious, I know, but doing this first will (hopefully) prevent you from having to shift the whole arrangement 3 inches to the left, or something like that.) Ask me how I know! When you have the center frame exactly where you want it, then add your other frames to the sides.


9.) Add nails. With the templates still on the walls, hammer a nail into each template to correspond with the hanging gear for that frame. You're almost there!


10.) Hang and smile. Take down the paper templates, and hang up each frame. Spend a considerable time patting yourself on the back. Invite friends and family over to admire your frame gallery and be modest about how long it took you to pull off. But they might figure it out for themselves when you decline to come assist them with galleries of their own.

Be sure to come back next week when I do the big reveal of my empty frame wall gallery! I took a few extra steps on my wall and I can't wait to show you how it all turned out!

Have a great week!

E1025F317CFB5B8E9E5C526E5CC0F475 copy.png


Chrissy @ the Pearl Blog January 24, 2011 at 7:25 AM  

yeah I can not wait for the rest of this..I am to the paper on the walls step and finishing the pant on my frames...

Maria-Isabel @ Agape Love Designs January 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM  

the sneak peek to yours looks amazing! I cant wait to see the rest! Really great tips too!

Tiffany January 24, 2011 at 9:43 AM  

Good stuff, Erin! I can already tell I am going to LOVE yours! Can't wait to see the whole thing!

Jessica January 24, 2011 at 12:03 PM  

I'm intrigued! Can't wait to see the finished product!

Amy January 24, 2011 at 1:27 PM  

I LOVE that idea! It's the first time I saw this!

Stephanie January 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

Frame walls are my favorite! I think I am addicted to buying empty frames. I have done a couple of walls with frames, some just empty frames, some mixed in with mirrors and decorative elements. My most recent one I added antique purses. To me the possibilities are endless and you can make it work for any style. Can't wait to see yours, you gave a lot of great tips.

Kate Fredrickson January 24, 2011 at 3:39 PM  

Mine aren't empty- but I did just finish putting a gallery together. Check it out here:

Thanks for sharing!

Martha Carolyn January 24, 2011 at 3:49 PM  

Thank you for posting this! I plan on doing one of these above our master bed, and this tutorial helps me A LOT! :-)

Unknown January 24, 2011 at 3:59 PM  

I just found you from Mad Skills link party and am now your newest follower! What a great site!


The Spann Fam January 24, 2011 at 4:37 PM  

love the color! i am wanting to add this blue to our living room... can't wait to see the rest!

ClassiclyAmber January 24, 2011 at 6:30 PM  

Great tips and tut! I am intrigued to see how your wall turned out. If your hint is any clue, then this is going to be totally fabulous! =-D

Patrice January 27, 2011 at 11:19 AM  

I am excited to see the details Erin! You has sparked my curiosity!

debbip January 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

Thanks so very much for these tips! I have all of my collected thrift frames ready to make their grand appearance at the bottom of the stairwell....just as soon as I decide on what fun color I will paint them all! :-)

Chelsea March 17, 2011 at 10:02 AM  

I featured this post in my weekly surf this week.

have a great day!

thanks for the inspiration!

elisabeth March 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM  

oh gosh.
i love this!
so cute!
thanks for the inspiration :)


Unknown March 26, 2011 at 7:49 PM  

I love this post! So much that i have featured it here

Related Posts with Thumbnails