Creating gallery walls

How to create an amazing gallery wall with family photos

A gallery wall using family photos is just what the doctor ordered to bring a smile to your face during this time of uncertainty. It is also a fantastic project that the whole family can work on together while “staying home.” So pull out the bin of pictures or USB drive of digital pictures and start going through them. After all, aren’t you getting bored at staring at the same four walls?

You can easily turn a blank wall into an awesome gallery wall with your favorite photos by following the steps below.

Corner gallery with photos

Step one: Determine where to hang your gallery

Old family pictures are a welcoming addition to a guest room

You can create a gallery wall of family photos in any room in your home. I love creating them in family rooms and dens because those are spaces that tend to be where the most time is spent, and the photos get enjoyed regularly. Staircases and hallways also lend themselves well to gallery walls. Once you have selected where the photos will hang, you can start to visualize what you would like to see there.

Step two: Select your photos

Start to go through your pictures and get a general idea of the ones you would like to use. It is a good idea to select more than you need so you have some flexibility when figuring out your gallery layout. Don’t forget to double check and make sure all important people are represented. Hurting grandma’s feelings would not be good. You won’t be able to finalize your selections until you know what the design of your gallery will be.

Step three: Design your gallery

Two different colors were used for frames

There are three things to consider when you are designing your gallery wall; frame type, photo size, and layout. I will go over each of these design elements separately but all of these decisions hinge on each other and should be thought of together.

Photo frames

Determining what kind of frames to use is a matter of personal taste. My advice is to pick a theme and stay consistent. Also consider the pictures that you are framing. Are they formal or casual? Are they black and white photos? What color frame makes them pop on the wall?

Examples of themes that I have found extremely successful

  • All the same frames
  • All different frames painted the same color
  • Two different types of frames which coordinate nicely (Mixing more than two color frames on a gallery wall can start to look messy and actually take away from the photos).

photo size

When you begin to think about photo sizes think about where you are hanging the pictures. If you are placing them over a sofa, they will be viewed from a distance which means a very small photograph will be difficult to see. In a hallway, a small photograph works just fine because you can view it in close proximity.

Also determine if there will be one picture which will be the most important on the wall. It could be a wedding photo or a family portrait. This gives a great starting point to build off of when creating a layout. I recommend this photo being the largest and central photo one the wall. Do you see how one decision is connected to the next?


symmetrical layout for photo wall
Symmetrical Layout Example for Gallery Wall
Asymmetrical Layout Example for Gallery Wall

Determining the layout is the best part of the whole process because you can get creative. If you are someone who has to have things perfectly straight and orderly, you should probably only consider an symmetrical layout design. If you prefer organic and artsy experiment with an asymmetrical design. Below are some examples of layouts for each. You can also add some other elements into your design to add interest. Shelves and quotes work great!

By now you should have some general idea of the look and feel you would like to create. You can sketch them out on paper or buy a variety of frames based on what you are thinking you want and play. I come up with my best layouts by laying the frames on the floor and arranging them. I just keep moving them around until I find I find a configuration that pleases me. I find it easiest to begin in the middle and work outward. Once I have determined their best placement, I choose what photos are going in which frame.

Step four: Choose photos for frames

Once you have decided on a layout, you can finalize your photo selection and determine which photo is going in each frame. For some you may need a landscape orientation and others you may need a portrait orientation. The main photo is usually the largest and centered. Once you have it perfect transfer it to the wall and hang. If you can’t hang them all that second, take a picture of them so you can remember the arrangement you decided on. If I had a dollar for every time I thought I didn’t need to do that because I would remember, …

Step five: Hang your photos

Hanging arrangements is the part that many people are afraid of. But don’t be because any nail holes that are made by error can easily be filled with DAP. Most of the time mistakes are hidden behind the picture anyhow.

Tips for hanging:

  • Start hanging from the center and work your way out.
  • The center of your arrangement should be eye level.
  • Keep the spaces between frames consistent. Generally speaking 3 inches works well.
  • Command strips help pictures stay straight.
  • Use a level

You now have all the tools you need to create an awesome gallery wall from family photos. I hope you were able to read last weeks post, Home Safe Home, which gave additional ideas for projects to do while “staying home”.

I hope that you all are doing well,are safe at home, and doing your part to flatten the curve. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this post. I would love to share more design ideas with you….

Home safe Home

My home has always been my safe-haven, but now the Corononavirus Pandemic and flattening the curve, gives that a whole new meaning. I have been staying at home as much as possible. Like most people, I have been listening to the news way too much, with the need to be informed. I have found it interesting to hear how others are coping. Mostly the tone is dismal. But yesterday a man interviewed said something different, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

He said his wife felt blessed to have been given the gift of time at home. Some people were probably put off by that statement. I didn’t take it as a selfish comment that was disrespectful to those who will become ill, lose loved ones, or perhaps lost their livelihood. For me, it was her coping mechanism and need to find the silver lining.

I understood her because it is my coping mechanism too. Believe me; I am heartbroken to see our country shutting down and by the global loss of life. My family has been impacted, and it is not business as usual. If I only think about the Pandemic and allow my worry to consume me, I will crumble. I am trying to focus on the silver lining because it is the only thing I can control in this world that is out of control.

My first blessing is my daughter, who works in the theater industry is home. She is not feeling blessed with the disruption, loss of wages and change to her everyday life. However, I am thankful she has chosen to stay home with us, fleeing her NYC apartment for the time being.

Next, I am looking forward to conquering the many projects on my to-do list that I have been unable to find the time for. I am sharing and expanding my list just in case you need some ideas on how to pass the time. My list is long. I may not get to it all, but having goals and being productive feels good right now.

Spring clean while staying home to flatten the curve

Finish spring cleaning

Last week in my “Spring is Coming” post I spoke about spring cleaning. Clean what doesn’t get done every week. For example, ceiling fans, high shelves, and ledges, and lighting fixtures. Seeing the crystals on your chandeliers sparkle will make you happy.

Organize Closets and Drawers

Throw out, give away, and donate. I think feeling organized can help you feel in control, which may be helpful right now.

Go through old photos

Organize family photos. Write who is in the picture and when it was taken on the back of the photo. Scan important ones and make photo books. Update the photos hanging in your home and in picture frames placed through your home.

Spruce up your home gym

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Since gyms are closed, it is an excellent time to dust off the treadmill and spruce up the room its in. If you enjoy being in the space, the likelihood that you will continue your exercise regime is greater.

Refinish a piece of furniture

Try out chalk paint and give a piece of furniture a new look. I have a few pieces that I am hoping to makeover. I’ll share if I get to it.

Paint a picture

Knowing that I was going to be staying at home, I stocked up on art canvas. I have some ideas for art I would like to create, but I am making myself finish cleaning and organizing first.

Rearrange a room’s furniture

If you are tired of being in the same place, switch the place up, so it seems different.

Make Pinterest Boards

Pinterest is a great resource to create boards for future decorating projects. Connect with me at There we can dream about the time when things return to some kind of normalcy.

If you have other ideas for home projects that would be good to accomplish now, feel free to add them by commenting below. I hope everyone reading this is in good spirits and health. Stay safe, my friends, and as always, thanks for reading.

Spring is Coming

Spring is coming but I like to jump-start it because March is always a blah month. Usually, there is no snow, no signs of life in the garden, and more than usual rainy, gray days. Like I said, “blah.”

March following a snowy winter is not as bad as March following a winter that has not brought a lot of snow. No snow plus a gray March is way too much icky blah-ness for me to handle. It creates an internal frenzy in me with a hefty appetite for color, brightness, and all things fun and whimsy.

I also feel a nesting instinct leading me to do some heavy spring cleaning, closet organizing, and total purge of excess stuff. Lightening the load is liberating, and I am happy to donate what I no longer need to worthy organizations.

I guess March is a “Renaissance” month for me. It is time to revitalize through cleaning/organizing rituals and get ready for the new life that spring brings. In the meantime, I jumpstart the spring season; that is where the color, brightness, and whimsy comes in.

Design2bhappy Ideas for March

Design2bhappy is about creating the best soul nurturing environment possible for yourself. If that sounds interesting, you may enjoy reading an earlier post, Design to be happy; what does that mean? Below are some ways to jumpstart Spring and get through the dreary days of March.

Spring clean and Organize

Clean things that don’t get cleaned weekly. Ceiling fans, china cabinets, ledges and shelves at high heights. I find this therapeutic. Going through closets and organizing can feel good too. I enjoy the process, and sometimes I uncover things forgotten about, or find photos and mementos that put a smile on my face.

Decorate for Spring

I enjoy making a few seasonal changes to my decor so that my eye doesn’t get stagnant and can appreciate the things I love. I wrote a lot about this a few months ago in a post titled, The Incredible Power of Seasonal Decor Changes. Switching things up from time to time is a valuable habit to adopt.

The owner of the chair above had a slipcover made so that it could transform from Winter to Spring. (Picture on left shows it slipcovered)

Brighten up your decor

I have talked before about adding pops of color to brighten your decor. But there are other ways to brighten too. You can add white. Surprised? Look how these white pillows add brightness! And to quote a designer-friend, “the pillows added another dimension to the room that makes it more interesting and they energized the space without adding a “color.”

Buy yourself flowers

Flowers have a way of brightening a room and making you smile.

Fresh flowers in a vase not only looks pretty but I believe they can elevate your mood. Usually I am not a fan of silk flowers however there are many good faux floral arrangements these days; I am changing my tune. If you can find one that looks good and makes you happy, who cares if they are silk or real.

Start your garden

Hellebores is a plant that grows in the Spring
Hellebores is a plant that grows in the Spring

If you love gardening, it is time to plant your seeds (indoors). If gardening is not your thing, but you would like to start enjoying some early blooms, Hellebores is a plant that blooms from February to May. It is a deer resistant, shade plant, usually with white or pink flowers.

Find your whimsy

whimsical wall decor of a deer head
Wall Decor by Artist Barbara Alyn

Life is so serious so why not add some whimsy to your decor. Add things that make you smile. The choice of what to add is personal. I was shopping in a Margaretville, NY with a friend and she purchased the deer head shown in the photo. It is a piece by artist Barbara Alyn. I think it is safe to say my friend found her whimsy. She said the piece just spoke to her and made her smile.

Enjoy the extra daylight

Now with daylight saving time, we have more daylight, which can be energizing. Enjoy it, and spend time doing what you like doing. Break the couch potato routine that one can fall into during the cold, dark winter.

Thanks for reading. Don’t miss any upcoming blogs from Design2bhappy by subscribing below.

foyer with bench

Five Super Ways to Improve Your Foyer

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Foyers can be large, small, or even part of another room. Whatever the scenario, it’s design should be carefully thought out just like all of the other rooms in your home. Your Foyer should welcome you home after a hard day’s work. What I mean is, you should walk in and say, ‘ahhh’ I am home. Also, your Foyer is the first place guests see. We have all heard the expression that you don’t get a second chance for a first impression. Here are some tips to help create a Foyer that you will love.

1- If you don’t have a Foyer, create one.

If your entrance to your home is part of another room, consider ways that you can define the space. This can be easily accomplished with how you arrange your furniture. A sofa can act as a space divider. Place a sofa table behind it, and it can do double duty as an entrance table. This is an excellent tip for smaller spaces.

Even large spaces can lack a formal Foyer. Currently, I am in the final stages of a remodel where the living room is quite large. It also has a vaulted ceiling, which makes the room seem even more expansive. Even with the room’s large size, there was no Foyer or coat closet. The floor-plans below show how a closet was added, which defined the space to create a foyer. 

The result of this successful remodel is the home now has a foyer and a much-needed coat closet. The homeowners were able to do away with the overloaded coat rack and boot tray, which were the first things you saw walking in the door. Now, rather than walking into a large boxy room, you walk into a cozy foyer, which is more architecturally pleasing.

2- Make sure your Foyer is organized

Foyers can easily become messy. We come home put down packages, keys and take off coats and shoes. The trick is to have a designated spot for all of the things that need storage in your entrance way. Also beware of the pitfall of routinely dropping items there that belong someplace else. This way your entrance will never look messy or cluttered.

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash
  • Add a table with a drawer. The drawer can hold keys; a basket could be used for mail or other necessary papers, keeping it organized.
  • Have adequate storage for coats and shoes. This can be a closet, an armoire, coat rack or hooks on the wall. If you use a hall tree or hooks, make sure it doesn’t become a catch-all for every coat you own. Just keep the seasonal few you are using there so it won’t be an eyesore.
Trim and molding can add architectural interest to a Foyer

3- Select the perfect paint or wallpaper

If you have a traditional home, your Foyer is in the middle of your home and connects to a few different rooms. When this is the case, it is crucial to pick a color that is a good ‘bridge’ to connect to the other rooms. The desired outcome is for the colors to flow from room to room. They do not have to be the same; they just have to harmonize well.

Foyer with pictures  and staircase
Wallpaper and molding detail adds visual interest to this neutral colored Foyer

Wallpaper can be an excellent choice for Foyers because it brings depth and interest to the walls that can’t be achieved with paint. It also is a good “bridge” to connect colors between rooms. A wallpaper with a few different colors in it can give you the inspiration for the colors to decorate the adjoining rooms.

Wallpaper can be an excellent choice for neutral-colored rooms as well. Wallpaper add texture and visual interest to a neutral palette.

4- Choose durable materials

Foyers get a lot of traffic. Choose durable materials for the walls and floors.  

  • For paint, choose a product that is washable, scrub-able, and easy to touch up if needed. Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint is a great choice and will hold up over time.
  • Tile for the floor is the easiest to care for, but if it doesn’t work with your design scheme, take other precautions to make sure your floors will stay looking great. Choose doormats that are specifically made to protect your floors in entrance ways.  
  • Choose colors and products that are easy to maintain and don’t look dirty fast.
Add what makes you happy


Your home should reflect you and the others that live in your home. Don’t get so caught up in creating a magazine-worthy Foyer that you overlook adding your personal effects. Incorporate the things you love, and what makes you happy. After all, making it a home that is perfect for you is what it is all about!

Thanks for reading! More Design To Be Happy tips coming up….