Informal Picture Wall

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaHow I created a random looking, 14-piece group for my daughter’s new living room.

Our youngest daughter (DD2) bought a house over a year ago.  Built in the mid-90’s, it hasn’t been updated.   Needless to say, there has been a lot to do to bring it up-to-date while filling the wants and needs of a young adult.  Entering the house, the foyer opens into the dining room (to the right) and living room (straight ahead).  A wall of large windows allows a view of the backyard from this entire area.  Luckily, our three children inherited my decorating gene.  DD2 knows what she wants but relies on Mom to help her carry it out.  Mistakes can be costly at any age.  Over the next few months, I look forward to sharing several decorating projects I’ll be doing with her.

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaToday, I want to show how I created a picture wall above the living room sofa.  First, we purchased a large roll of brown masking paper (normally used to cover the floor while painting).  It’s inexpensive and always nice to have on hand for projects.  I went to work at the dining room table.  I rolled out the paper and traced the outline of each of her  frames with a carpenter’s pencil.  I wrote the frame material (white paint, rough wood or bronze metal) and size of the photograph it holds inside the outlined area.  This keeps the information readily available, so that the framing material and picture sizes can be nicely mixed within the grouping.

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaAfter cutting out each frame  pattern and outlining other items we had purchased to mix in, Layla helped move them around the floor until I was happy with the grouping.  DD2 wanted them randomly spaced and mixed with a few found objects.  She thought that would have a younger feel than symmetrical rows – I have to agree. Notice the large empty space near the center – I had already started the next step when I realized I needed to find my iPhone and take a photo. (Oops!)

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaOnce I began placing the patterns on the wall, I decided they needed to hang the opposite from the way I had placed them on the floor.  I emailed the photo to myself and flipped it on my laptop.  I then used the laptop photo as a guide while putting them up on the wall with blue painter’s tape.  Even though this was temporary, I made sure to check everything with a small level to get them straight for fear of making  the grouping lopsided.

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaThis took longer than planned, but was well worth “seeing” before putting nails in the semi-freshly painted walls.  Also, I wanted DD2’s approval and didn’t want to hang them by myself.  Warning: painter’s tape does not stick for more than a day or two, depending on the weather.  She called the next afternoon to say some patterns were starting to come off the wall.

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaOnce she gave her approval, we started with the larger frames. Mr. Shops measured the frames for hook placements, transferred those measurements to each  brown-paper pattern, then hammered in the picture hangers before taking down the paper.  That’s a super easy way to get everything exactly where it should be — or so I thought.  Only after uploading the photos did I notice the far right/upper frame was hanging vertically.  Not knowing a few of the patterns had fallen off completely, I didn’t double-check their exact placement before we began. (Oops #2!)  I had wondered why it was so close to the trim but never considered that DD2 had replaced one incorrectly.  It was an easy fix, so no biggie.

Photograph selections were actually not finalized until after the frames were up.  Having already ordered the metal letter “K” it was temporarily installed, but has since been replaced with a blue letter “A.”  DD2 emailed me her favorite picture choices and I narrowed them down, making sure the subject matter, as well as the red and color vs sepia were scattered somewhat evenly.

before of living roomHere’s the before. I considered showing it earlier but didn’t want to scare anyone away right off the bat.  Mr. Shops already had removed the carpet, and put hand-scraped hardwood flooring down in its place.  The walls were painted Benjamin Moore Frappe (AF-85) in their Aura paint (which he can’t say enough good things about).  The brass chandelier has been replaced but the dining area will be revealed another day.

how to arrange a picture wall over a sofaAlmost everything was purchased locally. All of the frames are from Pottery Barn.  The chair, throw pillows, coffee table and round table are from AtHome Furnishings.  The painted end table was found at my favorite local antique store along with the vintage saddle stretcher, wooden box (both hanging on the wall) and vintage hand-blown glass lamp.  DD2 still needs to decide what to put in the wooden box.  Purple modular carpet tiles are from FLOR, which was recently featured on Atticmag.  Curtain panels are next on her list and will almost complete the space.  The chair is one of a pair and will be moved to the master bedroom sitting area when a replacement is found.  She loves the picture wall and the way the room is taking shape.  I like that it can be changed as her life changes.

For more of DD2’s home see Dining Room Redo, Eclectic Gender-Neutral Nursery, Hidden Laundry Spaces , Guest Room Turned Playroom and My Daughter’s Master Bath Redo and the Master Bedroom Redo.

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50 Responses to Informal Picture Wall

  1. Kim January 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    That looks great and I have seen that done before using paper for placement first. I should try that some time instead of making nail holes.

  2. Carrie January 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Great tutorial! There really is an art to creating such a beautiful wall.

    I would be honored to have you add it to my blog party

    Amaze Me Monday Blog Party

  3. Lacy January 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    I love this! I just started a gallery wall that I plan to add to gradually. These walls really allow you to show your personality a little more!

  4. burlap+blue January 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    LOVE this! Very cohesive, yet interesting and not matchy-matchy. Just discovered your site and I’m so glad I did! Can’t wait to look around! xo

  5. Judy @ In His Grip January 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    This looks great. I like that you used more than just pictures and you added other things as well.

  6. Sarah January 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Looks AMAZING! Nice work and thanks for stopping by ThreeBoys:)

  7. Terry Moore January 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Looks great…can I have a Mr. Shops?

  8. The Polka Dot Closet January 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    How lucky your daughter is to have you decorating. A large blank wall although it would seem easy to fill is the most difficult! You did a wonderful job!! Thanks for stopping by!


  9. Courtney January 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Hi Allison~ The wall looks great. I should really use paper too before nailing away!! We have old knotty pine walls, so at least I am not repairing sheetrock if it doesn’t look good! lol! Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment. Have a great day! :)

  10. janet January 17, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    LOVE IT!!! your daughter is very lucky, adds such character to the room and you have inspired me, would love to do this in my eating room.

  11. Kelly @ JAX does design January 17, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    I love gallery walls, and your DD2’s wall looks great! Love the combination of framed pieces and objects. And fantastic idea to use the brown paper to not only create the layout.

  12. The Wandering Cottage January 17, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I love the wall and the whole room! It is so fun! Our first home had the before color everywhere. It was built in the 90s.

    • The Wandering Cottage January 17, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      I love the eclectic pillow arrangement. I had to come back and ask if you had any pointers for achieving this look. I buy pillow covers in “sets”, and I would love tips for mixing them up for a new look.

  13. Paula January 17, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    You created a very interesting wall display for your daughter. I’ve used your method a few times and it really works!

  14. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions January 17, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    That turned our wonderfully, Allison! Great idea using the paper patterns ~ saves lots of misplaced nail holes {I know this first hand}!

  15. Jenn (GreenDoorGirl) January 17, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Looks GREAT – I love the wooden spoon. Your cut outs of the frames are MUCH nicer than mine – LOL. I posted about a gallery wall two weeks ago and mine were fairly messy – LOL – but it still worked! :) I also how the whole room came together including the hardwood and the furniture and wall color!

  16. Allison January 17, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Thank you, everyone! She will enjoy reading your comments.

    Jenn, the “wooden spoon” is really a wooden horse saddle stretcher. I bought it for my house, but she liked it so I’m letting her borrow for a few years.

    Wandering Cottage, the pillows have been a learning experience for DD2. Several have moved around the house – the paisley pillow (second from left) used to be in the MBR until she had some made. I’ve tried to teach her to look at things differently – buy things that can go in several rooms, moved around the house – so that she can rearrange if/when she gets bored without having to shop/spend money.

  17. Lisa Goulet January 17, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my chairs. I love artwalls and this is a great tutorial on how to do it correctly. I’m looking forward to seeing the dining room.

  18. deedee January 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Excellent change! The room looks fantastic!
    Dee Dee

  19. Keisha Lynn @ Project Campbell January 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Wow, it looks wonderful!!! I love all the colors in the room… so warm!!!

  20. {oc cottage} January 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    OH MY GOSH! You are soooooooo precise! And I LOVE your assistant!

    m ^..^

  21. sherry @ No Minimalist here January 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    The picture wall looks wonderful. Hanging a group of pictures can be challenging. Doing it this way is a great idea.

  22. Madison aka DD2 January 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    This post turned out great! Very thorough with the how-to steps. I love the way the picture wall turned out. It really helps make the living room feel more “homey”. I had forgotten how the living room looked like an Easter egg when the house was first bought (cringe)! Thank goodness for a decor-savvy mother and a handy father!

  23. Rene January 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    That is a great gallery wall. Thanks for the tips!


  24. Allison January 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    ;D @ Madison. The entire house looked like an Easter egg. Can’t wait to get those kitchen cabinets painted!! Love you.

    Allison aka Mom

    OC Cottage (and everyone else), Thank you! Layla was a huge help. Her sister, Lola, missed out on the photo op… as well as the dogs.

  25. tina January 18, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Allison – so glad you linked this post so that I didn’t miss it! Love Madison’s room – can’t wait to see more of her house. Different style from her sister, but both inherited your good taste. Love the colors and the photo wall turned out great!!


  26. Allison January 18, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Thanks, Tina. Glad you found – can’t start my own, so links have to do.

  27. the cape on the corner January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    wow, that really looks great, and i love how you tried it out beforehand. very smart.

  28. J&JHome February 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    What a difference it made to the room. I love the cutouts. By the way, the chair next to the small table is beautiful. Thanks for stopping by.

  29. Ashleigh February 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    This looks great!

    I am drooling over that coffee table. Gorgeous!


  30. Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys February 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    So that’s how you do it!! Thank you for sharing. I love her coffee table too.

    Thank you visiting and commenting on the sewing stand AND tge chalkboard. I actually made that too. You can check it out here

  31. autum February 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Looks great! My daughter is hoping to buy a house a few doors down from us. I’m really excited about helping her make it beautiful.

  32. Dawn February 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    First, thank you for stopping by and checking out my DIY Concrete Counter Tops. Love your wall art. Wish I had a place for such a look. Living in a home with 30 ft ceilings makes it hard to decorate. You did a wonderful job.
    Have a Great Night :)

  33. Karen February 22, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Great tips and a wonderful job. Thanks so much for visiting.

  34. Sharyl@Thelittlebrownhouse February 22, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    It looks fabulous! I love the way you used the paper for placement, great tip!

  35. Cindy February 22, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Besides the pictures, which look great, I love the furniture and all the colors together. Thanks for stopping by my blog and introducing me to this site.

  36. Beth Stone February 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Hi Allison,

    The picture wall looks great… and what a clever idea to place everything first with the paper cutouts. Thanks for sharing, and also for your kind comments on my blog earlier!

  37. Sarah February 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Love it again! I am so terrible at accessorizing. The house and well as myself:) Great blog!!!

  38. Amy of WhisperWood Cottage & Junkologie February 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Nice! Such a great process. Totally digging that coffee table, too!

  39. Diane@InMyOwnStyle February 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm #


    This wall came out great. I like the way you mixed different elements into it. DD2 must be pretty happy with the paint transformation, too. I smiled seeing your kitty in your photos – mine has to always see what I am up to and takes advantage of every photo op.
    My best- Diane

  40. Kindra February 23, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Wow! What a difference with the before and after of that room! I love the collection of the pictures and wall hangings. It adds so much to the room!!

  41. angie February 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    wow, that wall looks great! thanks for the tips – I would love to do the same in my living room.

  42. Laura November 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Love it! What is the wall color? Is it a yellow-ish neutral?

  43. Allison November 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you, Laura. It’s Benjamin Moore Frappe (AF-85) in their Aura paint. It looks more yellow on my monitor than in real life. It reminds me of a darker version of warm ivory make-up… but it can sometimes read a slight yellow. It is the same paint color in the Eclectic Gender Nursery – have you seen that post? Don’t look at the crib wall, but the dresser/glider wall for the true color (at least on my monitor).


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