Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Great Moments Great Room Gallery


At long last, our great room gallery is done! I started working on this around the same time as we hung our anniversary frames, which was about six weeks ago. It took forever, but I'm so happy with how it came out. Living with a brain injury, it's hard for me to remember things without visual cues. Seeing photos around my house fills me with a joy I didn't realize I was missing. I think this makes Niels happier about putting in the time to help me finish this project!

Since we moved into our house seven months ago, I knew I wanted to have a photo gallery on this big 14' high wall in our great room. 
I loved reading posts about other people's gallery, but I didn't find a lot of explanation about how these bloggers decided to arrange their galleries. So, here is more info than you probably ever cared to read about planning our gallery, showing probably the slowest possible way to do the job!

Like I said, I wanted  to put up a gallery, but the idea was been too overwhelming, so I couldn't get started. I had been searching Pinterst for photo gallery inspiration, and kept coming back to this one:
Picture Wall
Source: Martha Stewart
The center space and random but orderly layout appealed to both Niels and I. My favorite frame place suddenly stopped carrying the frames I wanted in all sizes, so I had to work a little harder to find inexpensive frames that worked together. These frames came from Flower Factory, Ollies, Menards, Target, and Pat Catan. 

For several weeks, the frames set out on the floor as I tried to figure out what kind of arrangement we wanted.

I knew I wanted to incorporate our monogram somehow, and maybe something that showed our Dutch side. My mom gave us these wooden shoes for our anniversary, so I played around with the idea of using them.

I decided to ditch the shoes on the wall. (I put them on the mantle instead) and spread out the letters.

The letters came from our son's nursery. His name was a surprise, so we always called him Baby DJ before his arrival. Most people thought it stood for Baby de Jong, but it was actually the initials of his first and middle names. At nearly four, he prefers his first name over DJ, so I took his letters for the gallery.
 
Then I covered them in the same metallic vinyl that I used in Marissa's room. 

I love repurposing things. Especially when it doesn't cost me a thing!

Next, I spent many sentimental days looking through all the photos since we met six years ago and trying to narrow down to my favorites. This is when I realized I'm going to need more galleries!

For this gallery, I tried to chose photos that captured a specific moment or day, like this one of Niels and our first "baby" Bailey, on her last day before we lost her to liver failure. I just love how this captures their love for each other. Even though she was my dog first, she sure became a Daddy's girl fast.

The process of selecting photos took a good week or so. I also printed more photos I loved that will go in the family gallery upstairs...eventually. Finally, I had all the photos ready and the arrangement set. 

And then life got busy. Marissa arrived. We were gone for a week for my sister's wedding. I was hit with a killer headache. I wasn't sure how to get the photos up on the wall.

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this great tutorial on how to use paper as a template.

First, I traced each frame onto paper. Eventually, I learned that it was easier to put the photo side down.

I cut out the template, and used tape and a Sharpie to match frames to their corresponding paper. I wrote the number on the template to intentionally indicate orientation.

I used a pen to mark where the nail holes should be.  

Some frames were easier to mark than others.

As I was working, I put the frames over the templates to prevent the papers from rolling.

Once all the templates were done, I realized that I needed to move all the frames over so I could be close enough to the wall to hang them up. 

So I slid all the frames and templates over about two feet.

We decided we wanted a two inch space between the upper and lower photos, so we eyeballed the middle of the room, and marked the space.

We used our infrared level to line up the templates along the line.

Then double checked that we liked where the center of the layout was placed. This would have been easier if we hadn't pushed the couch over.

Our couch is 36" tall, so we set the center gallery line between 64" and 66" from the floor. I taped the bottom frames down, and Niels did the uppers because I couldn't reach!

Once the template was up, we took a short break to make sure we liked it, since everything was eyeballed after the center line.

Next, we traced the corner of the template, before taking it down to figure the nail placement.

Then we put the template back up and put in the screw, removed the paper, and hung up the frame. We still had to make some adjustments, but that was due to my elementary cutting skills, I think. 

Numbering the templates and frames was brilliant, especially since we used many of the same size frames.

Once again, we stopped after hanging the center four frames to make sure we liked the look. We did.

We tagged team putting our son down so we could keep going. After all the delays, I was determined to finish before we went to bed!

While Niels was handling the drill, I was making sure the frames were ready to hang. Some of the bargain frames I bought didn't have hanging hardware, so I had to superglue them on. We also removed the stands because they prevented the frames from laying flat. Some people might not want to do this, but I know that I don't tend to change my decor for awhile, so I'm fairly certain we'll keep these frames in exactly the same place until they are old and dated.

It's too bad I didn't any ideas to re-purpose all those stands. 

It definitely took more than the five or ten minutes I had read that it would, but we liked the way it was coming along.

One of the (many) things I appreciate about Niels is his attention to detail and perfection when it comes to these kinds of things. Look at that nice clean line!

Finally, the last frame!

Niels took this photo at 11pm at night, with just the upstairs light and windows for lighting. I LOVE it!

The view from the stairs. I really, really like seeing photos of my favorite moments as soon as I walk downstairs to start my day.

After dropping D off school today, I was determined to finish the wall. Niels did all the heavy lifting last night getting the frames in. All that I had to do was the vinyl quote we picked up on our anniversary overnight date. I eyeballed the placement in the little dip on top. 

It says, "Capture the moments that take your breath away."


This is the fifth vinyl I've put up, so it's finally getting easier. (And really makes me want a Silhouette Cameo so I can make my own!)

The new view of our great room!


The finished wall!

View from the stairs. Here you can see where the wooden shoes ended up.

I like the way the glass in the mirrors reflect the light.

The metallic letters reflect light well, too.

I thought about covering the sides of the letter with vinyl or paint, but I like the subtle color difference between the metallic front, white sides, and SW Mindful Gray paint on the wall.

After sitting on the couch looking contentedly at our pretty new wall, I had just the push I needed to order the 24"x 36" family photo that will hang above the fireplace. The great room is thisclose to being done! But I'm really happy with how far we've come.




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