Julia came with me to see the house that had made my heart flutter when I saw it on Zillow just the evening before. We walked into the door and this was our view. Except…of course it was empty and one wall was painted an “accent” sage green. (That was painted within three days of getting the keys.) Getting to walk through a potential house with Jules is everything you’d think it would be. Her eyes survey every angle, she thinks out loud the entire time, and brags about its potential–in short, the ultimate hype girl when you are also loving the house and need a push of encouragement. The very first idea she blurted was “Ooooo art ledges here!” Ledges. Plural. I could immediately picture it! (pun intended) We moved in late October and after covering a lot of necessities of getting ourselves set up in a new home (washer…dryer…beds…PAINT…) I knew I wanted to tackle our gallery wall before the holidays.
Here’s the thing: I’m a photographer. I have digital archives, that are even pretty organized. I document big passport trips and little park outings and have done the whole song and dance of passing my Canon off to a total stranger and giving them a mini tutorial to get that portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower. (see above) I know I don’t have to sell you on the value of photographs, but you may be surprised that I had to be sold on hanging family photos in our home. We just had never done it before. Our family’s memories were documented, but not on display. I didn’t want to go too matchy with uniform frames, (and worse when all 10 photos are from the same shoot, guys…you gotta vary it up!) and I wanted to stay away from a whole gallery wall where everyone is looking at the camera in the shot. That would just feel like an audience every time you came into our front door. I wanted to curate a wall that was full of a lot of moments that would make us happy when we look at it. I wanted to curate a wall that included those nostalgic photos that pop up on Facebook memories or the ones that are buried deep in subfolders that make you so happy when they’re found again! I didn’t want to hold back putting up framed shots of our son, even if there were two on each shelf. I also liked the idea of including original art I’ve collected over the new years, and maybe throwing some new prints into the mix. (Etsy for the win, leaving you with sources at the end here!) What it boiled down to was: family photos in black and white, art prints in color…and my frames would be gold, wood, white or black.
The picture ledges are the MOSSLANDA 45 1/4″ black ones from IKEA. You can find a similar style on Amazon, and bonus, they come in a set of 2! We put two ledges together to have them span almost the whole length of the wall. Confession: I was very hesitant on doing this. What if they don’t line up perfectly? What if it’s super obvious we put two ledges together? Do we even have a level? My dad and husband, David, got all 6 ledges up in a couple hours, with some meticulous measuring and leveling. My verdict is they really came off looking seamless and you can’t tell it’s two put together–even less once you start loading up with art!
Ok so there are some photos of people looking at the camera. From left to right: My Davids. My grandparents in a photobooth when they were dating, and boyfriend/girlfriend “us” in Puerto Vallarta. But, I think what makes them work is their size. They range from 8×10 to 4×6. I purposely made our wedding dinner photo (below) a luxe 16×20 solely for the fact that half of us aren’t looking at the camera. Just another tip to keep in your back pocket!
Of course you know of the infamous CLJ DIY Art Ledge: 3 pieces of wood, some screws, wood stain, it was a game changer post for so many people. Which would be why you’re asking yourself right now “Andi, why didn’t you just DIY the ledges?” To which I would direct you to my question above “Do we even own a level?” Look, there’s DIYers, and then there’s those of us that DIY means you make the call of who to hire. Like, you do that call yourself.
The icing on the cake was installing our IKEA track lighting to really make our memories feel like a curated collection. You may have caught in my Stories that I felt it was a little too bright and jarring at first. I’m happy to report a dimmer was installed this week and that wall just sings now! (Ask me if we installed that dimmer ourselves.) Majority of our frames are from IKEA, Target, and the occasional TJMaxx find, but I’m leaving you with a round-up of styles and sizes across the board (at budget-friendly price points!!) that will have your curating your own gallery wall in no time!
Etsy downloadable prints I purchased for the wall:
Andrea Bradley de Ahedo is a stylist and commercial photographer who recently moved to Idaho after living abroad in Monterrey, Mexico to be the Visual Media Producer for Chris Loves Julia. She loves foraging for unique spoons and bowls for her ever-growing prop collection, and shooting flatlays for days. She feels most at home when she is traveling with her husband and toddler son in tow. You can check her out on Instagram at @andiandreastudio.