{create} gallery wall, part deux

A little insight to my family: My parent's are completely amazing. They are the type of parents that I hope I can be if/when we have a kiddo. One of my greatest memories growing up, and even now, is Christmas. My mom's favorite holiday, she spends an enormous amount of time picking gifts that she knows the recipient will LOVE. The thought and details she puts into making sure that everyone is happy (both via gifts and experiences) is truly outstanding. 

My parents also happen to be impossible to buy gifts for. They are at that stage in life where if they want something, they buy it. So a few years ago I decided that I wanted to make sure my parents had as memorable a Christmas as they'd always given to us kids growing up. I teamed up with my younger brother, Jeff, to gift them experiences for Christmas. Concerts they would never buy tickets to, but would love, a tour of Oregon's wine country with their close friends, etc. 

Why am I telling you all this? Because today I'm going to share what we gift them this year: a gallery wall. Not an experience, per se, but also not something they would ever create themselves.

They sort of unexpectedly moved out of the house they'd lived in for 30 years, a couple years ago. It's taken my mom a couple years to really get comfortable and start to decorate. The downstairs is gorgeous, but the upstairs walls are a little neglected. This is the view when you walk in the door. Because of the insane staircase, you automatically look up to see ... nothing.

Here's the wall. Jeff is a super amazing photographer, and every once in a while I get a good shot. So we decided to pull together some of our best photos of places that have meaning to my parents and create a gallery wall.

Here's how we went about doing that :

1. Creating a layout doesn't have to be as structured as I'm showing here. You can see how I created the layout for my own gallery wall here. It was way more casual. But, since this was a gift I wanted my parents to see what we had in mind for the wall right away. So I pulled all the photos into Adobe Illustrator, sized and scaled them to the wall measurements. I came up with three layout,s and Jeff and I picked one. The perk of this is we realized we were short one frame and were able to get a new picture framed without holding up the whole process. We also gave this layout to my parents after they'd opened all the frames so they could see what we were planning.

2. I think paper guides are a MUST DO for large gallery walls. Even though we had a very specific guide, we ended up making a couple minor changes once the guides were on the walls. Moving taped paper is so much easier than creating more nail holes.

3. Hang the frames. Here Jeff  and Chris working hard, while I'm .... managing taking photos. HAHA!

This one was also a HUGE help ;)

4. Remove the paper guides from under the frames. And, you're done!

You can see that we mixed brown and black frames. All from IKEA. We tried to get the widest variety of IKEA frames to keep it from being too matchy-matchy. 

Do you recognize the bridge sunset picture above? It's from our trip to Astoria last summer! My mom grew up there and my parents met there. I was so happy to captured such an awesome moment in that town to share with them.

And, here's the view now when you walk in the stairs. So. Much. Better. My parents LOVE it, which is the most important thing of all.

Have you ever created a gallery wall for someone else?? What unique gifts have you given someone in the past?

ps. If you'd like to take a look at my gallery wall, you find it here.

I am also linking up to:


  1. You guys did an amazing job! What a great idea for a gift! You're right- parents are tough to buy for! But giving them personal experiences, memories are priceless and so meaningful! It looks great in their beautiful home.

  2. I love love this and I love that wall color - do you know what it is? Great job!

    1. Thanks Ruth! And, unfortunately, none of us know what the color is. It came with the house, with no explanation.

    2. Thanks anyway!! :)

  3. Wow, this looks AMAZING! You guys did a great job! Your parents house looks nice! Future home tour? :)


  4. LOVING your gallery wall! Seriously...this is gorgeous! Just stunning! Great job!

  5. you class biotch! I love it!!!!! =) Especially the photos -- they really pop against the frames and matting b/c of all the vivid colors and scenes! <3

  6. ahh I meant classy -- I need to quit drinking so much coffee before I blog =)

  7. awesome! wow, want to come over and do a gallery wall for me??? it's on my "to do" list. i also pinned your how to - thanks for that.

  8. Fantastic. What a great idea. Parents are indeed hard to buy for. I like the experience idea. This turned out so beautifully. Well done!

  9. What an amazing gift, I am sure your parents LOVED it! You and your brother not only did a beautiful job with the photos but with the well thought through end product. Reminds me of the gift we give to my in-laws each year of a scrapbook page with photos from the year past. Each one of my husband's siblings create one and when we visit, that scrapbook is always looked at.

  10. Jenn, this is GORGEOUS! You guys did great work! And the photos are stunning....what an awesome gift for two incredible people! Give them hugs for me next time you see them. :) GREAT WORK friend!



  11. The gallery wall looks wonderful! Perfect gift :) I love the Astoria bridge photo and that pup is pretty darn cute!

  12. What a wonderful gift and I'm sure your parents stop many times throughout the day to admire their new feature wall. This past Christmas I got my Mom a few decorative items for her home because I know she would never buy them herself. I'll have to keep this idea in mind as it's personal and meaningful. Great job Jenn!

  13. oooh, I love this as a gift idea! I'll definitely stick it in the idea bank for my mom!

  14. Wow you knocked that gallery wall outta the park. PERFECTLY done! I bet your mom was thrilled with the result - it's beautiful!

  15. Wow! I love your idea of putting paper frames up first. We just did a similar thing in our living room. And putting up frames so that they look random yet still look good is way harder than you would think. Check out our blogpost on what we did here:


    Please leave a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts :)
    I'll be sure to add your blog to my blog list on my site :)

  16. Not only is your arrangement great... but those photos are stunning! What a great gift... I always have trouble finding gifts for my parents too!


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