Monday, January 2, 2012

Southwestern Gallery Wall

The holiday season is finally over. After making the rounds to four separate family gatherings and spending countless hours shopping, gift wrapping, and cooking, Alex and I were ready to spend some time at home this weekend. He surprised me on Saturday morning by going to Goodwill for 50% off day and getting ten frames for the gallery wall that we have been talking about making since we bought our house last July. Having the frames in hand was all of the motivation we needed to finally get the project done.

One of our biggest inspirations for this project was this gallery wall by Jenn of Wanting What I Have that was featured on The Handmade Home. We love how eclectic and personalized it is.

We decided to go with a southwestern theme for our gallery wall because our southwestern culture is a huge part of who we are. Other than that, the only other real restriction that we placed upon ourselves was the color scheme-- we decided to go with a mixture of wood and gold frames.

We noticed that there was a reoccurring theme in all of the gallery walls that we liked: they all incorporated three-dimensional objects into their designs. We already had some animal skulls and antiques from our travels around the state, so we decided to use those. The only things that didn't have hangers were the wolf skulls, so I mounted sawtooth brackets on the mastoid process bones (thanks, Mom!) with hot glue.

For the record, all of the animal skulls and bones we have were either found while hiking or given to us by family member whose father used to own an antique store.

Admittedly, we didn't have any frame sizes in mind when Alex bought the frames from Goodwill-- he just picked frames in a variety of sizes that he found aesthetically pleasing, and then we went through our art collection and found pieces that would fit in them. There were a few pieces that we had to trim down a bit to get them to fit into the frames. I recommend looking for frames that fit pieces that you already have in order to save money. Remember, you can always paint a frame to give it a whole new look!

There were a few pieces, like this cowboy kid screenprint that Alex made, that were not standard sizes and were too small for the frames. We're going to mount this piece on burlap. You could also have a mat custom cut at a place like Michaels or Jo-Ann.

We laid everything out on the floor before hanging anything on the wall in order to plan our design. We decided to go with a more organic shape instead of perfectly squared edges so that it would be easier to add more things over time if we so choose.

We knew that we wanted the edge of the left skull to fall roughly over the center of our bookcase/cubbies, so we started at the center and worked our way out as we hung things on the wall. We readjusted a few things along the way, but we didn't measure space between the frames or anything like that. An excellent tip for hanging your gallery wall is to lay your frames face down, take butcher paper or tracing paper and lay it on top of your frames, and then mark where the nail hole for each frame should go on the paper with a pen. Then you can just tape the paper up on the wall and drive the nails through the marks.

Here's a key of each item included in our gallery wall:

1. A metal owl trivet from an antique store
2. A pen drawing of a fox with multiple sets of eyes by my fiancé, Alex
3. A square gold frame, which we have yet to fill-- it's currently holding whatever art it came with from Goodwill
4. A framed picture of cowboys in a saloon from an antique store
5. A rectangular gold frame, which will be home to the cowboy kid screenprint pictured above
6. An empty square gold frame from Goodwill, which we have yet to fill
7. A framed pastel portrait of a baby from an antique store
8. A screenprint by one of Alex's friends from art school
9. Two wolf skulls, given to us by a family member whose father used to own an antique store
10. A clock made from a hubcap, a saw blade, and a set of antique dominoes by Alex's mom, Sharon
11. A photo that Alex took of an abandoned house
12. A photo that Alex took of the base of a water tower
13. A photo from a group art exhibition that Alex did in college
14. A print of a drawing of a bobcat by a family member
15. A print of We Are Who We Are by Robert Garcia

The result is a gallery wall that is distinctly us. It's about 5' tall and about 6' wide, and it really helps balance out the vaulted ceilings in our living room. Because we bought all of the frames that we needed at Goodwill on 50% off day and used objects and art that we already had, this project only cost about $24 to complete. That's a pretty fair price for a project that makes our house feel much more like a home!


  1. I really love that wall-it is not only totally you two--but it's just so stylish and tells a cool story. Great job!

  2. This looks fantastic! Wolf!

  3. @sister outlaws, thanks! We were told that they are wolf skulls. They are definitely some sort of canine skull, but we're not 100% sure what type!

  4. I love your wall. It makes me want to head over to Goodwill and get some miscellaneous frames to decorate the blank wall in my craft room.

  5. @Adsila, you should! This project was surprisingly cheaper and easier than we thought that it would be.