Our gallery wall was the only part of our kitchen that I didn’t plan ahead, and yet I love how it came together and brings in a little color and cheer to our white space.
In round one of our kitchen plans, this wall was slated to be a built in beverage center for the coffee maker, alcohol, wine fridge, etc. but after scaling back the project to make it do-able while our kids are in college, that non-essential idea got cut (although we might add it in later on!)
We have enjoyed this little seating area so much – everyone hangs out in this space – and after mulling over a few options of what to do with this blank wall, I borrowed 4 of these framed travel pics from our family room to try out, and the idea of putting something colorful and reflective here really grew on me.
Some of you may recall I had black framed family photos on this same wall for a few years,
then the ginormous photo I printed onto a shower curtain to make custom “canvas” art for this area.
I’ve also done the whole “travel” wall thing before too, but the white on white frames and mats in the grid give this wall a fresh feel for our new kitchen.
These photos were all snapped by us on vacations and none of them are particularly sharp or high quality photography, but framed up and grouped en masse they look decent, and remind us of some of our favorite places from New England spots like Cape Cod, Nantucket and Lake Winnipesaukee to amazing faraway trips we’ve taken with the kids through the years to Hawaii and Ireland.
I used to own a professional framing company and know very well how framing can truly elevate anything, from a photograph to a print, a family recipe written on an index card, a newspaper clipping or a child’s drawing. While professional framing is great for special, one of a kind family items or original art, you can create a really well done gallery wall using ready made frames at a fraction of the cost of custom framing.
Here are a few tips to elevate your own gallery wall of ready made frames
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Check for well joined frame corners! Always check ready made frames to ensure the miter cuts are joined without a gap and have no damage. I included a bunch of frame recommendations at the end of this post that I have either used myself or seen in person. For a gallery wall it’s great to score a sale or big coupon!
Use acid free matting (and photos or prints). Why? Acid free matting will not discolor your picture over time, and the cut part of the mat on the perimeter of your picture will stay white over time and not age or yellow. Most ready made mats are acid free today but it’s worth checking. If whatever you are framing is one of a kind and you want to preserve it for generations, make sure everything in the frame from the mat to the backer board is acid free.
I don’t tend to worry too much about whether all the materials in a frame are acid free when I’m creating fun gallery walls with ready made framing, but in custom framing if you’re going to the expense of having it done professionally, conservation grade materials are the best quality and way to go.
Consider an oversized mat. If your frame comes with a mat that you like, great. If it doesn’t come with a mat you can buy regular ready cut mats for typical sizes like 8×10 and 16×20, however I love the look of an oversized mat. Also, the mats that come with Ikea frames are not standard US photo sizes so I often use these options below with them in particular:
Order custom mats either at your local frame shop or online and pair it with your ready made frame. This is a great option when using a ready made frame for an item like a newspaper clipping or old photo that is not a standard photo size. I have used this company and this one before and both did a great job.
Purchase a thicker ply mat. A standard mat is 4 ply; an 8 ply mat looks a little more special and I love to use these when I frame prints as gifts. My favorite combination is a 16×20 frame with these 8 ply mats with an 8×10 cut out that are intended for signatures and notes for a wedding or graduation (they come in other sizes too). They are acid free and way less expensive than a custom cut 8 ply mat!!
Sources For Mats and Ready Made Frames
This is my favorite acid free 8 ply mat for a 16″x20″ frame with an 8″x10″ opening that I mention above. I love the oversized matting on a photograph or print, and this mat is about half the price of a custom cut mat.
I linked to online custom cut mats above; you can also find them at Michaels when you are able to shop in the store again.
For frames, here are a few simple frame profiles I have used. All of these benefit from the 8-ply mat above or another mat upgrade.
Ikea Ribba – the best value for a 16×20 frame, great for a grid gallery wall.
Target – the frames I used for our gallery wall are no longer sold in white but this is a similar profile
Michael’s – the profile on this one is a little chunkier
Sources For Travel Wall Photographs
As I mentioned already, all the pictures on our kitchen travel wall are from weekend trips and vacations we’ve taken as a family and most of them came straight out of our phones.
To print your own photos
Quick pickup (decent quality): Walgreens, CVS, Target
Larger photos (great color quality): Staples, UPS (!) – these two have large scale high quality printers
If you don’t have any great landscape pictures from places you’ve traveled to and love, considering purchasing photography.
To buy travel photographs
One of my favorite photographers on Etsy is Irene Suchocki of EyePoetry, whose work I shared before in the post Etsy Art I’m Loving Lately. Her photos are stunning and she has offerings from the beach to European cities. I love this one of New York City below.
Also check out Sparks House, beautiful downloadable travel photography by Amy Rowland,
and Victorias Stories, with gorgeous travel photography prints by Victoria Metaxas!
Just writing this post inspired me to start working on another grid of frames for our living room that I’ve been meaning to tackle. I hope you found this post useful and it gives you an idea of a home project to do during these isolated times at home.
Wishing you the best of health and a happy weekend ahead!
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