...because home doesn't happen overnight.

We’ve been working hard on the family photo wall that I mentioned here.  Well, guess what?  It’s finally done (“all done” as Everett would say) and I’m super, super, SUPER excited to share it!  Really.  This is what we had to start with… 

A nice blank canvas but pretty tall and narrow.  Not to mention it’s home to our thermostat, dining area light switch and a random outlet (seriously, why would we need an outlet here?).  After pouring over image after image of family gallery walls online, I knew I wanted to fill the wall up with white frames.  Kind of like Brangelina…”if we’re gonna do it, we might as well do it big.”  While Handy Hubby was out of town on biz, the boys and I took a little trip to IKEA.  I had the measurements of the wall written down and my nifty tape measure.  I wanted the overall outline of the gallery to be similar in shape to the rectangular wall but not so orderly that it looked contrived.  So, right there in IKEA I mapped out the dimensions of our wall and played around with frames to get an idea of which ones would work.  I’m pretty sure I got a lot of “OMG, she’s crazy!” looks, but I get that a lot and I’m used to it.

This was my loose, general layout just to figure out which frames to purchase.  Once I got home and had more precise details, I changed it up to the layout below to compensate for the thermostat, switch plate and electrical outlet.

Then came the hard part…choosing what to put in each frame.  I started a ‘family wall’ folder on the computer to help narrow down the possibilities.  I just kept deducting and deducting for days until I had a small selection to choose from.  (Much like the judges’ process of elimination on American Idol during Hollywood Week.)  I didn’t want only photos though.  I wanted to use Handy Hubby’s Valentine’s Day gift and somehow include our boys’ baby footprints. 

I put together 2 mini display cases for the baby prints.  I started with these footprints made from DIY kits available at craft stores… (we made the prints a while back when our boys were babies but haven’t ever displayed them)

I cut pieces of linen fabric to fit the smallest IKEA frames then hot-glued the prints to the linen.

I didn’t iron the linen because I wanted it to look a little worn and old.  Then I framed ’em up and cut away the excess fabric from the backs.

Voila!  Two baby footprint shadow boxes that mean the world to me.

I designated 4 frames to Handy Hubby’s Vday gift and the baby footprints then ordered the remaining frames’ photos via ePingo.  It wasn’t exactly cheap but after sorting through all of our digital pictures, I was happy to finally display some precious moments…well worth the money to me.  **When ordering photo prints make sure you choose photos that are oriented (horizontally/vertically) the way the frame will be hung on the wall AND in the correct size needed.  This can be a very tedious task but necessary.**  Once our prints arrived, I cleaned each frame and inserted the corresponding photo.  Then Handy Hubby got to work hanging each frame on the wall.  He taped off a template for a uniform border and then hung the frames within the template using a pencil, level, tape measure, drill driver, drywall anchors/screws and lots of patience. 

3 of the IKEA frames (the individual 5×7’s) I bought didn’t include hanging hardware.  Boo.  A minor setback.  I found a box of picture hanging hardware at Hobby Lobby and Handy Hubby made it work, Project Runway style.  Man, I love that guy.


After all the frames were hung, we were left with this empty space around the thermostat. 

It wasn’t a surprise.  I had a little idea for personalization.  A(nother) trip to Hobby Lobby and I found what I was looking for.

A few wooden characters and some blue tacky goo filled the spot nicely.

It says it all.  Handy Hubby was relieved and said, “So, I guess that means we’re done having kids.”  I warned him that it would be very easy to change up the “Me, U & 2” to “U, Me & 3.”  “Oh,” was his reply.  (It’s okay, Handy Hubby, I’m not ready for that.)

If you’ve made it this far into the post, you deserve a look at the finished product.

From the family room…

Some close-ups…

I am sooooo pleased with the way our family wall turned out.  It’s organized but not a sterile all-the-same-size frame layout.  It took way more planning than I thought but now that it’s finished I can’t help but stop and browse over the pics every time I pass by.  Our boys even like looking at them and since the bottom frames are low on the wall, our 2-year-old can take part in the picture gushing.  I was torn between color prints or all black-and-whites but I’m in love with the B&W.  By far, the emotions and memories that this wall conjures up is what makes it special.  And I’m so giddy to have our most meaningful family moments captured in a place for us and visitors to see.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Handy Hubby for all that you did!  Another project I couldn’t have done without you.  Literally.  No family = no family wall.

Life is good.


[…] Originally posted here: A Labor of Love: Our Family Photo Wall — House*Tweaking […]


LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! How creative and beautiful!


I am so enjoying your blog. You are so talented! You have gotten me motivated. I have been wanting to do a photo wall and now I just may do it. I love checking in each week to see what you have done. You make me feel like I am right there watching you. You are a great writer; maybe someday you can write a book. Keep up the creative ideas. Give the boys a kiss for me and tell Handy Hubby I said “Hi”. Love, Aunt Janice
PS: By the way, the secondhand dresser you got from your Dad was actually Bucky’s Mom’s years ago. There were three bases and three toppers for them with shelfs. She gave them to Bucky’s Grandma in the 70’s and your Mom bought them from her years ago. I will try and find out how old they are. I’m sure Phyllis will remember. Love you!


Aunt Janice – Dad mentioned he thought the dresser may have been from Bucky’s family. Dad still has the topper that goes to the dresser…I couldn’t think of anything to do with it. The other two are in Rihana’s old bedroom at Dad’s house. Glad to know the history behind it! Miss you too!


the wall turned out great Dana!


I found your blog! You are so creative! I am now hooked on the blog, this wall is amazing. Do you have a list of the sizes of frames you bought?? That would be very helpful… :) I have 2 girls and I would love to do their handprints even though they arent babies they are 3 and 6.


Liz – So glad you like the family photo wall! The IKEA RIBBA frame sizes are as follows from top of the wall to bottom: (top row) three 10″x10″ (second row) two 13″x16.5″ and two 6.5″x6.5″ (third row around the thermostat) three 6.5″x6.5″ and one 16.5″x20.5″ (fourth row) one 20.5″x10″ – it holds three photos – and one 10″x10″ (bottom row) three 12″x9.5″ NOTE-ALL THESE SIZES ARE APPROXIMATE AND ARE THE OUTER FRAME SIZE…sizes of the actual photos/prints depend on the matting. Hope that helps you out!

[…] you walk back further, our family photo wall is to your right.  (The white door leads to our unfinished […]


Hi Dana,
I just recently found your site and have been going through some of your archived posts. Why did you decide to center the top three frames as opposed to space them out and keep with the overall rectangular shape?


Lisa – I actually thought about spacing them out to the edge of the other perimeter frames, but it looked ‘off’ to me. I guess because they are smaller frames? When they had larger spacing in between, they looked really disconnected. I chose to center them up with just a little gap between them to top off the family wall. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. That’s just what I chose to do.


It never occurred to me to buy the frames to fit the space first – really simple, great idea.


I love love love this idea and want to repeat it in my house. I have 4 kids and I cant think of a clever simple way to put letters on the wall like you did me u & 2, any ideas?


You can change this to “Me u & 3 soon! I assume you will recreate a wall like this in your new house. Congrats xx


Love this, thank you for sharing. i’ve done a family wall in our living room which is a towhome on the main wall so our couch faces it. I didnt lay out the pics i wanted up on the wall first like you did, instead just bravely starting hanging them up. ive got two black and white close ups for our sons- age 1 and 3 at the time in black and white, in big 8×14 i think, and then others of the birth of our first son and him, in a gold frame smaller— my point is its all b/w. i love your white frame idea, it really adds a punch, i liked your idea of using the Me and U etc.. and the footprint frames, i’m hoping my five year olds feet are not too big for this, i want to do the same thing for my wall-beautiful!


I love your gallery wall! I was just wondering how you executed the pregnacny picture. The one with you little one kissing your belly. I would love to recreate it but Im not camera savy. Would you kindly give me some tips?


I took it late in the afternoon when the sun was starting to set on a sunny winter’s day. I found a blank wall to cast my long shadow against, lifted my shirt over my belly {to get the full-on belly protrusion!} and had Layne kiss my belly while I took a pic. I used a little point-and-click camera and held it within the frame of my body so it wouldn’t show in the shadow. Play around with it and have fun! This was a very unplanned, casual pic that takes me back :)

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