//Gallery Wall / DIY + Tips + Walk-through

Hey, gang! As if I didn't have enough going on (studying for the bar exam, planning a wedding, just generally living life...), I decided to do a gallery wall. Even though The Boy and I are planning on moving soon (depending entirely on where I get a job), I am kind of sick of walking past this hallway near the entrance and being bummed out at how expansive and boring it is. Enter: Pinterest! I looked up some inspiration and decided to go ahead with a few of these projects. I chose them based on 1) how much I was attracted to them aesthetically and 2) how easy and cheap they were to accomplish. Time is money, folks. And...money is...well, money. So this is the final result!

//I know the photo looks weird, but a panoramic shot was the only kind that would fit everything//
I made things simpler by sticking to a common color scheme: mint, corals/peaches/pinks, white, and gold. All the frames are white, either by purchase or by painting.

The print that looks like a succulent and the chevron print are both purchased from Hobby Lobby (at 50% off,  no less!). The watercolor Illinois "home" print was also purchased, but this one is from Lavender & Lace (and I scored it with a coupon code they posted on their Instagram account) and I LOVE that you can customize the colors to fit your decor! I definitely recommend checking out their website because I am sure you will find something you love!

The white-on-white "here's looking at you, kid" art was super simple! The hardest part was determining which phrase/word to use. The Boy and I finally got around to watching "Casablanca," which is one of his favorite films and which I have never seen but always wanted to! The experience was really sweet, tender, and special to me and I knew that this famous quote from the film was perfect for our home. It wasn't too long a phrase and it means something to us--awesome combo! I purchased a pack of small wooden letters from the craft store and glued them onto a canvas using a hot glue gun. I highly recommend determining the placement before gluing them down to determine the final layout.

The 8"x10" canvas is from a 10-pack I purchased before this past Christmas (when I used them to make Christmas gifts for my friends) and I got it at Michaels using a coupon. After gluing on the letters, I spray-painted the whole thing white, using a couple of coats, and allowed it to dry. The total cost for this project is approximately $8.50, after using 40% coupons on the canvas pack and the wooden letters (though for me it was a little less because I already had most of the supplies on hand).

This abstract painting was another very simple--and therapeutic--project. You can search on Pinterest for similar projects, like this one. I used less white space than the particular project I linked to, but that's entirely dependent on your personal taste. Don't believe me that it's easy? Here's what I did: first, I chose my colors. I used this acrylic paint set which is amazing and comes out to less than a buck per paint tube! It's a perfect option if you want a ton of colors at your disposal and you'd really only need to supplement it with bigger tubes/bottles of white and/or black, if you really had to. But honestly, you could use the cheapie acrylic paint you can find at almost any store and you'd be fine. I could go on and on about how much I prefer and love working with acrylic paint by virtue of its quick drying time and budget-friendly prices (I know Michael's often does a promotion on their lower end acrylic paint where you would end up paying about 50 cents or less per bottle), but I'll spare you that for now.

I stuck with my color scheme, mixing some oranges, reds, and greens with white to get more muted tones. I then basically randomly applied the colors to the canvas, leaving very little white space. There was no real rhyme or reason to the application of the colors. I started with the green shades and placed them randomly on the canvas and then added other colors in the in-between spaces. Where two colors met, I blended and blended to get the colors to mix and "blur" together and essentially continued doing that until I was satisfied.

I then applied a few coats of gesso (diluted with some water) over the entire canvas, basically covering up most of the work I did (sounds kind of crazy in hindsight, but trust me...it will all make sense). I wanted a softer look, reminiscent of watercolor, so the wash of diluted gesso was a very good way of achieving that. I then applied gold leaf that I had from other projects by applying a "puddle" of adhesive size and tilting the canvas vertically so the size dripped down. After the size got tacky, I applied my gold leaf, using both whole sheets and "flake" remnants I saved from other projects. The final look is exactly what I was going for! Thanks, Pinterest!

Here is another project that is not only very budget-friendly but easy. That's kind of the name of the game, folks. I used this Pin as inspiration, but honestly it's sooooo simple that anyone with opposable thumbs and a circle punch could do this. I got paint chips from my local home improvement store, choosing about 5 or 6 for each color I wanted. Depending on the size of each color section, you may need more or less. I got two circles punched out from each chip, so getting five per color was perfect. I definitely recommend grabbing some paint chips in a neutral color like white, tan, or black, along with whatever color(s) you ultimately decide to go with. This is in case you need something to break up the colors and to add visual interest. In my end result, I cropped out the white shades that I selected, so that was kind of a waste--but hey! No harm, no foul.

//I made a general arrangement of the order of the colors as a guide//
I sat and punched all the circles in about five minutes. Super simple. I then glued down overlapping circles, using one color per column, onto a piece of white cardstock. I honestly wasn't particularly careful about how evenly spaced everything was or how straight the rows were. Including the time to punch the circles, this entire project took probably 15 minutes. I like that!

//this is the arrangement before I cropped it to fit my frame and mat//
The beautiful thing about this project is that if you don't have a circle punch but want to get one, Michaels may have them on sale or you can find a 40% off coupon online. I use this circle punch SO much, for various projects, that I would definitely recommend getting one. Or hey, borrow one from a friend!

I trimmed down the piece to fit into the frame, carefully selecting which portion I wanted to show with the addition of the mat, and am in love with the result. This project's cost honestly depends on how much you want to spend on a frame (again, I picked mine up on sale at the craft store. WOOHOO!). You don't have to use a mat, but I really think it gives it a wonderful finishing touch and for the extra two bucks, totally worth it. I spent a total of $12.00 on this project because I decided to go with a fancier frame, but you could definitely stay around $5.00 if you scored a frame you like at the dollar store. I mean, the paint chips are FREEEEEE!

I fell in love with this project as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. Our wedding cake is going to look like birch tree logs and there is something so romantic about birch trees, so this art is just fan-freaking-tastic. I used these instructions, so I won't go into too much detail about it because the original post is so clear and concise. I primed the canvas with white spray paint and masked off the area with some cello-tape (I didn't have painter's tape) and painted the background a light green (though it looks kind of blue in this photo). This art was a great opportunity to use the gold leaf I had and I think the personalization is just the sweetest! The total cost for this was approximately $2.50 because the canvas from a two-pack (that I got on saaaale!) and I already had the gold leaf and black paint.

This final thing I made was this cacti watercolor. I had an empty space on the wall that I needed to fill and whipped this up literally five minutes before Josh got home. You simple make round shapes with watercolor, stacking some and adding "appendages" to others. The trick to this is to use a lot of water on your brush so that the colors flow easily into one another, and also use a variety of shades. For example, I used about six different shades of green for the cacti, though not necessarily in the same "circle." The brown pots also use about three to four shades and I added those to create some weight to the bottom of the watercolor, though that is totally personal preference. Wait for the entire thing to dry before hanging or you will get a lot of drip action (unless that's what you're going for). Watercolor is a wonderful medium because it is so forgivable. If you make a mistake, wet your brush and go over it to fix it. I got a brown streak across a portion of the canvas and I simply wet that area with my brush and dabbed with a paper towel to "erase" it!

//this print is 16"x20" and matches the canvas size perfectly, resulting in a "cleaner" look//

//this print is 12"x18" and smaller than canvas, causing me to have to find a way to make up for all the extra space//

The final thing I did were these two faux photo canvases. If you search Pinterest, you can find many, many tutorials on this project, so I won't bother going over it again. The instructions I used were from this blog, though the only change I would recommend it to paint the black border/edges before you add your photo print and not after. This will help prevent any messes. Then you can go over the edge of your print when you've added the photo (but before you add your top layer of Mod Podge).

The first photo canvas turned out better, in my opinion, because the print was the same size as the canvas. The second photo canvas was bumped up a notch by adding gold leaf around the edge of the print. I did this mainly to disguise the border of the print, but I also really like the addition of gold since there are gold touches elsewhere on the gallery wall (and can you believe that Josh came up with this idea?! Kudos to him!). The photo at the beginning of this post has the canvas before I added the gold leaf, and I think it further shows what a good idea it was to make that change. It helps to break up all that black space around the photo while adding visual interest!

My biggest tip for this project is to use a fairly thin layer of Mod Podge on top if you're planning to "stamp" with a blank canvas to recreate the canvas texture. If you use too much Mod Podge, you get a mess and it ends up being more work for you. That's the mistake I madeo. Also, make sure the canvas you're stamping with is CLEAN because any mess will transfer and become encased in the Mod Podge when it dries.

And in case you're wondering how to go about putting a gallery wall together in the first place, here are the two best ways I can think of. One, you can use kraft paper/freezer paper/whatever else you have to trace your frame and mark on that where your nail/hanger would go. Then you cut out the paper, tape it to the wall, and nail directly through the paper. Pull the paper away and BAM! you have the exact places to hang our art! Here are instructions to what I'm talking about--I've personally done this method several times and it works like a charm!

Option two is what I used this time around. I used these picture hanging strips by 3M and it is the easiest method you will ever use. The trick is to follow the directions exactly and when in doubt, use one more strip than you think you'll need. Given that The Boy and I don't plan on making this our forever home, this option was ideal because I don't have to put any holes in the wall! I have used these strips in an art corner we currently have, and it's still going strong! Given that even when I follow the adage of "measure twice, cut one" and still manage to mess up, this method is absolutely perfect. I can't recommend these strips enough (and no, I'm not sponsored by 3M. As if I'm that cool...).

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