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We finished some house renovations in January of 2012, just before daughter #4 was born. Since her birth, I’ve been so busy keeping up with everyday life that I haven’t taken the time to get much back up on the walls. I’m finally trying to change that! I decided to start with our entryway since it’s the first thing anyone sees when they enter our house, and it’s also the first thing we all see when we round the corner each morning after coming down the stairs from our bedrooms. The walls used to be a pale yellow, so the painting that originally hung there looked a lot better against the yellow walls – I slapped it back up there just so there was something filling the space, but I wasn’t feeling it any more once the walls were more of a grayish tone. So down came the painting, and up went a wall gallery of canvases… I love the change!

We were lucky enough to have family pictures taken last fall in Florida by Aubri from Pink Sky Photography. She was so great to work with!! Love her! She now lives in Michigan, so if you’re in the Ann Arbor area, maybe you can look her up!  :) She captured some beautiful images, and I had been meaning to hang up some of our favorite shots – especially since these were the first nice pictures of our family since we had become a family of six.

I am a big fan of filling our home with family pictures – not only do my husband and I enjoy seeing reminders of our life together, but I think our children also (subconsciously) embody the love that’s visible in the imagery. I believe that if our kids constantly see pictures of our family enjoying life, holding hands, laughing, sharing special moments, etc., it helps them to really feel confident in that love and security. If they’re surrounded by happy images, I think it encourages them to be happy as well – and they will be more likely to feel like they have grown up in a loving home because they can actually see it all around them. Even since this wall gallery went up, my girls keep commenting on how much they like to look at the pictures each time they walk past it… so if your pictures are all “trapped” inside your computer, maybe it’s time you “free” some for display in your own home!  :)

I decided to have some of our favorite shots printed on canvases. I used Canvas on Demand for the first time, and boy, was I impressed!! Their quality is outstanding. I was even able to “like” them on Facebook to receive 50% off my entire order for that first day only – woohoo! I want to create another wall gallery in our playroom, and I will definitely go back to Canvas on Demand again when I’m organized enough to place an order. I took a lot of pictures below so I could try to show you just how nice their canvases are – I have ordered from various places over the years, and these are easily the nicest canvases I have found.

In this post, I shared with you a simple way to hang a picture or canvas by using toothpaste (of all things!) to mark your spot on the wall. This time, however, I decided to create a template on the wall first because I was hanging so many canvases, and I really wanted things to line up just right. I have seen the idea to do this on countless blogs and websites, but this is the first time I’ve tried it myself. It really was an easy way to hang everything correctly the first time! It took a little effort on the front end to create and hang the template, but it was so worth it when I went to actually hang the canvases, and it took me less than 10 minutes!

See below for all the details…

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I love this painting, but it just didn’t seem to be working after the paint in our entryway went from pale yellow to a grayish color… I also wanted something to fill the space a bit more.

So I ordered a bunch of canvases, and now we have a wall gallery that is personal, fills the space, and works with the tones of the wall and trim. Much better, in my opinion!

To begin, I sketched up a diagram before I placed my order. (Do not underestimate how long this step can take!!) At Canvas on Demand, you can order your canvases to be any size you’d like (!), so I knew I could make it work to fit our space. They also have various wall displays to help you piece different canvases together, but most options weren’t as large as I needed–for example, I knew I wanted the silhouette of our family to be enormous!  :) For me, I am drawn to symmetry, so I was looking for our gallery to be squared off around the perimeter – I wanted it to fit together like a large rectangle. So I kept messing with the dimensions until it worked out, allowing for 1″ in between each canvas.  (I fudged the middle one just a bit…)

I also decided to go with the thick gallery wrap (1.5″) to give the canvases a more solid look. Our hallway is plenty wide for the canvases to stick out a bit, and I thought the chunky style would fit our decor more. After much debate, I also ended up choosing a white wrap on the edges; you could also choose black or any custom color, or wrap the image itself around the edge. I really don’t think you can go wrong here.

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Within a week, boxes started arriving. I couldn’t believe how fast the canvases were produced, and I was surprised by how carefully everything was wrapped to ensure that it all arrived at our home in good shape.

There was more protection inside…

The smaller canvases all came with a nice saw hook attached for easy hanging.

The large one (48 x 36) had extra support built in on the backside to make sure it was solid.

The large one also had special hooks attached with hardware to go with it for easy hanging.

To create my template, I started tracing each canvas on kraft paper. (You could also use newspaper.)

*I used kraft paper because I always have it on hand (we actually don’t get the newspaper anymore because we get all our news online these days), as I mention in this post where I share every idea I could think of to help you organize your home and your life! I like to use kraft paper when wrapping gifts – I just change out the ribbon to suit the occasion. That way I can store a lot less gift wrap, and I’m ready to wrap a gift for anyone! You can also use a marker to write directly on the paper – you don’t even need a gift tag! It’s great for kids, too – they can decorate the gift or draw a picture for the recipient…

I found it easiest to flip the canvas over and draw a light pencil line all the way around the edges, being careful not to mark up the canvas itself.

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I then cut the piece to size, made sure I lined it up carefully (especially across the top), and then pressed my finger firmly along the “hanging saw” that’s attached to create an indentation.

Next I made a mark along the center of the saw hook, just a hair underneath the hook – the nail will go right into the mark so the hook will sit on top of the nail.

After I was done creating the template, I moved the canvases over to the wall where I wanted to hang them. I set them out on the floor and figured out where I wanted everything to hang (from left to right).  I kept sliding the entire display around until I thought it looked about right. I wasn’t able to center my display perfectly on the wall because I had to make room for our two light switch plates – so my gallery is set off to the right.

Okay, the alignment looks good to me now… I just need to get my template on the wall!

Here I was still trying to figure out my “system” – I found that it was easiest to have tape ready as shown so it was handy to grab as I hung up each piece. Also, at first I started taping up the template with the tape running parallel to the edges (as you can see here). But I could tell that it was going to be hard for me to see if the edges were level and an inch from the other pieces – so I quickly changed my method so that the tape was applied in the corners at an angle. This way the edges were visible to help me with my alignment.

I started by securing the top, and then I used a level to make sure it was hung properly. When I was sure that it was level, I then taped down the bottom.

Done!  It really didn’t take me as long as you might think…

You can see that I applied the tape at an angle in each corner so I could easily see that the pieces were all parallel and an inch apart.

The moment of truth! Time to start pounding some nails! I carefully placed the tip of the nail right on the mark I had made, and then I started the nail into the wall. I then pulled the paper off the wall and finished pounding in the nail.

Well, what do you know… it’s working! Everything is lining up perfectly! I’m not going to lie, I was pretty fired up as the gallery started coming together.

It’s still working!  :)

Ta-da! I was able to do the entire thing all by myself, with the exception of hanging the big canvas – my daughter had to help me hold it while I secured it to the wall. I really do love how it all came together – I just want to sit and stare at it!  :) Ah, the feeling of satisfaction after you finally get to something that’s been on your list forever!!!

THE PAINT COLOR OF OUR WALLS

Update: I have received so many emails about the paint color on our walls! I’m so glad you love it as much as we do! It’s called Waynesboro Taupe by Sherwin-Williams. I also have in my notes that it’s a color match to Benjamin Moore 1544. We had five different samples on our wall for a month until we finally settled on this one. It’s so beautiful in person!

Here’s a peek from the other side. You can see here how our new wall gallery is the first thing anyone sees when they enter our home. I like to think that the pictures seem welcoming, and I hope that our visitors feel comfortable and at home right from the start!

As for us, I know I feel happy each time I walk past this new display, and I catch my family looking at it as well. Finally, our new entryway feels complete!  :)

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I hope this post has inspired you to decorate with more photos of your family! And I hope you’re also feeling less intimidated to try to hang a gallery of pictures or canvases. With this “template” method, it really was so easy. Now I’m excited to hang more collections of pictures around our house!

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