I am Queen of the Big Idea. I get them regularly and plan them out in my head before I get distracted by something shiny that makes me start planning the next Big Idea. As you can imagine, this results in endless half-started projects that are like little mines sprinkled throughout my house.

“What’s that?” my husband will ask pointing to a pile that looks like a heap of garbage.

“Oh, that’s just my stack of supplies for the mini-replica of the Eiffel Tower I want to build for Sam’s room.”

[insert eye roll and snarky retort here]

My DIY gallery wall Idea has been in the works for months now (I don’t even think it would be stretching it to say a year). I was sick of our living room set up and hating (seriously hating) this hat rack thing we had near our front door.

Here’s what the wall in question looked like:

I decided I wanted to move my husband’s beloved off-center print to the wall that the stupid hat rack was on (not pictured). The print just seemed completely lost above the love seat, don’t you think? I thought it would be way better to fill the wall with family photos and other fun little things.

So, of course, I had to collect frames for my cute little DIY gallery wall project. And what else would I do with the frames but stack them up in piles around my bedroom? I mean, really. Do you want me to forget about them???

I’ve had teetering towers of frames strategically placed around my bedroom for months at this point. I’m cheap, so I don’t want to spend money on frames all at once. But I struck gold when I finally got around to cleaning out Ellie’s closet. There were a bunch of frames we used at our wedding just sitting there collecting dust. Perfection! I went to the dollar store and picked up a few more.

So once you collect all of your supplies for your Big Idea, what the hell do you do? I usually don’t get this far.

I decided to use paper to figure out the layout I wanted for my DIY gallery wall (it sounds way fancier when you call it that). I totally saw this idea on Pinterest somewhere.

DIY gallery wallI taped paper up on the wall to see how big I wanted this thing to be. My first attempt left too much empty space (my naked helper in the bottom corner agreed).

DIY gallery wallMy second attempt made it way more substantial, which is what I was going for. My helper, however, was a little unhappy with my sloppiness.

DIY gallery wallNext (and I’m not going to lie, this was weeks later–which means the rolled up paper was just chilling behind the TV in my bedroom all that time), I laid out my frames. First I did it with empty frames so I could get a better idea of a layout I liked without being constrained by how many pictures were vertical and horizontal and what sizes they were.

Once I was settled on the layout, I started picking photos that fit what I needed. Then I laid them all out again to make sure I liked what it looked like when everything was framed and ready to go. I took a couple of pictures of it, so that I could refer to the photos when it was time to hang the frames on the wall.

When that was all set, I took a Sharpie and marked the paper where I needed nails to hang each of the frames. From there, I re-taped my paper to the wall and started putting nails where each of my little black dots were drawn. Once all the nails were in, I tore the paper down and got my trusty old camera to help me remember which frames went where. Here is the finished product:

DIY gallery wallIt’s admittedly imperfect. But, you know what? So is life. And perfectly spaced and placed photos just wouldn’t suit us.

I used a mix of frames in different colors and finishes because I wanted an eclectic look. I also added the DIY word art I made awhile back (it’s the yellow rectangle that you can’t read), a couple of Sam’s masterpieces and CD covers to albums my husband and I like.

I’m happy with how mine turned out, but if you’re a stickler for clean corners and symmetry, try drawing a square or rectangle on your paper and making sure that the edges of each of your frames is in the same spot. If you’rereally anal, you could also measure the spaces between your frames to make sure they’re all the same.

Have you ever done a DIY gallery wall like this? I want to see it! And if you have any tips, share away!

I’m linking up with A Glimpse Inside this week. Check it out for lots of other fun DIY ideas!

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.