Gallery Wall + Photo Mat Lettering + $5 Wall Art

Gallery Wall Photo Mat Lettering DIY

A well-designed gallery wall is so pretty to look at in our homes, aren't they? We all have a boatload of photos that we love of our families. Months ago, each night as I lay in bed at our old house before closing on our new home I'd mentally plan what my projects were going to be for designing gallery walls for our new home. 

Tips for Designing Gallery Walls | | Home Decor | Wall Decor | Lettering for Home | DIY | Free Download | Design.jpg

tips for designing a gallery wall

1. Choose the wall or walls you'll be using for your gallery wall

I had already decided on two different walls in our new home to serve as a terrific canvas for a gallery of family photos. While these aren't the only places I've chosen to display family photos they will be the where the bulk of them live.

2. Decide on the photos you'll be displaying on your gallery wall

For example one of my gallery walls is the wall in a small opening before entering our master bedroom that is visible from our living room. Our guest coat closet is there too, so there is a chance that guests will at least be going this far. This is a great spot for pictures of just my husband and me. We've made a tradition since our first anniversary to take a photo of ourselves. Every photo on this wall was taken on September 24th with the exception of a couple that were taken on our honeymoon. 

3. Frame photos and prepare frames for the gallery wall

Now's the time to get those frames to have a cohesive look. While I don't recommend that they are all the exact type of frame they should all be the same in one way or another... same color or finish same size or shape. This allows your photos to take center stage and not the frames. I chose to use white chalk paint and then distress mine. Most of my frames were very dark and I was ready to lighten things up. They look terrific against our gray walls. Before assembling your photos into the frames just yet you might consider adding a little lettering.

4. How to add lettering to a photo mat

I've wanted to add lettering to our family wedding photo now for quite a number of years, but have just never taken the time to do so. This was the perfect time since I had it apart repainting the frame. I've shared with you before the process I use in choosing what font for any lettering project I'm doing, and it's quite simple really. I already know ahead of time what kind of look I'm going for. A script or serif or sans serif so that eliminates a lot right there.

Steps to add lettering to a photo mat

  • I just open Pages on my Mac or you can use Word on your PC. I begin by typing the text that I'm wanting. From there I just keep copying and pasting and changing the font so I can see them side-by-side and decide which one gives me the look and feel I'm going for.

  • Print out your text the size needed for the area of the mat you're adding lettering to. It helps to flip the lettering bacwards so that when it's printed out you can flip the paper where the print is down and can be transferred easier to the mat. (1)

  • Using a pencil shade the backside of the paper (the side that will lay against the mat) behind the lettering. (2, 3)

  • Place the print out pencil shaded side down carefully placing where lettering will end up on your mat. This will require a little measuring if you've had to piece together your wording that had to be printed on more than one sheet of paper. (4, 8)

  • Trace carefully over each letter pressing enough to transfer the pencil shaded area on the back onto the mat. I used this method for the first photo mat. For the second I used a slightly wet paint brush (dipped in a water and dabbed onto paper towel) and traced over each letter. (7, 9, 10)

  • Remove the printout and take a lettering pen (like the one below) and carefully fill in the penciled text on the mat. Viola - done. For the first mat I used a thin felt marker and the second a MICRON pen. These are my absolute favorite for lettering. They dry immediately without smudging. (5, 11, 12, 13)

  • Bonus tip: I use a magnifying glass when tracing my back over my pencil transfer to be sure I'm getting things just right. Also, go slow and don't use continuous strokes. Picking up your pen actually saves you from shaking and making more mistakes. As you can see in the finished results. (6, 15)

Fonts used for the first photo mat lettering was Botdoh and the second one is Saturday Rock.


5. Plan your photo arrangement for your gallery wall

Once all the photos are in picture frames and they've all received a cohesive look with any lettering added, you're ready to plan the arrangement of your gallery wall. I begin by laying them out on the floor keeping in mind the size of the wall I'm using. Once I'm satisfied with the layout I grab some brown paper bags, packing material that I've saved from all those Amazon boxes or even newspaper works. I then trace each frame onto the paper and cut them out making sure to mark an arrow so I don't forget the orientation of that particular photo frame (1, 2 below). I also mark exactly where the hanging mount is - believe me you'll be so glad you didn't skip this step!

5. Place Photo Frame Patterns on Your Gallery Wall

I use painters tape and place my frame patterns on the wall in the arrangement I want them. From there, my husband brings in all his tools for hanging things for me and together we make art happen. :) Both our gallery walls have room for growth. In fact, I planned our "anniversary gallery wall" with that in mind.

Here's a bonus project I'd love to share with you! The best place to find frames are thrift stores, garage sales and goodwill. I found the frames in the photo below at a garage sale for two bucks each. I changed out the dated art and designed my own and printed out on card stock. I like the finish and condition of the frames so I just kept them as is and viola I have terrific art pieces for under five bucks! I knew I wanted my art to say "Love God. Love People." I also wanted a green/blue color because that's my accent color. The font I chose is called handwriting draft. I was going for a drafting look because I want it to feel like the viewer is looking at an architecture's drawing and the drawing of a plan. God's plan for our lives. 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Gallery Wall  Free download Love God Love People.JPG

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