A big part of work-life balance, to me, is taking the time to take care of your living space. N and I recently embarked on several small projects to reenergize our apartment and play up more of a beach theme, since that’s where we live. We added some new shelves, new decoration and tried to get rid of stuff we’ve accumulated over the past 3 years that we don’t really need. And it has made a big difference in how comfortable (and pretty) our space is.
One thing I’ve wanted to do for a while is put up a Gallery Wall. In fact, it’s been over 6 months that the project has been on my mind. The main reason I kept putting it off was the time it would require to wade through all the photographs on my home computer (more than 30,000!) and choose the right ones.
But after a recent trip to the San Diego Comic Con in mid-July, where I came across and bought some beautiful art by Pascal Campion, I was inspired to really give it a go. And one quote kept popping up in my mind:
..one of Gretchen Rubin’s “Secrets of Adulthood” from her book, The Happiness Project. (See my previous post about this book, one of my all-time favorites, which I highly recommend! And her second book: Happier at Home).
This idea is also one of Sheryl Sandberg’s favorite mottos, which always comes to my mind when I’m putting something off because of the excuse of not having enough time:
“Done is better than perfect.”
Sandberg writes in Lean In: “I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.”
So, I gave myself 2 evenings to select some photographs. I reminded myself that I could change them at any time. They didn’t have to be the best, most absolutely perfect pictures for my perfect Gallery Wall. They just had to be beautiful photographs I’d enjoy looking at every day and would, within the set of the gallery, bring me joy every evening when I walked into the house. After narrowing it down to about 50 images, I then got real about what image would work in what frame, and how they work together.
After months of putting it off because “I didn’t have enough time,” it was done in around 4 and a half hours spread across 3 evenings. I finally put it up, entirely on my own from start to finish and learned a big lesson about just doing it.
Here are the 5 simple steps that I followed:
1. Collect a variety of frames. They should definitely be of different sizes, some average 4×6 or 5×7, at least one tiny and one huge, to have a variety in the display. To be honest, I did this gradually over a year, but it can also be done with a more concerted effort over a couple of weeks. You don’t have to spend a lot. Pottery Barn (my brown frames) always seems to have sales on their frame collection. Aaron Brothers has many affordable options (the white frames), and there is always IKEA.
2. Choose images to frame, preferably a combination of art, prints and photographs. I loved the ideas of using my own photos since photography is one of my hobbies. But if you prefer to purchase professional ones, that works too. There are also several great websites like Unsplash and Picjumbo where you can download some beautiful high resolution photographs for free.
3. Map out the layout of your wall using parchment or boarding paper (I got a big roll with plenty leftover for 4$ from Home Depot) and blue wall-safe Painter’s Tape. Pottery Barn has a small manual on creating Gallery Walls that I had saved in January when the idea of putting one up first game to mind. They suggest that instead of trying to imagine it, you can use parchment paper to put up the frames and…
4. Print your images cheaply, either at a home printer or somewhere like Staples, as I did. Put them up on your parchment paper frames and play around with the different colors to choose your final selection.
5. Hammer in those nails and get the frames up. Once you’re happy with how the images look, you can print them out properly.
The next step for me is going to be finding a couple of non-frame objects to add. I’m hoping I’ll come across great pieces during travels in the next three of months– and a few new photographs or prints too. The best part is: once it’s up, you can play with changing images around every few months. (More on this soon.)
Every time I look at my new Gallery Wall I smile, and it was well worth the wait and effort. So, what are you waiting for? Make this your project for one week, using your evenings after work for this fun effort to brighten up your space.