Stairwell Gallery Makeover

Transform a mismatched photo display with paint and a fresh eye 

Words and styling Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick

Framing and hanging photos over the course of a few years can result in a fairly haphazard photo display. This stairwell photo gallery was no exception. With new photos from summer to be added it was high time for a gallery do-up.

What you will need: 

For walls: Filler to patch small holes or dents, dropcloths, sandpaper, brushes and rollers, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen paint in a colour of your choice
For templates: Newsprint, brown paper or newspaper, dark thread, a spirit level
For frames and mats: Old photo frames, Resene Enamacryl waterborne enamel in colours of your choice, hammer, nails or adhesive hanging strips, scissors, nylon thread 

Step 1 

Prepare wall I started by taking down all the photo frames and filling and sanding any holes. I painted the stairwell walls with Resene Cararra, a subtle shade of cream that immediately brightened the space. 

Step 2

Collate images A freshly painted wall allows for a new arrangement to suit the space. Consider which images and what colour frames you want to display. Previously I had mixed art and photographs together, but I now decided to hang the art elsewhere and limit the gallery to photos. Trawl through old photo files for forgotten treasures, then add in any new photos plus older ones not previously printed.

Step 3

Revamping frames The existing photo frames plus more from second-hand stores were in a wide range of colours and styles. For a coordinated result I disassembled all of the frames and painted them either in black (Resene Blackjack), a soft grey white (Resene Breathless) or an accent colour of bright yellow (Resene Wild Thing). I also painted a number of the mats in Resene Black White for a fresh new look.

Step 4

Reframing Framing multiple pictures at once allows you to best match each photo to its frame. You can also switch the size or colour of the mat. (See page 74 for more on upcycling old frames and mats.)  

Step 5

Make templates Cut a paper template of each frame. Write on each one the frame colour and a brief description. Use this to remember the frame’s orientation and to visualise each one as you decide where to hang it. Sort the templates by size. 

Step 6

Compose your gallery wall Use dark cotton thread and a spirit level to mark out the top and one side of the space in which you will hang your photo gallery. Starting in the top corner and working along the top and down the straight side, Blu-Tack the templates to the wall. Decide on the placement of the larger frames, then add in the smaller frames. Cluster similar-sized frames together and check for a balanced spread of any accent or feature frames.

Step 7

Re-hang pictures Once the  photo arrangement is finalised, hang each photo over the top of its paper template. Use the template to work out exactly where to put each nail or picture-hanging hook. Once a picture is hung, pull the paper away from behind the frame. 

Visit resene.co.nz and for more Resene makeovers with Good, click here

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