Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Home Tour - Gallery Wall

I moved into my new house on February 11th, 2005 - which happens to be my daughter's first birthday.  For dinner we had pizza and birthday cake.  Perfect!

Nine months after moving in on November 16th, 2005 my second daughter was born.  I was determined to get the house "finished" before the second baby arrived.  The LAST project I had to do was to finish my gallery wall along the stairwell.

You see,  I fell in love with a man who lived waaaaaaayyyyyyy across the country from my family.  It was important to me to have something as a daily reminder in my house of my heritage and ancestry which had played such an important role in my life growing up.  So,  the family photo wall became my project.

It started out with a call out to all the family to get any and all pictures I could of each family member. 

Then I sorted the pictures and memorabilia and took a crash course in how to tell ancestor "A" from ancestor "B".  With my family I had a little practice but I admit, my husband's family was a little more difficult.

Then I picked which pictures I liked for the wall.  My criteria:

1.  One to two pictures of each person
2. Focus on wedding and baby pictures as a "theme"
3. Choose interesting pictures that have a story behind them

The day before I was induced with my second daughter I took all the pictures to my favorite photo shop to drop them of - so as to meet my goal of getting the project done before the baby was born (I was down to the wire on that one).  Unfortunately, I got rejected.  My framer sent me back home and asked me to put some details on the pictures as to how I wanted them cropped  and which ones I wanted names put on.

One picture of each person in the family got their name on the photo.

Here is the name plate on my grandmother's picture.  For those of you that don't know about my grandmother, you can read more about her in this post about neighboring and cooking.

Isn't she beautiful?  Here she is in her college yearbook photo.  She went to college at age 16 and played field hockey!!!  She was the first in her county to have a model A Ford and worked as a county agent in the depression.  She rocked.

Here she is in a photo with her husband Clarence Gordon Lee and my Dad.  She had her first child at 36 because they were of the depression era and wanted to be in good financial straights before children.  Also, she would have lost her job if she got married and they needed her income.

Oh - back to the wall.

I decided on a monochromatic color scheme.  I matted all the pictures in the same color mat and frame - varying the way the photos were cropped and the thickness and size of the matting.

Here is one of my favorites of my husband's family - his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.  All Eugene Francis Smiths.

When we got all the pictures back from the frame shop ( a couple of weeks after the birth) my husband went to town laying them out.  We went for a free form design up the stairs but ORGANIZED them from oldest generations at the bottom of the stairs to the youngest of us at the top of the stairs.

You can see the stairwell from my front door so this is what you see at the start of the wall....

And as you walk closer you can see the pictures that are on the stairwell above....

These pictures are quite old.  The furthest left photo is of my great-grandfather (b. 1840- d. 1917) who was in the civil war and got shot in the chin so he grew a beard.  He met his wife in a prisoner of war camp.  She was a distant cousin who came to visit him.  (Go ahead, make your jokes about the south).  

I've started making notes about the family members on the back of the pictures and hope to make a printed bio before too long!

If you want to see the landing - check out yesterday's post

There are also pictures on the right hand side wall as you go up the stairs....  These are my great grandparents through grandparents.

From below....

 And from the landing.  My grandmother is at the top left in this photo in her wedding gown...

My father's paternal grandparents are photographed below.  This is the only photo we have of them.  This is their wedding photo where she wore her best dress which is black.  It is my understanding that wearing white gowns was a pretty new custom when she got married.

Can't say it is the happiest wedding photo I have ever seen.. But I am so happy to have it.  

Last but not least is the photo wall of our parents, step-parents and special aunts and cousins....  My husband and I on our wedding day are at the top of the stairs - that's also me with the braided pigtails and my husband with the sweet stuffed dog.  You can see how they are all matted in varying sizes and shapes.   I am really happy with the way it turned out.  

Not to overlook an open space,  my sweet husband put a few cute photos below the upstairs stair rail...  I think they are great. 

So that's it - the photo wall!  Any questions let me know and I will get back to you on the details.  


  1. It's beautiful! You love pictures just as much as me! I must say...your grandmother looks EXACTLY like you!

    1. Hi Christine. thanks for commenting on my blog.. It's a fun little project for me! Shannon

  2. I love all of your photos and your gallery wall! This is an amazing way to use the space and to honor and remember your family as well. You have a beautiful home. Thanks for linking up @ the Delectable Home.