Every house should have a black and white photo wall, it tells the story of who lives there. My b&w photo wall receives the most compliments out of any other gallery wall in my home. It’s the second home I’ve done it in, and it’s always near the main entrance where people are putting on their coats or waiting for something and admiring the wall simultaneously.
The photos include images I photographed and developed in the darkroom of my family members when I was in school, images of my parents and in-laws when b&w was the only option, some of my favourite wedding shots and pictures of my girls printed in b&w, as well as their first ever photographs, their ultra-sounds. All the images in this hallway are portraits of some sort, which is probably why the wall is so intriguing for visitors.
I decided to display all my b&w photos in this area when I realized I had a lot of them throughout the house. Therefore I already owned most of the frames I used on this wall, and only purchased a few additional ones from Ikea and Homesense to complete it. In this hallway, we painted the powder room door black and installed some black cage lights, which helps to reinforce the black and white theme in this section of our home. The wall itself is actually a shade of light grey, which allows the black frames and white mattes to really pop.
I decided to put smaller images at eye level and larger images or frames with large mattes at higher and lower spots. There are a lot of different ways you can go about organizing the frames. I found that what worked for me was creating small groupings of frames, then aligning them with at least one other frame in another grouping and piecing them all together like a puzzle. I repeated certain frames, as well as similar images so that the wall wouldn’t look too busy. Repetition of imagery, frame size, shape and orientation allows the eye to maneuver more easily from image to image. The frames begin at the top of wall, but I opted not to take them to the very bottom, since bending down to look at them would be awkward compared to lifting your head to look up… although I can’t promise that I won’t fill up the entire wall one day.
Now, I’ll be honest, with two very active kids under 4 in the house, keeping the frames straight is a pain, since they run in to wall on a daily basis. A solution to this problem is to strategically place Blue-Tak behind the frames to help them stay in place.
Since this gallery wall is located in a hallway, I chose to continue the theme of black and white photography on the other two walls in this space, but with different frame styles. Hallways are perfect for housing any collections of photos or art you may have, since they evoke the feeling of a gallery and allow viewers to walk “up and down” the space to admire the images.
On the wall facing the powder room door I used square frames featuring images of my sister flipping her hair. I photographed and developed these images in the darkroom when I was a student. Yes, I printed them in a b&w square format and actually burned a black frame around them… I think I may have predicted Instagram. I own more of these frames, but opted to only use 9 of them because of the size of the wall.
For the narrow wall on the other side of the black door, I used two of my favourite wedding images in ornate white frames to change it up a bit. I also used a larger version of this frame about 5 feet away in the living room space. These frames were purchased from Urban Barn. The images are not the traditional wedding photos people usually display, but I think they sum us up as individuals and as a couple perfectly, I’m kind of a mess, he’s very put together. Thank god he’s around to hang my photos for me.
So, somehow the b&w photo wall grew into 3 nearby walls. There is simply nothing more classic than black and white, it will never go out of style. If you are thinking of creating your own b&w photo wall, do it! It’s a streamline way of displaying family photos without overwhelming the senses and unifying otherwise distinctly different imagery.