Easily hang an organized photo gallery with The PerfectPicturewall

While at Michaels a few weeks ago, I discovered they have a “Hang Your Own Gallery” picture frame system. You buy a template (about $4) and pick frames to work with the template (a couple hundred dollars or more, based on the frames you choose) to create the gallery. Each of the frames has a letter on it and you coordinate different letters to the template to design your gallery. After 15 minutes in the store staring at the templates and frames, trying to plan out my wall, and hunting for frames in good shape, I was frustrated and left.

I headed home with the idea that I was going to map out exactly what I wanted and then go back another day to Michaels. When I sat down behind my computer, though, I looked for an even easier gallery system instead of trying to navigate the one I had seen in the store.

Sure enough, I found one. The PerfectPicturewall came with numerous templates, levels for the templates, removable mounting squares to stick the template to the wall, thumbtacks for marking where to place the picture hangers, picture hangers, solid wood frames with matting (with 1″ or 2″ borders), and an option of wood frames in different finishes. I contacted the company and a few days later a sample arrived in the snowfence finish (also available in white, black, natural, and silver).

The system is shipped in a box that looks like it might contain a large MacBook Pro. This, obviously, set well with me. Everything was well packed, none of the product was damaged, and there wasn’t any space wasted in the product packaging.

My husband and I picked a template (all templates are included), hung it up, and made sure it was level in less than 10 minutes. I should also add that during these steps we didn’t raise our voices a single time with each other, which is very strong sign that the process wasn’t frustrating. We ended up using some painters tape in addition to the mounting squares because two of us were working and I had the tape and my husband had the squares.

While my husband marked where to hang the picture hangers, removed the template from the wall, and hammered in the hangers, I removed the protective film from the plexiglass on all the frames and inserted all the pictures. This step took us about 10 minutes, and hanging the pictures on the wall took less than 5 minutes.

We are very happy with the appearance of the finished product, and the process was unbelievably simple for us to navigate. The straight lines and perfect alignment also make me very happy. The PerfectPicturewall is $300 to $350 based on which frame finish you choose, which is a little more than some of the Michaels options, but the frames are solid wood (many of the Michaels frames are plastic), align more exactly, and certainly have a less frustrating planning process. Additionally, we will be able to use/reuse the templates, levels, and everything except for the picture hangers if we move again.

Additional notes:

  • It was $28 for us to have all of the pictures printed at our local photography shop. If you already have images that work with all the frames, you won’t need this step.
  • The product packaging says all you’ll need is a hammer to assemble the gallery, but you’ll also need something to keep the photos from moving inside the frames. I used scrapbooking tape to attach the images to the mats. You could also attach your images to the sample image paper inside each frame using double-sided photo tape.
  • Since the frames are hung in a high-traffic area of our home, we put adhesive rubber pads on the back of the bottom corners on each frame to make them stay in place even better than with just the self-leveling picture hangers.

33 Comments for “Easily hang an organized photo gallery with The PerfectPicturewall”

  1. posted by Vanessa on

    Hi, I was wondering why you needed a system to help you with this. I know this may sound naive, but couldn’t you have pencilled this into place on your own without spending $300 on it? Or is it the frames?

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Vanessa — The cost is for the frames. They’re pretty much the same price at Michaels if you get wood ones of similar quality. The template is just to make it super easy to hang, without any need for rulers or any stress. Why its sold as a system is so all of the frames match and work together in a nice arrangement.

  3. posted by y on

    all you need to do is ensure each frame is aligned to at least another frame on one of the edges

  4. posted by Vanessa on

    Ah, I thought so. I guess I have no feeling for how much frames cost since we have so many lying around at home (there’s no more room!)

  5. posted by Sarah on

    Thank you for posting this! I have done galley walls myself, and let me tell you, they are a pain! This looks so much cleaner and easy (ie: no squabbles between me and my husband, as you eluded to).

  6. posted by CM on

    There are several services like this out there — I was just looking at http://www.collagewall.com, which prints the pictures for you and costs a little less. The pictures aren’t framed — they mount them and send them to you.

  7. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    Beautiful, uncluttered design. I wasn’t expecting it to look as nice when I saw the paper template, but the finished product is lovely and fits the space perfectly. The value of the package is in having the entire process mapped out and sent to you, along with quality, matching frames. The time you would have spent to do the planning and find all the right frames for the space is worth money, too.

  8. posted by Sky on

    How nice to see a picture of your little boy! Thank you

  9. posted by Geek Fun on

    Thanks Erin – this is a great help. We have tried to do the picture walls in the past and it was always so frustrating.

    The layout wasn’t the issue so much as the varying ways the picture frames were hung. Some had the little metal strip across the top, others used wire and some of those were inconsistent – very annoying!

  10. posted by Jen on

    I agree that this is a really great, convenient product. It’s extremely frustrating to try to hang a gallery style of family-type photos and get them all to align properly. We actually bought a piece of art that came in five separate panels that had to be hung separately, but align exactly, with exact spacing between each panel – it took a pretty long time to do and was very frustrating. Worth it in the end because it’s an original piece of art that we love, but it’s frustrating to do – and would be even more so with, say, 8-10 photo frames.

  11. posted by Anita on

    This is a fantastic system, especially if you are looking for a setup that allows you to switch photos out as you see fit. Amazing for family snapshots, family portraits, vacation photos etc.

    For art prints and other artwork, however, I’d recommend custom framing. It can get expensive, but it can also make a big difference.

    @Jen – if you bought your artwork from a gallery, did they not offer to hang it for you? In my experience most galleries will offer that service, and it’s completely worth it; not only does it save you the work, but they check for best placement, lighting etc, to make sure your artwork will be at its best for as long as possible.

  12. posted by Doug on

    This is extremely expensive. The frames are also completely uniform and drab, which makes gives the impression that the hanger is the same. Also, the templates are set up so that the frames are laid out in a grid, This setup would look so much better if the frames were ‘off’ a little bit, creating a unique, and pieced together look.

    This can only be done with patience, a pencil, and a ruler. Ohh…and a little creativity to boot.

  13. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I think this looks really nice — I like the griddiness of it. The price is actually not bad; quality frames and mats are not cheap, and it is a *massive* PITA to try to do this by hand. I helped a friend once, and it took hours and hours to hang just seven or so pictures because the hangers were all in different places on the frames. Anything that makes this easier is a winner in my book.

  14. posted by kelly on

    Erin, thanks for sharing this. I would love to set something up like this in my apartment and while I think I could piece it together for less money I think the stress-less factor is maybe worth it. Do you happen to know what size pictures fit in these frames. I can see that it’s an assortment, is it 5X7, 4×6? I’d love to know what the larger and panoramic sizes are.

  15. posted by Nihara on


    Thanks so much for sharing this project! I was just researching the Perfect picturewall last week, and was nervous to buy it online, sight unseen. There weren’t any reviews on Amazon (which is usually the seal of approval I need to buy things I have never heard of before on the internet). My plan B was to go with the frames on Pottery Barn, but the templates were far too limited.

    Now if only I could find the time to order my photographs online (empty picture frames just aren’t that interesting . . .)!


  16. posted by momoboys on

    Looks great, great, great!

  17. posted by Jen on

    This looks very nice and professional. I’ve been wanting to do a gallery wall on my stairway for a long time. It looks like yours may be in your stairwell? If so, how did you get the frames that high up? Did you use a special ladder for stairs?

  18. posted by Meghan on

    This is such a neat idea! Another way that’s easy to install is a picture rail and cable system — fewer nail holes in the wall, and you barely notice the cables.

  19. posted by Erin on

    As someone who researched these systems thoroughly myself last year I settled on the Michaels gallery system and it was excellent! I selected the black frames and they look sharp…we’ve gotten many compliments. I happened to have more of a certain size photo than the standard template but it was also so simple to “edit” the template for total flexibility by photocopying one of the shapes that I wanted more of and taping it in place over another shape. I am not handy…so trust me when I say this was easy.

  20. posted by Pammyfay on

    Doug: I see your points. I do like a little variety on my gallery walls (2 in different parts of the house) — some frames level with each other, others not (so there are not big “gutters” from top to bottom or side to side).

    But I think this product, for some people, is the only way to actually get photos up on the wall. Costly, but worth it.

    My way: The brown-paper template way, and with a lot of planning, arranging, rearranging, measuring spaces between frames, measuring where the hanging apparatus is on the back of the frames (and finding that mass-made frames aren’t always the same in that respect), take a drink, repeat. A lot of time some people don’t have.

  21. posted by April on

    This is great if you want all the frames to match exactly. But if you don’t (some like a variety of styles, just all in the same color) or you already have frames, then this picture hanging tool is helpful: http://www.utrdecorating.com/index.php

  22. posted by Henry C Drake on

    This is one GREAT idea! Thanks! Just moved into my new Northwoods Apartments. This will be on the top of my list.

  23. posted by Shalin on

    Want – probably makes a simple and thoughtful housewarming gift too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. posted by Jen on

    @Anita – we didn’t buy from a gallery, we bought it from someone on Etsy. It wasn’t particularly expensive or anything, maybe $250 or so. So, alas, no fancy hanging service came with it ๐Ÿ™‚ We did get a really beautiful, original piece and stayed within our small budget though.

  25. posted by Pammyfay on

    That frame-hanging tool suggested a few posts higher is a piece-o-cr&p. Don’t waste your money if you want to hang anything that’s 8×10 or up. The tool is such cheap plastic, and you certainly cannot use it by yourself — you need at least 2 more hands to make sure the frame itself doesn’t fall off the holders on the front.

  26. posted by deb on

    I hung a similar arrangement in our open stairway last year. I used photographs that I took and bought the frames at JoAnns, Michaels and Target. it cost about $125 for everything. My frames are not all the same, I need a bit of variety. For the planning stage I made templates out of kraft paper and re-arranged them until I liked it. It looks very nice, and very professional.

  27. posted by Laundromat Business on

    This does look like a cool idea. Yes, as someone else mentioned above the cost is primarily for the frames. But also think of the time your are saving by just using an existing system.

    Now if you save the instructions and the box, you could even take everything with you when you move (if it is upcoming).

  28. posted by Chrystal on

    I love the look of this. ๐Ÿ™‚ One day I hope to make a cool collection like this one my walls.

  29. posted by jjb on

    I like the idea of it, but I think it would look much better (and less sterile) if done with various different frames, as opposed to all the same frame system.

  30. posted by Max Albright on

    Erin, I must confess to being concerned by the lack of objectivity of this piece… The way it is presented it sounds as if you were looking for a picture system but then decided to contact a company and use your blog to persuade them to send you a free sample. Essentially using using us, your readers, for cheap advertising.

    I understand that many blogs are now businesses but I object to reviews that are pitched in this way – sorry.

    Other blogs include a disclaimer somewhere stating that they received a free product on the basis that you would do a review. Some list that they were paid to do the review. Unless you do this, how can we know for sure that the review is genuine? Playing devil’s advocate, do those companies that don’t send freebies end up in ‘unitasker’ or ‘this product is no good’ type posts?

  31. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Max — Thankfully, not a single unitasker we’ve featured has ever been sent to me by the manufacturer. Ugh! Can you imagine having an entire home filled with unitaskers or the time wasted having to get rid of all of those things?!! I think we’ve had more than 200 unitaskers on the site at this point. Yowza!

    We’re pretty straightforward in all of our posts about if we purchased products (“I paid X for X”), if we simply saw it in the store without trying it (“I saw”), or if the company sent us a review/sample unit (“a sample arrived”). Most of the things we buy or simply see, but some things are sent to us upon request or as promotional items without us requesting them (books especially, publishers are always sending me books). We ask ourselves, “will this benefit a good portion of our readership to help make their lives less cluttered or more organized?” If the answer is “yes,” we’ll write up a review.

    We do not usually run negative reviews of products on the site (Unitasker Wednesday columns aren’t reviews, they’re humor). The iPad is the only negative review I can remember running since becoming editor. If we don’t like a product, we don’t waste your time by writing about it. (Why should we clutter up your online reading?) I’m of the opinion that all news is good news — which is evidence in the fact that many unitaskers sell in great numbers after we talk about them in our humor column. We’ve had three manufacturers call and thank us for featuring them (sales skyrocketed, they claimed), and one manufacturer REQUEST that we feature them (we didn’t … their product was a multitasker).

    I have a Dyson Air Multiplier sitting in my son’s bedroom. Dyson sent it to me before units were available for sale. The unit doesn’t stop oscillating unless you unplug it. I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to pay $300 for a fan, it should at least stop oscillating when you turn it off. So, my son got a free fan and I didn’t even mention it on here because it’s not something I recommend to our readers. Dyson didn’t want the fan back, but we send back a lot of products because the review/sample units aren’t ours to keep.

    Book reviewers at newspapers don’t pay for copies of books they review. Movie reviewers don’t pay to see movies. Music reviewers and radio stations don’t pay for CDs. Most car magazines don’t pay for the cars they test drive (consumer reports might be an exception, I’ll need to call and ask them). UL doesn’t pay for the products they test, in fact, manufacturers pay UL to test their products. You either trust all of these resources to be fair (including us), or you don’t. I cannot make that decision for you. I think it’s a good question for you to ask, though. I certainly take no offense to your inquiry.

    And, to be clear, this website is a business. We employ a team of five people, and I can be let go by our publisher the same as our previous editor. There is paid advertising on this site (the banner ads are in the right-hand column on the home page) that keep these people employed with health insurance and 401k. NO manufacturer has ever paid me to review their product. We are an Amazon affiliate, and that is the only affiliate program we run. We have been open about our Amazon affiliate status since the very beginning. I do not write this site as a hobby, it is my full-time job. My hobbies are running and hanging out with my family and friends and cooking and many other things. I love to help people, though, and I’m very blessed to have a job that allows me to combine my love of helping people with spreading the message of simple living. It’s the best job I can imagine having.

  32. posted by D on

    for free alternative:

    Get/create-with-tape a sheet of paper that will fit in the area you want to hang with framed photos. Frames don’t need to match, nor hangers be uniform.

    Place paper on floor and arrange frames to your liking. Trace. Mark hanging point (hanger, or wire stretched to top centre of its range) on paper.

    Put paper on wall, hammer hanging device (nail, specialty hook) so that hang point of device meets hang-point mark on paper.

    Hang gallery.

    Paper can be torn away from nail/hanger.

  33. posted by carole on

    I got this system a few years ago to hang a collection of vintage family photos. The B/W photos with the black frames look fantastic. I have moved the display several times, so having the template is a real timesaver.

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