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Photo Gallery Wall Under the Stairs { House Tour }

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Hi guys! I’m so excited to share this new gallery wall with you today! This is the latest project I’ve been working on. I love how this spot turned out! If you’re wondering about where I got anything you see in these photos, I will put everything I can remember in the Source List down at the bottom of this post! :)

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Here’s how it looked before. Just an empty wall!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

And here’s how it looks now!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

If you follow me on Pinterest, I drew inspiration from these pins (here and here) on my House & Home and Foyers & Entryways boards for this space.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Here’s a view of the wall looking into the foyer.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Another view looking into the foyer

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

You guys, I am so, so excited to tell you about one of my favorite features of this makeover! So this return air grille has always bothered me. I mean, yeah, it’s an unattractive metal grate, but if you have air conditioning, you have to have one, right? It comes with the territory. Normally this wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar, but this one is just right out in the open. I was always kind of bummed at the location of it. We have a very open floor plan, and this is one of the main walls. It’s open to the foyer, living room, and dining room. It definitely sticks out.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

I stumbled upon this wooden return air grille, and my jaw literally dropped! I had no idea they even made something like this!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Before.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

After. I was so excited when it got here. It looked even better than I could’ve imagined! It was super easy to order. The size of your filter = the size of the grille you should order. And the size is conveniently printed right on the filter in big bold numbers. I didn’t even have to take the metal grate off, I could see right through it to see the size. DONE! :) The new wooden grille comes primed (white) and ready to paint, so you can easily paint it to perfectly match your trim color. If your trim is white, you may not have to paint at all! Yay!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

What I love most is that not only is it prettier, but it’s also much, much more functional. First of all, it’s SO much easier to remove than the metal grate for when you have to replace the filter. This one just snaps right in and out. It’s also so much easier to clean! Just one quick swipe all the way across each slat with a Swiffer or dusting cloth, compared to the four tiny columns that are impossible to fit any sort of dusting cloth in between the miniature slats, lol!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

I wouldn’t do this for every return air grille in our house — we have two more, both out of the way in hallways — just because they are a little bit more expensive. But I would definitely do this a thousand times over for any return air grille that is out in the open like this one was. It completely dresses this space up. I love it. I can’t even imagine this wall without it.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Okay, moving on! :) Let’s take a closer look at a few other features of the new downstairs gallery wall. :) I really liked the idea of a storage ottoman underneath the console table. It could serve as extra storage for throw blankets or board games, it could be pulled out for an extra seat if we had a bunch of people over, or the lid can be flipped over and turned into a tray for drinks. Multifunctional! And I loved the burnt sienna / saddle color. It perfectly matches the trim of one of the suitcases in the foyer. So warm!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

I couldn’t resist this collection of oversized wooden skeleton keys, and I looked everywhere for the perfect basket to hold them. I loved this vintage egg crate I found on Etsy!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

This is another one of my favorite pieces. :)

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

It’s a vintage folding Polaroid Land Camera Model 150. I’m in love with it. The worn, leather hand strap. The textured, leathery body. The crinkled bellows. The shiny, crystal clear lens. I swoon.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Clock is from Target. :)

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Another view of the table.

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Here’s how the black and white prints I showed you last week turned out. I got them printed at Costco on Lustre paper, and I am thrilled the quality. It was so nice to be able to upload them to Costco from my computer and pick them up in the store an hour later!

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

Thanks so much for looking! If you’re wondering about anything in these photos, I’ll put everything I know in the source list below. Let me know if I left something out! :)

Turn that blank wall under the stairs into a photo gallery wall!

{ Source List }

Paint Color — Sherwin Williams Virtual Taupe
Collage Frames — Pier 1
Clock — Target
Vintage Polaroid Camera — Etsy
Pillar Holders and Candles — Pottery Barn
Wooden B Monogram — Old New Again on Etsy
Console Table — Pottery Barn
Storage Ottoman — Amazon
Set of 3 oversized wooden skeleton keys — Home Decorators Collection
Large white oversized wooden skeleton key — Target
Vintage metal egg crate — Etsy
Throw blanket — Target
Wood Return Air Grille — Van Dyke’s Restorers

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47 Responses
  1. Van Dyke's Restorers

    Hey, we love how this turned out! Would you mind if Van Dyke’s used these shots in our future blogs and website?

  2. Samantha

    Amanda-
    I stumbled upon this post (and your blog) while doing a Google image search for wood return air grilles. I wanted to see some pictures of them installed in real homes, and yours is the first image I clicked on because it was the nicest looking! It doesn’t appear you reply to posts, but if you do, would you mind sharing the name of the trim color? It’s a really great, creamy color–not too yellow.
    Thanks!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Samantha,

      The trim was there when we moved in. There is a paint can leftover from the previous owners, but there is no color name on it. Here’s a picture of the top. We took this to Home Depot and they were able to tell what the color was and make more. Hope this helps!

      Best Off White Trim Paint Color

  3. Sonja

    Love your gallery wall!! I would have tried painting the grill and trim around it the same color as the wall to help camouflage it even more. Thanks so much for all the inspiration your blog gives, Amanda!

  4. Shaina

    It turned out SO NICE. I love the crate, the camera, the keys. I especially love how the photos with the low clock turned out. Love, love, love it!

  5. Jessica - The Novice Chef

    This is awesome and makes it look so much better! I don’t have one of these vents in my main part of the house, however my Granny does and I can’t wait to show her how we can fancy it up!

    P.S. I’m so jealous of all your fun out in Cali! I feel like I was really there at all those bakeries with you and Jenny! ;-)

  6. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    I love your changes and additions – it all looks so inviting! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Lori

    Looks great!
    Interesting about the vent having a filter behind it. I didn’t know anything about that, so I got a flashlight and looked in our air returns…no filters. We do have a filter on the furnace/AC unit in the basement so I guess that is how its done. Does your house have a basement? If so is that where your furnace/AC unit is?

  8. Angela

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and just wanted to say I always love your posts, your style, your food ideas, your photography and everything else too! I love the air conditioner cover too – so classy. Your pantry overhaul was to die for too! Anyhow, just wanted to write out what I always think when I look at your site. BTW – I’m from the US but have been living in Zimbabwe & South Africa since 2006 so you have a definitely “African” follower! :) All the best…

    1. Samantha

      Karen,
      You can probably install a wood grille on your ceiling. I guess you’d want to check with the manufacturer first to make sure it’s okay, but I really think there would be no issue. Plus, it’d look great–just like it does when it’s used for wall returns!
      :-)

  9. ashley - baker by nature

    After seeing all your adorable outfits this past weekend, it’s not shock you’re also an amazing decorator ;) Also… can I move in?! I love your style, lady! xx

  10. sandy

    I have followed you for I think 7 years since we moved from Boston to North Carolina, first for a scrapbooking question I had for you, and now I just turn to you for anything. You never cease to amaze me. And the awful dreadful ugly grate for cold air return, you are an angel for solving that problem, I am going there right now. I can barely contain myself. Thank you for such a huge problem solved.
    PS the table and contents look awesome too

  11. Pam

    Super cute. It all looks wonderful. I don’t have air grills that big. Your new one looks 1000 times better. Good call. Well worth the money on that one!

  12. Thesha

    Oh my gosh! I love it! I think I am going to have to steal some of your ideas for my mantel. I love what you have done with your air exchange too.

  13. Dalia

    I love it Amanda and the new air grille, is fabulous. Thank you for sharing these with us. I can’t wait to see the rest of the home as you go along your changes. What is that wall color? I am loving it.

  14. Julia

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I need to thank you SO MUCH for the grate idea!! We need to replace ours (it’s silver metal and ugly) and the wood one is PERFECT.

  15. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    Love! What a neat discovery to replace the vent. I’m really enjoying watching your decorating skills at work first-hand. Nice job on this one!

  16. Tara @ Unsophisticook

    That wooden air grille is brilliant! I’m totally ordering a couple for our living and dining rooms. I’ve always hated the cheap metal ones that are on there now — such an eyesore!

  17. Barb

    Love it all- great job! I especially love the new grate on the wall! What a difference! Thanks for sharing all the sources, too! Love the paint color!

  18. Meredith

    I’m usually not a fan of collage walls but yours looks great. And I LOVE the wooden air return cover. I need to get one of those for my ugly metal air return in my family room!

  19. Niki

    Wonderful solutions! I have same situation under my stairs but don’t have room for a table. I’ve tried hanging many different pictures but so far haven’t been happy with them. The space BELOW them just throws everything off. :-( You’ve chosen some great decor elements!

  20. Becca

    Amazing Amanda! I love the collection of pictures – they turned out gorgeous! Do you have any suggestions for printing photos besides costco? I am not a member but looking to do a photo/gallery wall of pictures in the next few months.

  21. Kate@Framed Cooks

    Your house is just plain gorgeous! Love the collage frame – you have my head spinning with all kinds of ideas! :)

  22. Lisa

    Looks great. You could also paint the grille the same color as the wall up until the point where the trim starts almond the rest of the wall- leave that bottom part the trim color. Then it will totally disappear!

  23. Debi

    What a beautiful job you are doing decorating that new house of yours…. keep the pictures coming. Love love love it all… Thanks for sharing….

  24. Anele @ Success Along the Weigh

    I love it all but yeah…jaw dropped on the air return cover. Ours is up in the ceiling, I wonder if we could use that or not. You can bet I’m gonna try to find out!

  25. Ter

    Very nice, love everything. The camera caught my eye since I collect them. That really changed the area looks homey. Love the suitcases by the door.
    Thanks for sharing-

  26. Southern Gal

    The grill cover was the first thing I noticed. I love it! I have a huge grill like that in our living room. I have a chair placed strategically over it to somewhat block the view, but this looks fabulous.

  27. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    Amanda you have gorgeous taste and I want to move into your house!!! Seriously, every detail is just so perfectly orchestrated and your eye is so good and you can be my interior designer any day! I love the keys and that old camera!

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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