Creating an ‘ancestor wall’ with your family photos

Creating a luxe gallery-style ancestor wall is a stylish and sentimental way to display your family’s visual history. All you need for this DIY project are your digitized photos, a blank wall and a variety of picture frames.


No matter your space, there’s likely a suitable spot for a gallery wall. Staircase, hallway, or foyer walls are great options, as is the wall space above a sofa or console table. 

There are multiple ways to approach this project, so figure out which photos you would like to display before getting started. At Memory Labs, our technicians digitize your photographs and return them to you in three different file formats — Save, Show, and Share. Our high-quality Show files (1200 PPI for prints, 4000 PPI for slides and negatives) are perfect for printing and displaying in your home. 

When selecting frames, don’t be afraid to mix and match colours, sizes and styles — thrift shops, antique markets, and home decor stores all have great options at a range of price points. 

Next, determine what style of ancestor wall you want to create. Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration and spark your creativity. Pottery Barn’s website also has some handy templates for making your gallery wall, with looks ranging from cohesive to eclectic.

They recommend:

  • Determining which layout you’re going to use before getting started.

  • Mocking up the placement on the floor first. Start with the largest pieces then fill in with smaller photos.

  • Treating multiple pieces as one. Keep them at eye level, roughly 60° from the centre of the grouping to the floor.


One example of a balanced layout, courtesy of Pottery Barn 


If you prefer a less structured approach, interior designer Claire Zinnecker tells Chatelaine that mixing framed photos with priceless or sentimental objects can make for an interesting composition. For instance, you could hang an embroidered handkerchief or the key to your parents’ first house in a shadow box. 

For those seeking a neat and focused vignette, interior designer Kate Chipinski says you can frame 8x10” black and white photos. Before taking hammer to nail, spread everything out on the floor to visualize how all of the frames will look together. Use a laser level to ensure photos sit straight and are at the same height.

If the thought of permanently hanging a bunch of framed photos seems too committal, picture rails are a great option. You can experiment with heights, objects, and placement — and easily swap out photos when the mood strikes. 

“Overlapping frames create a casual vibe while spacing out several similar-toned pieces imparts a restrained elegance,” the article says, noting that you don’t have to limit your ledges to framed art. You can display a favourite book, postcard, leafy plant or sculptural vase.

At Memory Labs, we digitize your family’s old photos and videos so they are preserved for the next generation. Our advanced technology can improve picture quality, so your family’s treasure trove of memories will look their best when they’re shown, shared, and saved for the future. 


What We Do

We digitize your old photos and videos to preserve them for future generations using advanced technology to improve the picture.


How It Works

Find out how the Memory Labs process works step-by-step; from preparing your photos, videos and audio, to receiving your digital files.


Get Started

Learn how you can deliver your photos, videos and audio to Memory Labs. Choose from in-store drop-off, local pick-up and Canada-wide shipping.