How to Create a Gallery Wall in 8 Easy Steps
Do you have an assembly of framed family photos or a collection of favorite black and white photos or artwork stacked in a corner that you have been wanting to display? A “gallery wall,” a collection of framed artwork, photos and personal mementoes hung in a grouping, can be a stunning design solution and centerpiece for a staircase, hallway, bedroom or your living room decor. With a few easy steps and any combination of hangable items, you can create a gallery wall with a masterpiece look.
There is no “wrong way” to put together a gallery wall. After all, it is your very own space, and it features your own favorite art pieces or photography. Since you’ll be looking at the wall every day, the most important thing is that you are in love with every piece hanging on it, and choose photos and prints you love that mean something to you. You might even mix in some favorite family photos or some of your kids’ artwork.
I have seen gallery walls put together in so many ways, with different sized frames, different colors of frames, and prints that follow a theme or are completely random. Frames can be all-matte picture frames, all-white, all-black, or boho picture frames. That’s one of the beauties of a gallery wall: it is personal and can give your guests a visual sense of your personality and who you are.
How to Hang it Perfectly
So, you have your photos and/or art selected and ready to be hung. What do you do next?
1. Gather the Tools You’ll Need
- Artwork, photos, and other hangable items
- Kraft paper
- Scissors or craft knife
- Painter’s tape
- Nails or picture hangers
- Ruler or measuring tape
2. Choose Your Artwork and Wall Space
While the gallery wall is all about self-expression and creativity, unless you’re into the super-funky and eclectic look, there’s one design rule you might obey if you want a more uniform look: Make the color palette consistent. This doesn’t mean that every piece of art on the gallery wall needs to match, but the colors of the frames or the colors in the photos or artwork could be cohesive and complement each other. If you want a consistent look but have a varied color palette in your photos and artwork, you can choose frame colors that are consistent. This way, the works you display have a cohesive feel, even if it’s a selection of family pictures or your kid’s artwork.
Artwork created by your kids or teenagers is a great item to add into a gallery wall. You should also take a tape measure and gauge the amount of space you want your gallery wall to fill. If it’s just the area on the wall above a piece of furniture, you don’t need to measure the whole wall. Use painter’s tape to mark off the area when you’re done measuring.
3. Decide How You Want to Arrange the Gallery
Your home is a unique space with its own charms and challenges. Here are some different ways you can arrange your gallery wall to fit into your own space.
1. Grid Style
An arrangement of six, nine or 12 identically sized frames.
2. Column Style
A vertically stacked arrangement of four to six frames.
3. Salon Style
A floor-to-ceiling arrangement of small pieces collected over time.
4. Ledge Style
A grouping of three to five framed pieces leaned against one another on a shallow wall shelf.
5. Classic Style
A grouping of five to 10 framed pieces organically placed in a grouping.
One nice thing about all of these arrangements is that they can grow and change over time. In a grid or column gallery wall, that means adding either a new row or new piece. In a salon or classic gallery wall, you can just add pieces as you find them. I love an eclectic mixed-media gallery wall. Each wall reflects the unique stories of the person who collected the pieces.
4. Pre-Arrange the Artwork on the Floor
After choosing the pieces you want to hang, shuffle them around on the floor until you like a composition. Start at the bottom, in the center, and work up and out.
5. Keep the Spacing Consistent
A good way to organize a gallery wall is with generous spacing and keeping the space between pieces consistent. Try and keep your pieces at least two to three inches apart from one another, so that the gallery doesn’t look crowded.
6. Use Paper to Frame on the Wall
Once you’ve settled on a wall arrangement you like, cut out pieces of brown paper that match the sizes of the things you want to hang, and tape them to the wall. This lets you check the display layout and get a feel for the pieces before you put them up.
7. Mark Where the Nails Will Go
Use the brown paper to measure how far down the hanging hook is on the back of the frame. Pencil in where the nails go, and nail directly into the paper. It’ll easily tear apart around the nails once you have them all pounded in the wall. Once the nail is in, carefully pull the paper and cardboard separators off the wall, and make sure to have the nail pointing slightly upward.
8. Hang your photos or Artwork
Hang your framed photos or artwork on the nails. Consider these additional tips for hanging your photos:
- Think about your gallery wall as one single piece of art. Whether your arrangement is wide, narrow, big or small, the overall aesthetic is cohesive.
- Make sure to step back from your picture gallery to look at it. Taking a “bird’s eye view” can make a difference when putting the finishing touches on a big decorative project like a gallery wall.
- Check that the pieces on the wall look mostly in line with each other. Remember that sometimes walls, ceilings and floors are not completely even, so you may have to adjust pieces slightly to make the look appealing to the eye.
- Have someone tell you if a frame corner is too high or too low when you’re hanging the piece, since it is often hard to judge this up close.
Now that you know how to put together a gallery wall, remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Small variations can foster a natural, relaxed look for the serene space you might be aiming for with your decorating.
With some time and thought, you can create a gallery wall that feels like an extension of your personality and style. The more personal you make the gallery, the more likely you are to love it for a long, long time.
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