How to create a focal wall

So, the other day at Orlando’s place you got to see his lovely gallery wall, and while, yes, a lot of us are over these when they are done wrong, when they are done RIGHT they are still pretty awesome in my book.


Photo by Zeke Ruelas

So we thought we’d make a video on what do do with the major focal wall in your house . What do you put up there and how … ?  It can set the tone for other things in your house and yes, dumb things down if the focal wall is bad or too small or making any number of other easy mistakes.

Together, Orlando and I show you the three best options for your focal wall and the rules that go along with them.

In case you are at work and your boss is all “No focal wall videos on my dime,” be sure to watch it later, but to recap there are three major options:

1. The huge statement piece (watch the video for sizing rules on this guy).

orlando soria art

2. A grid with multiple pieces of similar art (below abstract art above the Dunham sofa — all from West Elm.) God from this angle those look WAYYY too close together, but watch the video.


3. The gallery wall. (Again, watch the video for some tips on how to do this because mistakes are made every day in America when it comes to gallery walls.)


And sometimes we GIF things out because it’s just so satisfying to watch.


What’s your favorite?

1. Huge piece

2. Grid

3.  Gallery wall

Thanks Tessa for these photos, video, and for giffing it out.

  1. Love all three! What’s not to love? Fabulouso

  2. jody

    hi there — love this room. i am thinking of ordering the dunham sofa for a beach house. do you think it is comfy to curl up in with the straight arms?

    • Yes. Super comfy. That’s why Orlando got it because his was really comfy before and now he and his boyfriend cuddle like monkeys.

      • jody

        thanks emily!!!

  3. christine

    I love the gallery wall the best, it looks collected. The big art is pretty powerful though. For some reason the pieces in the grid look to match-matchy. I like the art but way too much black and white….and I’m a huge black and white fan!

  4. Heather

    Have to say I am liking the gallery wall. Love your posts and so appreciate your humor. You make me laugh out loud. BTW, what’s the wall color in the living room?

    Thanks, HP

    • kelly

      He said on his blog that it’s Half Moon Crest from Benjamin Moore.

  5. Hillary

    Great video! You two are the cutest. I liked all three options although I think the big guy was least successful in the space, but that was just because of the muted colors, not because of scale or placement. Love the final gallery wall, although what are your thoughts on putting the tiny piece up so high? Then nobody can see it!

  6. Sarah

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  7. Sarah

    Can you please source the statement piece? Looks like another version in the gallery wall?

      • Now I’m creeping but the fact that his store is called Storlando is making me need to buy something from him immediately!

        • Emily

          I bought something from him a while ago in Storlando. I think that piece is still for sale although he LOVES it so it might be expensive. Its awesome though. xx

          • Sarah

            Love this blog!!!

  8. Kelley Burrus

    Gallery. Gallery. Gallery. Great post.

  9. kim basinger

    Hey! Each one is great, but my preference is the gallery wall. It’s so interesting to see and enjoy if you’re sitting in that room. You have always done amazing gallery walls, Emily! Thanks for constantly inspiring!

  10. Laura

    Love this post! You crack me up and have great information. A win, win. I broke the rules and watched it at work. Oh, and I vote gallery!

  11. Hi Emily, I love how all these turned out, and I think its pretty useful, but I have a personal question. I have my bed next to the wall facing horizontal so it looks like a sofa right? no headboard, and my walls are 3meters high. So if i want to make a gallery wall, where should I start, en where should I stop?
    Love your blog, thank you so much!

    Au revoir!

    • Emily

      OH, that is tricky. Normally i say 6″ above whatever surface – like the sofa. But maybe more in your case. But not too much more or it will look too disconnected from the piece of furniture. If you have a ton of pillows then go maybe 10″ above the pillows? That should work, i’d think….. good luck!

  12. the gallery wall is definitely my favorite!! i love the video! but what are your thoughts/tips on mix and matching frames? seems like every time I try to mix and match my frames it looks a little off. thanks emily!

    • Emily

      That’s so funny. We talked about that in the video but it got edited out due to time. So i think that you can mix and match frames but stay within your color palette. In this case its white, black, grey and silver. Make sense?

      • yes! i might try it with browns, tans and whites. thank you!

  13. Elise

    I vote for the gallery wall. I don’t think I will ever be over them! (My parents have been doing this since the 1970′s. Not sure it was intentional – more of a “we bought too much art at the charity auction and need to put it all up somewhere.”) I vote a big yes for the GIF, too. Love!

    • Emily

      Me too. I saw photos of brian’s parents house in the 70′s and it was all gallery walls and i loved it. I think if its good art its always in style.

  14. Gabby

    They all look great, but I love the visual interest of the gallery wall. His apartment is amazing!

  15. Kelly Jo Bahry

    totally the gallery wall, just because if you love art how are you just supposed to have one piece to show off? I live in a studio and I love showing the different pieces I have collected over the years. So, third choice, mos def.

  16. Cindy

    Gallery wall, yes yes yes.

  17. Gina

    Thanks for the awesome video! I’m planning to do a gallery wall but above my dining room table which doesn’t really take up the whole wall. In this case, do I still fill the entire wall even though I don’t have a big sofa that kind of creates the perimeter of the gallery wall?

    • Emily

      Yep. I say keep it to the scale of the room, not just the piece of furniture. It will actually help the dining table/room look bigger and more engaged. xx

  18. Lauren

    Gallery wall all the wayers. I’m copying this in my new place. You guys are a great team!

  19. Lyndsey

    Love the gallery wall!! Maybe I’m too OCD, but was wondering if you measure the space between the pics so that there is uniformity? If so, what’s the amount of space you usually use?

    • Emily

      Nope. We talked about this in the video but we cut it out for time. If you do a grid then YES the ‘rivers’ we call them should be the same. BUT if you are doing a gallery wall that is all different then no, the rivers don’t have to be the same. Good luck!

  20. I’m loving the gallery wall! I want one in my place so bad. Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. BridgetG

    Gallery all the way! My Mom is moving in with me and I had to empty two rooms, so you should see my gallery on both sides of the basement stairway — I just couldn’t cram more art/stuff on the main level.

  22. Gallery wall all the way, no one does a gallery wall like Emily! :)

  23. Holly

    That is one spiffy gif! I love the gallery wall – I guess I’m not over them yet after all! For some reason I thought it would make the room seem smaller, but it seems to do the opposite – and it totally balances out the wide open window-wall. It’s like magic… I love your blog :)… in case I haven’t said it a million times already…

  24. JeanneW

    Or-LAHN-do…..okay, I got it now!!!

  25. Laura

    hands down the gallery wall! OBSESSED! and btw, Emily and Orlando you two are awesome!

  26. Kyle

    What do you use to hang artwork? Tiny nails?

  27. All those options are fab, but I really love the gallery wall. I have one that I’ve been adding to and it’s finally exactly where I want it…except…I need a teeny tiny piece of art. I’ve been trolling Etsy for weeks and so far haven’t found the exact perfect thing. Here’s to the hunt!

  28. Mary

    The gallery is my favorite…looks so cool, collected and effortlessly chic (i think cause it looks collected). They did all look great but my second choice would be the grid. The black and white with the navy looks edgy and unexpected!

  29. Dona

    Love the gallery wall! I was wondering..I have a wall that divides the kitchen and living room, about 8′ square. Right now it has a huge round mirror on it – but so impersonal. The way the room is arranged, it is almost like a hallway wall in that there is no furniture in front of it. Would I use the whole wall as a frame for my gallery – all the way to the ceiling and down to the floor? I don’t want to make it look horrible!

  30. Elisa

    Such a cute video! I’m really diggin the gallery, you two did such a good job. Perfect amount of color pop.

  31. Ash B

    I love number 3 – the galley wall. And my boss is all “no focal wall videos on my dime”! Grrr.

    PS Orlando’s art is all totally amazing, he’s such a talented cookie!

  32. Kaaren

    I’m a “Gallery” gal. Although, the other two are just fine. Galleries add so much more interest. Personally, if I do a gallery in a main living area, I try NOT to replicate the gallery effect in other rooms adjacent to the main living area. I also am careful not to install another gallery in the same room as another picture gallery wall. Love, love, love that black and white abstract painting. My fav.

  33. Araceli

    The Gallery wall is my favorite! It looks cute and keeps it interesting :P

  34. Tori

    I have an angled roofline in my living room (slants up from left to right), and would love to do a gallery wall, but haven’t pulled the trigger because of your tip about filling the wall completely. I also love it when the wall is full, but I don’t know if I should follow up the angled line of the ceiling, or if that would look too forced. Thoughts?

  35. Michelle H

    Two thumbs and two paws up for the gallery wall!!

  36. GayHermit

    Emily & Orlando,
    Thanks for the blog. Love it!
    I like all three arrangements, but the gallery wall probably fits my creative anarchy needs best.
    Really wanted to thank you and whomever created that pickguard art piece for the inspiration. Never though of using a pickguard as an art piece, but am totally stealing that idea! (When I can, finances and space permitting.)
    Once again, thanks for all your work and effort, it is greatly apprecaited!

  37. nihiru

    Great post & great video!

    This gallery wall is perfect!

  38. love the gallery wall and thanks for all your work on this video – its inspiring

  39. KT

    I really like the gallery but there is I also love about the grid. It is simple and doesn’t overpower the room. I also love the artwork in the grid. You two always inspire me to do something with my blah house.

  40. Jane

    What I’m really loving is your JEANS! Emily do you mind sourcing those?
    Also I love the gallery wall, but don’t want to start one because I think I’ll be over it in a month or two (: love your blog.

  41. Did someone already comment about frames? I love the mixed up frames with a cohesive color palette. Do you ever do all the same frames with a crazier mix of art? Thoughts?

  42. Brandy

    Excellent use of the animated .gif I approve.

  43. Jennie

    This gallery wall is gorgeous! One of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s cohesive enough without being boring. It reads as a whole, but there’s a lot of movement within the whole assemblage. Also, it goes well with everything else in the room, black and white, wood frames, blue, graphic pattern . . . . I’ve loved gallery walls for such a long time, but never had the right size walls until recently, so am eager to get going with mine. It will have more traditional frames, and a “quieter” look, but I can use these ideas about how to put things together. It’s too bad you had to cut stuff to fit the video within a time frame–I would have loved to see the edited-out parts as well!

    For some reason, in the non-gallery wall shots, the single large piece and pair of large pieces look too far above the sofa to me. I know they are centered vertically, but my eye is going right to that gap between the paintings and the sofa. Perhaps it’s just the camera causing this to happen? Perhaps it’s just me being too persnickety.

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  45. I love the gallery wall! Great video too! I want to try the same thing above my couch but the problem is I have a window behind the couch that takes up the middle section of the wall :( Would a gallery wall still work?

  46. denise

    Wow…I love them all! And even though I think the gallery wall is great, I probably lean toward the one large piece. I love that big color impact. I have one leg of a sectional against a HUGE wall in my great room. The wall is 18′ long with 14′ high ceilings. Hanging art halfway between the top of the sofa and the molding would make it way too high, I think. How much of that wall actually needs to be filled?

  47. emily jane

    After watching this video for a 4th time (! -because I miss seeing your two faces on my television! on that subject, I’ve noticed you haven’t answered the questions in your comment section concerning Secret’s From A Stylist..? Clearly, HGTV would be all-the-way insane if they didn’t bring you back & would be risking a veiwer mutiny -from me any way..!), I had to share with you how much I enjoy/worry about Orlando when you are holding the hammer and gesturing as you speak : ) -for some reason, it tickles my funny bone a little bit more every time I watch it..?

  48. Hi Emily!

    Could you write a post/create a video on how to create a gallery wall and incorporate a flat-screen TV? My biggest questions are:

    1.) Does the TV replace the large piece of artwork? (Our tv is 37″)
    2.) If the gallery is hung above a console – do you still hang artwork across the entire wall or just the width of the console?

    I love your blog – thank you for creating such wonderful content!

    • Laura s

      I was going to post and ask the same thing about incorporating a flat screen TV. The only wall I have is where we have our Telly, and I am wondering if a gallery around it is a good idea or a bad one.

  49. Ange

    Cute video! I love Orlando’s massive painting and the gallery wall version, because it’s more salon style and less of a splat of artwork in one section like you see sometimes.

  50. What a great post and video!

    I’m wondering, though, what do you use to hang artwork? It looks like in the video you use small nails, but do you ever use wall anchors and hooks? And what do you do about all the holes in the wall, especially after you’re over the gallery wall or decide you don’t exactly like the placement of a piece? Spackle and paint or just ignore?

    Sorry for the ton of questions. Thanks!!! And keep up the great work.

  51. Really fun video. I’m feeling motivated to finally tackle the horribly bare wall behind my own sofa. I have one thrift store painting up there but I have always known it was too small, totally violates the 2/3 rule. Thanks for the inspiration!

  52. Maria

    Love this video! as if you were in my mind. So.. Lately I’m thinking i want a gallery wall in my living room but i’d like my flat screen TV integrated. Have any ideas?? :-)))

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  54. Heidi

    I am currently obsessed with gallery walls so I vote for that one. I kinda want to buy every piece of art I find and go crazy on all the walls in my house – which is probably a bad idea since we sell vintage decor! BTW, congratulations on the bebe!

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  56. Agnes

    Hi Emily! LOVE your work!! Question regarding gallery walls-are they a-ok in the dining room??! (dining room that opens up to great room?). Thanks SOSOSOSOSO much!!

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  59. Amy N.

    Hi Emily/Orlando!

    First off, I am straight up obsessed with this post and lurve your aesthetic. I cashed out all my credit card points for West Elm gift certificates and well, no regrets! Who needs a airline miles when you have a cozy living space, am I right?

    My living room walls are a pale blue (blue opal by Behr), couch/loveseat a dark sage and our rug is the West Elm Sable Sweater Rug. I am using the same abstract b&w painting from West Elm as my focal point piece of art and doing a similar b&w centered gallery wall because, well, I am not that creative.

    My questions are:

    1) With the gray, light blue and sage furniture I have, what complimentary pops of color should I look for in my art? I am very drawn to blues, greens and grays, but zzzzz. I also love pinks, but my husband does not.
    2) I have a hideous fireplace with terrible tiles + wood. It’s bad, trust me. Right now we have our TV semi-hiding it. Do you have suggestions for covering terrible rental fireplaces?
    3) Do you have any suggestions for displaying family photos? I love love family photos – plus I am a newlywed so I have many a cheesy wedding picture. How do I display these pictures while maintaining my (actually your) design aesthetic?
    4) Even though I live in Berkeley, will you guys be my best friends?


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  63. Melissa

    Hi, I just found this post and wondering if you would source those wonderful white lamps?

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  66. jade

    I LOVE this gallery wall! The combination of colours has me stunned!
    Does anyone know where that Red Mickey Mouse Print is from?
    I would love something similar!

  67. Alice

    Nice job here! Usually I personally leave more space between pictures when hanging many of them, yet here the composition looks awesome ;-)

  68. Sana

    I love the gallery wall, but have a question. My wall extends from the living room to the dining room. Would you suggest I stop where the sofa ends or continue unto the space over the dining room table? Thanks!

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