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Ryann Asks Emily How To Frame Her Art (And Basically Gets A Master Class In Gallery Wall Execution & Framing)

I have lost track of how many decisions I’ve made since I began my MOTO (makeover takeover) process last year. I’ve nailed down paint color, window treatments, pillows, throws, rug, and furniture options and yet the decisions keep on coming. Right now, I am staring at my unfinished gallery wall wishing it would magically become self-aware and figure itself out. Even though I have a vision of what I want it to be, the execution is easier said than done. Namely, the amount of frame options out there makes my head spin and I kinda just want someone to tell me “this is what you should do and it will look awesome”. Well, fortunately for me I work for a pretty famous interior designer! What luck! So last week, I sheepishly asked Em if she could help me figure out the right frames for my gallery wall because frankly, I am all out of decision-making energy in this area. She graciously agreed so now my gallery wall is in much better hands. But first, let me give you a sense of what I am going for…

Inspiration

photo by natalie jeffcott | via apartment therapy

As a refresher, or for those just tuning in to my MOTO process, my style is a bit 70s-cowgirl-meets-eclectic-old-world-Italian-grandma or as I’ve recently liked to put it, Bridgerton meets The Godfather meets Thelma and Louise with a hint of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Now, the location and feel of my gallery wall is specifically inspired by some of my and my fiancé’s favorite Italian restaurants. Shortly after the pandemic hit and we were quarantined, we both felt we hit a roadblock with the design of our living and dining area. I was feeling super uninspired and wanted more color and life in the space but didn’t know what direction to go necessarily. Then, one day my fiancé was making one of his famous Italian dishes and it suddenly hit me. I looked at him and said, “what if we made our home feel as welcoming and eclectic as an old Italian restaurant, with a bunch of photos and art surrounding our dining table??” Of course he loved the idea and it’s been our vision ever since.

design by rita konig | via coco kelley

Since then, the creation of our gallery wall has been highly influenced by how we want the space to feel. We want it to feel lived in but not cluttered, definitely eclectic, and very heavily inspired by both of our interests. Easier said than done…

As I looked through my pinboard for inspiration for this post, I noticed all the gallery walls I am attracted to have a mix of styles of both frames and art but with a mostly old-world feel which is possibly why this aspect of my MOTO has been so tough. I just needed a true professional for help.

Enter The Emily Henderson:

General Framing Questions:

1. Do you have any golden rules when it comes to framing? 
I always share the advice “frame for the piece, not for your space”. While I don’t ALWAYS stick to it, it’s a pretty great rule of thumb – the frame should complement the art first, think about your space after (and usually the simpler the better IMHO).

2.  Are there frames you would only use for certain types of art?
I like a visually lighter/thinner frame, in general, unless it’s a big piece of art and can handle a thick frame. The bulkiness of the frame shouldn’t overpower the piece of art – it should bring your eye to the art (you know, frame it, ha) but then let the art shine.

3. When it comes to gallery walls do you prefer uniform frames or mixing and matching?
All can look GREAT, but you aren’t wrong by being frustrated. It’s HARD. I know that this is really annoying advice, but a gallery wall is only as good as the art in it. I think it’s much easier to execute one large piece of art than try to quickly collect a bunch and force them to work together. There are some frames I don’t love (like over-the-top baroque, needlessly chunky, or too shiny brass), but that’s just a personal preference.

4. If you use matted frames should they all be matted or is it okay to have some matted and some not?
You can definitely mix matted and not matted. I love float mounted with a mat far better than the more traditional bevel cut mat and if I had to choose between full bleed and matted I suppose I prefer full bleed (where the art goes straight to the frame) but there are some pieces that really need the negative space between the art and the frame – some breathing room to help it feel more important and special and give your eye a break.

 5. What are some of your favorite places to source frames?
If you want to make your life easier and you have a budget then we love Framebridge and Simply Framed, but they are on the more expensive side. I generally only do those for pieces that are not standard sizes or where you want a special treatment (like float mount). I honestly love frames from Ikea, CB2, Room and Board and West Elm as well.

6. Are there rules for mixing vintage ornate frames and new frames?
Not really, I think that modern art looks better in simpler frames and not in ornate frames. So I generally only use ornate frames if they are original to the older painting or feels really fitting. I’ve found that if I’m intentionally framing something that I opt for simpler as I feel it’s more timeless.

Ryann here again. Now, we are going to move on to my actual gallery wall and I feel nauseous thinking about revealing it to you because A) it is not final and B) art is hard to curate and so so personal so there is a big chance many of you will not love anything I have up. Even though a handful of the pieces are straight from Emily’s prop closet, arranging them correctly and presenting them in the best way is no easy feat. But for the sake of research, I am setting aside my pride because all I really want is a fabulous gallery wall that reflects my personality and style. Here she is (for now):

my gallery wall as is — not final

From Em: At first glance it does feel off and it’s hard to know why. After staring at it for a while I think there are few things you could think about: 1. I think you have too many small pieces, specifically vertical. 2. you need a bigger piece to help anchor everything and 3. I’m still not convinced it’s the right wall for a gallery wall. I usually put gallery walls either over a piece of furniture – sofa, credenza, built-in, or where I would put an accent wall (like a niche or a hallway/powder room). I fear that in this location you need an anchor of some sort. However, ANYTHING can be done. But it is making this corner feel cluttered, busy, and small. For those of you at home, Ryann has a tricky corner because needs a dining table, desk, and a piece of storage so it’s pretty tight over there. I kinda want to take a stab at rearranging and put the dining table in the corner where the desk is instead of floating in the pass-through space.

I also think that I would play with the rivers being closer together – less spacing in between the pieces. I kinda want your table to be against the wall – as a rectangle, not floating so that it can help ground that gallery and also allow for more pass-through space. Then you could integrate an articulating sconce into the gallery to hang over the table which would look cool. Then maybe you find a cool folding screen to delineate between the “dining area” and your “office” or move your desk somewhere altogether (by entry?). It’s SO HARD!!!!

the space above my sofa for reference

Emily’s Framing Advice

Left: This frame feels a bit heavy and ornate for the piece. It could totally work but it feels like a lot.

Right: I think as-is this is fine. I feel like on the dark wall all I see is the white mat, but I would leave it for now and try to work with it.

Left: I would put this in a much bigger frame with a matte. Maybe a mid-tone wood and make it look more like contemporary art. this piece can go really “thrift store” and “cheesy” but I think elevating it into a much bigger modern wood frame would give it the presence it needs.

Right: I think this frame is great as is!

Left: This guy is hilarious. Keep the frame for now. It could go in a modern frame to give it more of a contemporary art feel – thin wood frame, float mount over a mat.

Right: This piece is all about personal preference. I’m assuming it has sentimental meaning but the colors and vibe are different than the other pieces, which can be totally fine but just makes it more challenging.

Left: I love this little old frame, it’s cute!

Right: I found this etching piece at a thrift store and while I like the frame I don’t love the matting – I wish it were less dingy (but that’s just a personal preference). But I also fear that a bright white frame on the wall would be really jarring.

thrifted print from em

I would float mount this with a wood frame – you want to see the edges and that it’s old, not behind a mat. I’ve hoarded this for so long and I’m so excited to see it get some play!

Left: You could float mount this in a larger wood frame to help it have more presence, to see the ripped edges, and add some warmth.

Right: I love this piece – definitely a dark frame, maybe a black fabric mat to help give it some presence?

Left: Leave for now! I got this piece at the flea market I think and loved it as-is.

Right: I love this piece and I think mixed with the old world art it still totally works and the color palette feels spot on.

drawing by stephanie kurth

OOh I like this little guy. You could float mount it with a dark thin frame that echos the thin lines of the piece.

Also from Em: Listen, again I want to say “there are no rules” with gallery walls because I’ve seen all the rules broken and have broken them myself many times, and they can all work. HOWEVER, it’s just easier to make a gallery wall look really good when there is a theme or some sort of consistent color palette within the variety of shapes and colors. I would lean into the “old world” vibe of the paintings, etchings, and the figure work that all feel more neutral and naturally work together really well. I would take them all down and divide them into two categories – old world and neutral and more modern and colorful. You might find that sticking in one world makes it so much easier to look good.

Ryann here again. I honestly feel like I just got a Masterclass in framing which is awesome. It’s like everything I was feeling that was off about my gallery wall has finally been put into words. I am PUMPED but also slightly nervous thinking about letting Em and all of you down because I am so emotionally attached to many of these pieces. That said, I feel hopeful and excited and on the right track.

Now, I’d love your guys’ input if you’d be so kind. Namely, do you think the gallery wall is in the wrong place or can I make it work? Should I move it over the sofa so it’s more grounded or do you like the idea of it staying in the dining area as I originally was inspired to do? I know it’s tough having not seen the whole space (I must leave some things for the reveal after all) but your two cents is very valuable and welcomed. xx

Opener Image Credit: Design by Velinda Hellen Design | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Velinda’s First Freelance Client Reveal: Molding The ‘Builder-Grade Budget’ + Where They Saved & Splurged

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Nancy
17 days ago

The last one, I would do with a black mat and moderne black thin frame

Rusty
17 days ago

I’d split the art into two vibes – olde worlde & more modern, colourful.

I recommend putting the olde worlde ones in the dining nook, BUT instead of squaring off the frames, ease them into a more ROUND-ISH edge, to ‘speak’ to the curves of your table and bentwood chairs.

Then the colourful, modern art can go in a grid over the dofa, to be added to as you continue to collect.

My 2 cents from a highschool Art teacher.
Good luck. You’ve got this! 😊

Lisa
17 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

I’m with you on the rounded grouping Rusty! I think thats exactly the right idea!! 🙂

15 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

I agree with Rusty and Emily. Lots of smaller work- so split them in two, keep the arranging cloud-like (vs boxy) and for your style the rivers must be small. I’d keep an eye out for a large piece- even a poster could help for awhile.
Also, some might think it strange- but I imagine Italian restaurants as including family photos- so consider gathering a few classics or places and or people and adding them to the mix in the kitchen area. I am also totally nuts for maps. They can go huge AND I always have one for easy access when story telling. Topo maps are gorgeous but a street map from your favorite Italian town or your city could be a perfect large piece of “art”. Good luck! Remember- it will change when you discover new art so you might want to consider a picture rail.

Evelin
17 days ago

1) This swimsuit art is so so wonderful! It catched me immediately and I scrolled back several times. I like the more chunky frame it has and wouldn´t change it. And when I read that this is you, painted by your grandmother – WOW!!!! This one needs a special place.
2) I like that you tried to keep some pieces unframed, but the last sketch is too flimsy to stay without a frame. 
3) As long as we dont see the full room, it is hard to have an opinion about the location for the gallery wall. But I understand that you can´t reveal too much now. I would stick to the restaurant theme. But maybe think about the table form and location of the tabel again, like Em suggested. Discussing it with your colleagues, who know your space is a great help. A gallery wall above a sofa might be too predictable? My 2 cents

K
17 days ago
Reply to  Evelin

I also LOVE the swimsuit art and I LOVE the frame that it’s in! How incredible to have a portrait by your grandmother!

Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  Evelin

Oh, yes!!!
I forgot to say how wonderful and special to have a painting of you, by your grandmother!!! I can see that it’s YOU, too. 😊 She’s done your eyes spot on!

Sheila
17 days ago

Love your back & forth convo – almost convinced me I could try a gallery wall! It would be easier to pull it together over the sofa but I love your Italian restaurant inspo, too, although that vibe isn’t what I’d want next to my desk. Can’t wait to see what you choose.
Love most of the pieces except that thrifted Jesus currently looks like something my grandma cut out from the free church calendar in 1962 and stuck in a cheap frame. But hey, if you love it, you’ll make it work!

Pinny
17 days ago

I really like the paint color you have chosen! To address Emily’s comment about gallery walls working well above a sofa/credenza, and without actually seeing more of the space, I’d say to consider nailing a piece of trim (wainscoting?) to the wall. Paint it the same color as your walls., And hang everything above that trim piece. Alternatively, if you’re not totally satisfied with your current options, instead if a gallery wall, you could add a few long shelves to that wall and add art and objects as you acquire them. Fewer nail holes and more flexibility to let it evolve.

Pinny
17 days ago
Reply to  Pinny

Also, are you sure you need a desk and table? How about using a slightly larger table that doubles as a desk? Just make sure your storage piece can accommodate your office supplies. (That might be another reason to consider long shelves -you could have a few decorative boxes for pens, papers, etc)

Emily
17 days ago

How fun! I think Emily gave you some great tips. If you want to play around with seeing what your pieces will look like with different types of mats/frames, check out americanframe.com. Even if you don’t buy from them (though I have in the past and would definitely recommend), they have a really cool setup where you can upload a picture of your art and mess around with different frames, mat colors, etc… You can customize everything (ie big mat, small mat, no mat) and have lots of frame options. I like it better than Framebridge’s preview option where you’re stuck with whatever mat size they generated for you. Anyways, if you don’t have great Photoshop skills, it’s a cool way to virtually design a gallery wall.

kat
17 days ago
Reply to  Emily

that is such a good tip that anyone could try!

Alli
17 days ago

I think you can keep all these pieces together and can keep them around the dining table but agree you need a bigger “anchor” piece – in fact I think you need two pieces (that work together) that are both bigger than everything you have here (though one bigger than the other). Another thing you can play with is varying somewhat the space between the pieces of art. If you took four of the small pieces and grouped them in a quad fairly close together they would present in the overall wall as more like one piece weight-wise. It would also be more fun with how eclectic these pieces are to have a sub-grouping within the gallery wall. I think that will make it look more cohesive even if the four you choose have little in common besides size (and with how many small pieces you have, you could do this twice, or you could have a second grouping of two hung vertically close together perhaps). Can’t wait to see the evolution!

Marie
17 days ago

My artist friend told me about Frame Destination.com. I haven’t used them yet, but her frames are great quality and she said they are very affordable.

A
17 days ago

i love your pieces! I think the gallery wall is great by your dining area, I love the Italian restaurant vibe. I think what you need is one big statement art piece over your sofa (colorful and graphic with movement – think those 70s super graphics on walls or one of Cold Picnics funky rugs) and then one larger anchor piece for your gallery wall (a vintage Italian travel poster maybe?). Right now there’s not enough contrast with the sizes. I’m excited to see your reveal!

Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  A

Oooh, the vintage Italian travel poster is a fabulous idea for the dining nook!

Mariana
16 days ago
Reply to  A

I had a similar idea: big piece above the sofa, a bigger anchor piece in the existing gallery wall, and I would probably take it all the way to the floor. For me what feels “off” is the middle row of many small pieces, maybe if you mix them up a little it could make more sense. Love love this idea of a vintage Italian travel poster! That dining nook already looks amazing, as the rest os the living room actually (love the paint color!). Good luck!

Lisa
17 days ago

I LOVE YOUR ART! You have collected some really beautiful (and meaningful!) pieces 🙂 I’d say if you want them on that wall, keep them there and try to make it work! You currently have a lot of smaller pieces and are trying to cover a pretty big wall, which makes your beautiful art look a little lost. A bigger piece of art or a furniture piece below could help anchor them, though I get if that is not an option (why is finding bigger pieces SO HARD? and also furniture layouts…) I’d echo Rusty’s suggestion of scooting them closer together (thus eliminating the dead space between the pieces so that from afar it almost feels like one big piece) and then grouping them together above the table in a roundish shape so that they eccho the table’s shape and anchor themselves together in that roundish shape. So instead of trying to cover the whole wall which I feel you’d need more pieces for (and can have fun collecting in the time to come!) I’d suggest thinking of your table as say a credenza and grouping your pieces above/in releation to the table – if that makes sense? At least… Read more »

Donna
17 days ago

I like how the soft muted “dingy” tones of most of the art works together. I would lose or downplay large areas of pure white (like the mats on Copacabana and Sinatra) or black (like the ornate frame around your grandmother’s art) to soften the overall feel. I would also add more medium to dark wood frames. Based on your inspiration pics, it looks like you are close to achieving the look. And I love it in the dining area – it has all the feels! And while I love the round table would you consider a small square instead which will give you a definite edge on the wall?

Lisa
17 days ago
Reply to  Donna

Ouuh I like all of your ideas Donna!

Melissa
17 days ago

You have a great collection, it just needs some tweaking. The first thing that jumped out to me – the horizontal Row in the middle (the 5 smallish pieces) is too similar in size and almost in a straight line. Of course once you get some of these framed, you’ll automatically have bigger pieces and more varied sizes to work with. Emily of course was spot on in her recs. I think the Copa lady and maybe the heart could live elsewhere ( maybe look good stacked together on a small wall) and my preference is having them grouped tighter. The next thing I see that’s an easy fix- the landscape at top- I would “age” that frame a bit so it’s not so bright. Many ways to accomplish this – but a little watered down brownish paint would do it- wipe on/wipe off to desired effect. As for which wall, I’m not sure (need a reminder of the full room layout). But when I envision it over the sofa, it seems “busy” with all the books in the corner. Have fun with it, you’re off to a great start!

jess
17 days ago
Reply to  Melissa

I came down here to say the same thing. Mixing up the middle row + adding another larger or landscape piece would make a big difference!

Eliot
17 days ago
Reply to  Melissa

I agree about the placement. I think the wall over the sofa would look better with one big piece or a triptych.

Liz
17 days ago

You are definitely on the way! If you can source 2 much larger anchor pieces and nix the teeny tinies, I think you will be 90% there. I’ve also fallen prey to collecting small art (which is typically cheaper and easier to transport) that really doesn’t have much business being hung on a wall — but we only have so many decorative surfaces to put small pieces of art on in a small home! The very small pieces often also have a tendency to look busy when displayed in a group — in such a multi-functional space I’m betting you will want to be able to relax your eye since it sounds like you will be spending the majority of your day in eyeshot. Good luck!!

Remington
17 days ago

I love this so much! I think the overall aesthetic is coming together nicely. Gallery walls are great, you can constantly evolve them.
Two nit-picky things I’d change–the middle of the gallery wall has too many smaller pieces together; I recommend adding another large anchoring piece. Since you only have two landscapes, maybe another landscape to balance the look? You could get an Italian boating/ocean scene for variety.
Some of the pieces have what appear to be cheaper reflective coverings and it stands out (I notice it most in the Jesus piece). I know switching out for glass can be expensive, but I’d recommend it especially on the smaller pieces. Looking forward to seeing the next phase of your gallery wall!

Sarah
17 days ago

I think you’re off to a great start. On the inspiration photos, they all have one piece that breaks the plane on top, bottom and sides (except for the Annie Selkie one on the top edge which bugs me that it doesn’t!). I think that’s what helps give a gallery wall motion and interest, in addition to the art itself. You need to pull the eyes in different directions so you roam over them. I think it’s helpful to use craft paper or the inside of paper grocery bags to just put your block sizes on the wall or floor. Scale first, then tweak so that the color in the art creates movement.

Fran Wing
17 days ago

While I’m with Emily that there aren’t really any rules, I do have a couple of “rules” myself. This one is probably silly, but my years as a graphic artist get the best of me, and when hanging pieces in a group, if I have portraits included I would place them so that they face toward the center rather than the perimeter. Your little Maori guy is looking away – “off the page” so to speak.

Alice
17 days ago
Reply to  Fran Wing

I am pleased to see your comment, Fran, because I noticed that immediately about the Maori guy and wanted to reach in and switch him out with the one on the end of his row.

Vera
17 days ago
Reply to  Fran Wing

Agree!

17 days ago

What hit me immediately is that everything is the same distance apart, and there are no groupings of art by a characteristic, which results in the whole wall looking, as you say, flat. I’d work to group these into “sets” which perform the same function as larger pieces, and create a sort of “islands in the stream” effect. You want the eye to be excited, to move, to be affected by what it sees, vs. simply perceiving the artworks like data in cells in a database.

Roberta Davis
17 days ago

Not having seen the entire space in one view, it’s hard to form an opinion. I’d certainly give Emily’s advice a lot of credence! I agree with her comment that the sizes and orientations should vary more than it is today. And also with the color vs. neutral comment. If you love pieces that don’t end up on that wall, can you find another place for them? Looking forward to seeing the final!

Mary B.
17 days ago

I prefer a gallery wall that doesn’t feel so “rectangular” in nature – so I like some pieces to break out of the rectangular shape (extending up or out to the side to break the planes) , which I think allows for more growth if you find additional pieces you want to add and looks like a more organic collection that grew over time. I think the spacing between the pieces as currently framed feels too big (wide? large? what’s the proper word when describing this!?). Anchoring the gallery wall over the sofa would be easier, but I think you can achieve your Italian restaurant vibe. I like Emily’s suggestion of adding in a sconce into the mix, and maybe something else with an unexpected shape (oval frame, wooden round object, pretty hat? something like that). When I do a gallery wall, I lay it out on the ground, then cut out paper (usually taped together free mailer-ads, ha!) to the size of all of my pieces and start arranging them on the wall to check spacing and look before I start making any holes. I’m sure you all have lots of tips and tricks for easy ways to do… Read more »

Vera
17 days ago
Reply to  Mary B.

Agree with this all, and I do the same thing (even mark the exact nail location on the paper) – super helpful – check out YHL hallway frames

Vicki Williams
17 days ago

I love the idea of it staying where it is. I kind of agree about having a rectangle table. The Copacabana one it so different to the others but i still love it. I keep seeing a dark mat instead of the stark white. I am running into the same problem. Good luck!

Suzanne
17 days ago

Great tips! I loved the breakdown of each piece and the recommendation to choose the frame based on the art not on the space. I also agree that you need one larger piece to anchor the wall. You could also try putting the largest of the pieces in the middle and add the others around it. I usually arrange on the floor and take photos so I can compare layouts. It’s a little different than on the wall, but it gives me an idea of how the pieces work together. I also try for a consistent spacing between pieces. Obviously, with all the sizes this needs to be adjusted at times. For frames, you can do your own float mount, less expensively, by using a frame that has depth (or a shadow is frame) along with foam mounting from a craft store. The key is that the art work needs to be larger than the cutout in the mat. I did this with a couple pieces that had a deckle edge I wanted to show off. I used this frame from Crate&Barrel: https://www.crateandbarrel.com/brushed-brass-picture-frames/f70281 One of the IKEA frames also has depth that would allow for a float mount. Good luck,… Read more »

Suzanne
16 days ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I came across this post I saved years ago that shows how to create a gallery wall that can grow. I like the axis that it uses to guide placement. The post also mentions keeping spacing small, 1-2″.
https://maggieoverbystudios.com/2015/05/20/5-tips-on-hanging-a-growing-gallery-wall/
Also, it is the Ikea Hovsta frame that allows you to frame with artwork multiple ways, including allowing a space (some depth) to do a float mount.

Vera
16 days ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Whoa SUPER helpful link Suzanne, thank you! Just pinned it and I’m sure will refer back many times.

Suzanne
16 days ago
Reply to  Vera

Glad you liked it, Vera. It has some great tips that you don’t typically see. I’m glad I rediscovered it, too.

17 days ago

I think you have some really cool items to get started with. I agree with others that breaking up the small-medium rectangles would make a big difference. A cool clock would be an easy way to get a different shape or a woven/fabric piece. If you have cafes or coffee shops near you that rotate local art, those are my favorite ways to get interesting pieces, though that has slowed down a lot in the past year of course. Toddlers make the best abstract art, so you if you know any of those, you could get a large posterboard or watercolor sheet and have them go to town with watercolor paints in a preselected palette. Can’t wait to see the final reveal!

April
17 days ago

I think you have a lot of great pieces to work with, and I can see a gallery arrangement working on the dining wall where you currently have it. I agree with Emily about most of the framing notes. I also like to float mount pieces with aged or unique edges or that aren’t a standard art print (book pages, playbills, various paper ephemera, collage, mixed media, serigraphs with unique edges around the screen print, etc.), it gives them an artifact kind of look that adds dimension and variety to a gallery wall, when mixed in with matted and full bleed artwork. Copacabana and the small etching would look good with linen matting in shades of white that match the background of the artworks, it’s more expensive but these are smaller pieces, and it would again add dimension/variety to the collection. The spacing could be tighter, especially between smaller pieces, and also agree this would benefit from a larger anchor piece. I personally feel that all of these can work together with the right arrangement/spacing , I don’t see anything specifically standing out as way too different in terms of scale, color or style, and I like the eclectic collected… Read more »

Lucy
17 days ago

I would bring the landscape piece to the center as the anchor, which will work well given its larger size and brass frame. I’d redistribute some of the smaller middle pieces so they fall more randomly, and then hang everything closer together. If you keep the Copacabana print, I’d use a more off-white mat to match the warmer tones in the piece and to keep the mat from standing out so much. Love it in the dining area behind the table.

Amy E Jones
17 days ago

You have some amazing pieces! I love them all. I don’t necessarily agree that you have to stick to a neutral old world vibe and get rid of the colorful ones. If you look at some of your inspiration photos there are colorful mixed with vintage etc. I think what really makes a gallery wall interesting is the variety. I agree some need reframing and that they could be closer together on the wall and grounded by some piece of furniture. But keep the color!

Vera
17 days ago

This is coming together so well, Ryan! I was already in love with the swim art and then saw it’s YOU by your grandma! ❤️😭

Such great advice from Emily and readers! I’ll add/echo, I would
1) make overall shape more like an imperfect hexagon
2) lessen space between frames
3) put larger pieces in the middle
4) move some of the smaller pieces elsewhere, like the bathroom or entry
5) “face” people inward
6) spread out any noticeable colours (and make sure there are at least three of each)
7) spread out types (faces, landscape, etc.)
8) add thin wood frames (light, medium, and dark, with at least two of the light)
9) play on the floor if possible, use YHL newspaper trick to hang

Re: sofa – I think the sofa is so visually heavy that a bunch of frames above it would feel unbalanced. Instead above the sofa I’d do something like Emily B’s huge diy living room art (which I totally copied for above my huge Kivik sectional and looks GREAT)
I absolutely LOVE your Italian bistro vibe! Seriously can’t wait for reveal day!

Greta Howe
17 days ago

Love all the Rita Konig inspo! You’re amazing, Emily. 💞

Josh
17 days ago

Love the blog and have followed for years, but lately, I haven’t felt the same connection. This is great information, but it’s presented in a way that is not concise. With many of us working from home, we are busier than ever. I visit this site to “escape” for a moment, but can only escape for so long. A simple how-to on framing would be much more efficient. Also, I miss the style overviews, how to achieve the look, and the high/low projects. One series that specifically comes to mind is the “Parisian Art Deco” series from a few years ago. It told why it is, how to achieve, and focused on many aspects of the style. It was very clear and informative. I haven’t felt that connection lately. The Farmhouse posts are interesting, much like the Mountain House, but even the Farmhouse doesn’t feel the same. Maybe I’m changing, but I really do miss the EHD of a few years ago. No other designer has captured me the way EHD has. I’ve pulled up posts for friends to reference when they’ve asked a design question and it’s been great. I’ve even had friends say, “Emily said this about that”… Read more »

Emma
16 days ago
Reply to  Josh

This post could really benefit from some graphics, or at the very least annotated photos, to help illustrate the principles they are practicing.

Colin
17 days ago

In my experience the larger the wall upon which you plan to place your gallery wall, the larger the individual pieces of art need to be in order to feel proportional. I think that this is partially why the gallery wall we see in Ryann’s dinning area feels so disjointed; the wall is too large for all the smaller art pieces and thus the art feels haphazard and lost amongst the expanse of the wall. I’m not saying get rid of the art, but I agree with Emily that perhaps the smaller area of wall above the couch would be better spot for the gallery to be arranged.

Sadie
17 days ago

I think you’re just about there. It’s like a big puzzle and working in a program like photoshop or something similar makes it super easy to move the pieces around until you’re ready to move it to the wall. Good luck and have fun with it. 

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Rusty
16 days ago
Reply to  Sadie

Niiiiice work!👍

17 days ago

Okay I actually kind of love it there in the dining room. Feels like a little bistro in Italy that’s been here for like…180 years. But definitely agree on the scale of things. Even if you put half of them in larger frames with bigger mats to differentiate the size, you’d feel better about it I think. But maybe look to add 3-4 larger pieces in general and pull back some of the pieces that don’t feel “on theme”. I’d also take it all the way to the floor…exaggerate the crap out of it and then it’ll be really impactful! My opinion with what people get wrong about gallery walls is they don’t go “all-in” enough…but that’s coming from someone who has a ceiling to floor, wall to wall gallery wall…in their dining room. HAHA Maybe I’m just a one-trick pony. Love ya!

Susan
17 days ago

Great tips and examples. I’m wondering what the Copacabana print would look like with a mat that is one of the dark green colors in the headpiece .

Kelly
17 days ago

I would enlarge your fiance Grandma’s photo. That photo is incredible. And, its going to be your family. Her beautiful smile, her scarf, her cool jacket, the motorcycle, the view… Its so nostalgic. Enlarge it and put it in a simple slick brass or silver frame. Your future mother and father in law will love you for it.

Rusty
16 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

This is a wonderful idea!

Lynn W
17 days ago

Great post and I love a good gallery wall 👍
If it makes sense, you can take out the white mats and spray paint them black….I’ve done that for a few pieces and it works well…great way to re use and not purchase more. Also, floating is fun and I do like to take a special piece, maybe your pencil sketch of the man, float that inside a clear glass frame that is larger, not a lot larger but so that there is space to see your gorgeous wall color between the art and the black frame. Keep the frame simple. So many choices…..it’s going to be great 😊

Joan Renee Stark
16 days ago

Advice—Return the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the thrift store, it is terrible art.
For frames, glass and some with mats go to Hotel Surplus Out in Van Nuys, CA. You can see what they have online and negotiate. I have spray painted frames several times to get the color I want. Also sometimes it is cheaper to buy a ready made frame with glass than to have the glass custom cut. Just use the glass, donate the frame. Try also to buy ready made mats. You can always trim the outside edge smaller. Of course thrift stores are a good source of art, frames and glass.

Nicola O.
16 days ago

Mannnnn I love gallery walls. The important thing is whether you like it, but my first take is 1) basically that whole middle row should just get pulled out. It looks like filler. If you really like most/all of those pieces, I’d run a black ledge across the bottom (safer) or mayyyyybe the middle? with one good chunky piece below to right? Bunch up most of the middle-sized pieces together on the ledge… and 2) agree with Emily to pull everything closer together.

I don’t have strong feelings on most of the framing but love the torso piece — give it some drama! and I don’t like the bright white matt on the Copacabana piece. I’d give it a thinner matt with that tomato red color – it would POP on those green walls, but hopefully not in a MERRY CHRISTMAS IN YOUR FACE way, lol.

16 days ago

Very precious post, learned a lot here. You rock, thanks a lot!

Molly
16 days ago

If you want to leave some of them without a frame perhaps put a backing on them so they loose the flimsy look. Doesn’t need to be anything flash, some thick cardboard. I love the idea of having it in the dining room! I would put the table against the wall, I think it will make the room and be exactly the vibe you were hoping.

Suzanne
16 days ago
Reply to  Molly

Another idea for the frameless frame is map hangers. They are available all over Amazon and Etsy. IKEA also has a version. An affordable alternative for unusual sized artwork (provided it’s paper thick). Here’s one I bought, but they are available all over online if you want a specific wood or color or length.
Dacri Home 18 Inch Wide Magnetic Poster Frame Hanger – 18×24 18×28 18×36 Poster Frame Wood for Picture Canvas Print Scroll Map Wall Hanging (18″/45 cm, Natural Wood) https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07PCHFNSG/

Sarah
16 days ago

I go with that learned in high school yearbook. Place your dominant photo, then secondaries off it, then work the smaller and white space/text around for balance. Never trap white space or text. And what I learned in architecture school, design rules are meant to be broken.

Nina
16 days ago

Oooh I love a lot of the art and frames you have there! I can very much see the Italian restaurant vibe, it looks super cosy and like a GREAT plase to drink some wine and dissect some art 🙂 maybe the table set-up as it is would feel more ‘grounding’ if the gallery wall didn’t go below the table?

Jessica
16 days ago

Could you add a console table to ground the gallery wall in this location? What about having the gallery wall go from floor to ceiling so that it naturally grounds itself? I love your pieces of art. As far as placement of art, it feels off to me because the smaller pieces are mostly in a line through the middle of the larger pieces, so there is nothing anchoring the pieces. Perhaps try picking two of the larger pieces to center the gallery wall and then radiate out a mix of smaller and medium sized pieces? Good luck! You are doing great!

JennyE
16 days ago

I like to put smaller pieces in a tight row to make them seem like a single idea. It helps to cut down on the visual chaos.

Jessica
16 days ago
Reply to  JennyE

That’s a really good point! Another idea would be to group them in a tight square or rectangular shape to mimic the feel of a larger piece.

Suzanne
16 days ago
Reply to  JennyE

This is a greats suggestion. I often group two or three smaller pieces to balance a larger piece. I also do something roughly symmetrical, but that means if I have an 11×14 on one side, I might do two 5x7s on the other. It is more like balancing than symmetry. It takes more practice to go asymmetrical.

R
16 days ago

I love Emily’s advice, although I think the gallery wall can work where it is. I don’t know if it’s outdated advice, but I like to align portrait gazes with their respective locations on a wall. So, if a figure in a portrait looks to the right, place it on the left side of a gallery wall, and vice versa. That way the viewer can follow the portrait gazes through the gallery wall display.

Suzanne
16 days ago
Reply to  R

I also like the gaze of the portraits to face inward toward the grouping.

Sarah
15 days ago

my trick with gallery walls, which I picked up from PowerPoint trainings is to always have one edge of each frame line up somehow with the edge of another frame adjacent to it. I also put things at similar distances apart. For example, hang one picture and then line the top of your next one up with the top of the first one, then hang one above the second one so the right edges are aligned and so the gap between them is the same-ish as with the first two. Think of the gap as a negative space frame that you want to keep tidy. For smaller images, group a few together so their outer edges give you the feel of one large frame- even if it’s only 2 sides that are exactly aligned. When I get to the edges or if I have a weird gap I break my rule and may align something on-center or scoot a picture down an inch or two from being aligned with its neighbor, which can help resolve the edge of the arrangement if you have more wall than pictures.

15 days ago

Also, I have ordered frames from Frame USA. They have simple wood frames that you could keep or spray paint. I have in the past- done all my own frames (found thrifted etc) and taken a few in to have matted. It’s much cheaper when you have the frame already and developing a relationship with a framer (and having their help picking a mat or float is great for later when you really neat custom work done).

Katie
15 days ago

Ryann, this is going in such a fun direction! I am definitely getting Italian restaurant vibes, and I love the wall color. Hard to form an opinion about the placement of the gallery wall within the apartment without more info, but I will say that the since sofa already has the books/magazines displayed below the coffee table, a gallery wall might feel too busy. I think one or two larger pieces over the couch would be better. For the gallery wall itself, I will echo what some have said about tightening the spacing, adding a large anchor piece, and editing the selection a bit. I don’t mean to get rid of them (there’s so much good stuff here!), but I wonder if some of the smaller pieces could be styled throughout your space: layered in front of books on your bookshelf, or styled onto surfaces elsewhere in this room or in the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc. The bright white of the Copacabana and Frank Sinatra mats are standing out to me. You might be able to spray paint them slightly darker to help it blend with the others better. Otherwise, you can get custom mats cut at Michael’s for less… Read more »

14 days ago

Totally agree with Em on the ‘too many smalls’, but disagree about the frame on the swimsuit art – I love it. But I’m no expert. I also like the idea of the table closer to the wall, it really feels like a romantic restaurant moment with the art. Too bad there’s no wait staff to accompany it. 🙂 Typically I do like a mix of old world and modern but because of the ‘too many smalls’ problem splitting it into two groupings might be a good solution plus then you (if you have the budget) could add a larger piece to ground each grouping. I love that she’s sharing pieces from her storehouse. That’s so sweet!

Patricia
12 days ago

I like your Copacabana piece for kitchen or bathroom. Where it would be the special piece.

Heidi
10 days ago

I was taught in ID school to have two sides of a gallery wall be straight. I like the left and bottom to be straight, like an “L”, but any combo could work.

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