Gallery walls, like hardwood floors or marble accents, are timeless and will never go out of style. But pulling a gallery wall of your own together might feel a little daunting at first. Art can be expensive, and curating personal items/photos can take a decent amount of time. But here at EHD we’ve got the gallery wall formula pretty dialed in. We pull them together for projects all the time, and several of us have them in our own homes. So how do we pull together a gallery wall?
Guess what? I just wrote a post all about it, AND IT’S THIS POST. So, keep reading. I’m going to walk you through all the elements of a successful gallery wall, PLUS sprinkle in a few round-ups to help you on your way.
For those of your who want to skip the novel and dive straight into the recipe, here you go. This is our fool proof, step by step, gallery wall formula:
But now, if you want to sit back, drink your coffee, and chat a little more in depth about the gallery wall process, come with me . . . .
FIRST, DON’T GET ALL HOLE-Y – LAY OUT YOUR GALLERY WALL BEFORE YOU HANG IT
Before we jump into the “whats” of a gallery wall, let me just give you a really quick “how” – How not to smash a bunch of holes in your wall.
- Measure out the amount of space you want your gallery wall to fill
- tape off a box that size on your floor (or, if you have access to it, a few strips of that wide kid’s art paper that comes in the rolls, taped together)
- Lay out all your pieces within that area. Then you can play around with all the art placement for as long as you like, moving things around with no fear of wall damage. And you can make sure your art all looks good together. Emily has a great IGTV showing you how she does it.
Try and keep the space between all your pieces around 3 inches apart. That way things don't get crowded.
CREATE A COHESIVE COLOR PALETTE FOR A PULLED TOGETHER LOOK
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and if you prefer to just keep things personal and fun don’t worry about it. But if you’d like it to look a little more curated then sticking to a color palette can help. Try and keep your pieces feeling similar in tone and intensity. For example, in that vintage painting gallery wall above the colors were neutrals, blues, and hits of gold.
Once you’ve got your “floor layout” locked down, snap a phone photo for reference and start transferring pieces up to your wall. You can do this by measuring if you’re dedicated, or you can just wing it like an impatient person *cough me cough*. And if you’re able to score that giant paper template, you can just tape that up directly on the wall, 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 in!
Ok, now here are the nitty-gritty details on how to make your gallery wall look professionally put together . . . .
GO BIG – START WITH SOMETHING LARGE AND IN CHARGE TO ANCHOR THE WHOLE COLLECTION
Start by placing your biggest pieces first, and build around them. I usually like to place my biggest piece in one of the four outer corners of a gallery wall if it’s a smaller collection, or just off center, but towards the middle, if it’s a larger collection. This will be your jumping point for placing all your other pieces. Why off center? So your eye travels around the gallery wall, rather than slamming straight to the middle of it.
IF YOUR BIGGEST PIECE IS #1, THEN YOUR NEXT BIGGEST PIECE IS #2
Try placing your second biggest piece diagonally from your biggest piece – whether that’s right next door or on the opposite side of the wall. Now you just need to fill in a little bit of empty space between and around them. YOU’RE PRACTICALLY DONE.
MIX YOUR HORIZONTALS & VERTICALS (AND GIVE PAIRS A TRY)
To keep your gallery wall feeling interesting you’re going to want to have a good mix of vertical and horizontal pieces. If your largest pieces are horizontal, try placing a smaller vertical piece next to it (centered or bottom aligned), and vice versa. This is a good way to start moving inwards from your larger pieces.
Creating grids within your gallery wall by putting a mini collection of 2, 3, or 4 pieces together is like gallery wall inception. It’s also pretty cool, and can look very pulled together.
1. Virginia Landscape Oil Painting | 2. Original Painted Wood Blocks | 3. “Pink Still Life” Oil Painting | 4. Original Mixed Media Piece | 5. “Polo Team” Pen Drawing | 6. Vintage Oil Portrait | 7. Hand Drawn Ellipse Art | 8. “Adelante 51” Mixed Media On Paper | 9. Original Charcoal Figure Drawing
WHILE WE’RE AT IT, DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO STICK TO ONE TYPE OF FRAME – MIX IT UP
The larger the space, and the more pieces you have, the more frame styles you can mix in. If you’re worried about your gallery wall getting too chaotic or eclectic then I suggest starting with three frame styles and seeing how you feel. You could go with a nice clean option – white frames, black frames, and a wood option. Or start with two modern frames (like a simple black or white and a simple dark or light wood), and then bring in one more ornate frame style. Maybe a pop of gold, for example.
1. “The Face Mask” Framed Print| 2. “Motion Study No. 3” Print | 3. “Yellow Bather” Print | 4. “Organdy” Framed Print | 5. “Young Italian Woman At A Table” Print | 6. “Pavanes” Framed Print | 7. “Married To The Sea” Print | 8. “Selfless” Framed Print | 9. “In This Heat” Print
DON’T BE SUCH A SQUARE – NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE FRAMED (OR SQUARE)
Sometimes mixing in a photo strip on a clip, a board painting, a flag or textile, or something sculptural like a ceramic piece can shake up a gallery wall. Don’t feel like you have to put everything in a frame. And a round piece, like an oval canvas, or an embroidery still in its hoop, can give your eye a visual break from the grid like pattern a gallery wall can easily turn into.
1. Vintage Flag | 2. Carnation Embroidery | 3. Pastel Ceramic Wall Hanging | 4. Clay Wall Hanging | 5. Wooden Lion Head | 6. “Sunset” Round Wood Art | 7. “Rise and Fall” Pennant Flag | 8. Woven Llama Wall Hanging | 9. Half Circle Wall Hanging
WHEN IN DOUBT, FLOAT MOUNT
Anything can look instantly elevated if it’s float mounted – a polaroid, a ticket stub, a stamp, a key. Just about anything. And luckily float mounting is easier than every before. You can either send in your piece/item to a framing service (like Framebridge) OR order a few shadowbox frames from Ikea, and float mount the item yourself using a few foam adhesive stickers from the scrapbook aisle and some matte board or card stock.
ADD SOMETHING PERSONAL – ANYTHING CAN BE ART
Art can be expensive, so digital prints are totally fair game and offer a great, affordable way to bring in art while also supporting independent artists. But only having digitally printed art can make your gallery wall feel a bit more “straight out of a catalogue” than you might like. So be sure to include a few personal items! A drawing from a friend, or an old photo of your grandma from when she was your age. BTW a Polaroid printer is a great way to get a personal photo off your phone and onto your wall in a cute way.
And remember, anything can be art! A cocktail napkin from a first date, an ultrasound, even your vows (Emily and Brian framed their vows and it’s super cute). Anything.
1. Polaroid Camera | 2. Horizontal Polaroid Frame | 3. Vertical Polaroid Frame | 4. Magnetic Poster Hanger | 5. Instant Polaroid Printer | 6. Custom Framing | 7. Ultra-Thick Photo Prints | 8. Custom Modern Wall Calendar | 9. Custom Framed Instagram Prints
Lastly, have fun with it. Putting up a gallery wall can feel daunting, but once it’s up it’s incredibly satisfying.
And now, if you’re more of an auditory learner, let’s send it to Emily and Orlando for a quick final overview:
OK, that’s it for this post. But in case you want more gallery wall inspo, check out all of these resources:
How to Hang Art Correctly | Affordable Large Scale Art & How To Get It In Your Home | Top 5 Most Affordable Online Art Resources | The Guide to a Well Hung Gallery Wall | The 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Try to Hang That Gallery Wall | Best Online Art Resources | Design Mistakes: Generic Art | 15 Ideas for Hanging Art We Got From You Guys | Stylist Hack: 7 Unexpected Places I Like To Hang Art (To Make Your House Look Unique) | Is This The New Gallery Wall (AKA Gallery Wall 2.0)? | Think Outside the Frame: Wall Hangings Are the Cure for Your Boring Walls | How We Shoot, Edit and Hang Family Photos With Framebridge | How To Choose, Frame And Hang An Art Collection | DESIGN MISTAKE: Different Walls, Same Art Configurations (AKA It’s Time To Bring Life To Your Walls)
Griffith Park Living Room Reveal | Silver Lake Hills Living Room Reveal | Moody Mid Century Home Office | Arlyn’s Moody Dining Room Reveal | Sara’s Office Reveal | Brady’s Kitchen Reveal | Jess’ Living Room Reveal | Portland Reveal: The 5 Design Elements Every Awesome “Big Kid” Playroom Needs | Mountain House Reveal: How We Designed Our Super Kid-Friendly Family Room | Sara’s TV Room Reveal | Cup of Jo Makeover: The Living/Dining Room | The Curbly Family Dining Room Makeover | Oh Joy’s Studio: The ‘Living Room’ | A 120 year old Barn Makeover with The Frame TV
Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: A Budget-Friendly Living and Dining Room