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How To Actually Make A Gallery Wall: Our No-Fail Formula We Use Every Time (+ our favorite original art resources)

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from: a budget friendly living and dining room

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?

photo by geneieve garruppo | from: a 100 year old barn makeover

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

from: jess’ small space makeover takeover

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.
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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

from: a modern and organic dining room makeover

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.

from: how to make your smallest room, the coziest room in your house

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

photo: tessa neustadt | from: sara’s home office reveal

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.

1. “Waves No. 2” Art Print | 2. Untitled Geo Wall Art | 3. “Roast Chicken” Print | 4. “Santa Cesarea Terme II” Art Print | 5. Custom Large Scale Print | 6. Letter Pressed City Map

IF YOUR BIGGEST PIECE IS #1, THEN YOUR NEXT BIGGEST PIECE IS #2

from: emily’s master bedroom update

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)

photo: zeke ruelas | from: oh joy’s studio – the living room

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.

from: a budget friendly living and dining room

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

photo: zeke ruelas | from: a moody mid-century office

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)

photo: tessa neustadt | from: sara’s home office reveal

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

from: a budget friendly living and dining room

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

from: how we designed our super kid friendly family room

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.

from: sara gives her momma’s living room a makeover

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.

from: julie’s bedroom makeover takeover reveal

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:

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

INSPO:

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

Fin Mark

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Molly H

Why do gallery walls rarely include round pieces?

Have a fairly large canvas painting of a single overhead image of a flower (think repeating rounds of petals in graduating shades of same color) that is stunning. This round flower is on a square canvas. Also have two matching rounds of off white punched metal discs I planned to use on both sides to balance. They are slightly smaller than the flower. Wanted to do a gallery wall and add more, probably square items, but not sure if I should stop there. Thoughts?

Jessica

If you put the round discs on either side of the flower, it’ll look like you’re trying to create a triptych instead of a gallery wall (which I think is actually harder to pull off). I like the thought of taking Sara’s advice and putting your matching items together, and then you’d fill in the leftover space with other things.

Elisabeth

I agree with Jessica, I don’t think you want symmetry with a gallery wall. But your art pieces sound stunning!

Helen

I asked for it and I got it! Just like that! Magic. Thank you for this amazing guide and all the resources.

Jessica

I’m generally camp “wing-it”, since I got a lot of practice hanging things when I worked at an auction house. Definitely landed on most of your same rules, too, which is interesting! One time I had to fill a 22’x15′ wall with 50 paintings and prints, which took 7 hours. Not the kind of thing you lay out in advance 😛 But I think with gallery walls you have to be ok with thinking “hm, I should have placed that one half an inch to the left” and just letting it be, or you’ll never be done!!

Leila

My walls have a dado rail and a picture rail, and I notice none of your examples do – is this because the cut-off of the rails is too narrow to make a nice gallery wall?
Also, do gallery walls always look nicer anchored by a sofa or sideboard or something wide?

Olivia

Thank you for this post!
It’s always reassuring when I was naturally doing some of these things without knowing it was a tip!
But eyeballing does lead to extra holes in the wall. I am definitely a “just go for it” person.
Sometimes it feels like EHD is reading my mind and knows exactly what I am currently struggling with. Bravo!

Emily (not Henderson)

Any tips for a stair gallery wall? We have a huge triangular shaped section of wall at our stair case – awkward because it’s so huge but also because you also only see there whole thing when you’re at the top or bottom of the steps. There size and shape mean I can’t really map it out on the ground before I hang everything.
Another art question – do you think you should put art on any wall surface large enough to hold something, or just pick a few spots in any given room? Tips for coordinating different pieces within a room that aren’t adjacent to each other? Thanks!

Erin Perkins

Truth be told, we have 2 gallery walls in our house, and both are only half way done. The main reason is because I want to curate the art as it comes together. so they’ve both been put together, and I can easily envision what sizes of art I need to buy as I add them on to the other half.

Rusty

This is so well explained! Great resources and all. Ive read gallery wall tips n tricks on this blog for years and this one kind of conne ts all the dots to the extent that you inspired me.
Only issue is, most homes in Western Australia have brick walls, both external and internal, so hammering in nails is a non-event. All holes need to be drilled and since we have 100 year old fancy plaster finished walls in all rooms except for the bedrooms, well … gallery wall not gonna happen here.
BUT, I’m saving this post for my future self in my future house! Ha! It’s THAT good, Sara. 🤗

Elisabeth

We used the velcro 3M Command Strips to hang art in my son’s bedroom, as he likes to switch things out often. They’re holding up wonderfully — even heavier framed art hasn’t budged. They may work for you, too!

Alice

Good to know! I bought some but I was afraid that they wouldn’t hold up since most of my pieces are framed.

Rusty

Ah, yes. I hung a mozaiced plant pot saucer on one of those, on the fancy bumpy plaster and fastidiously followed directions and two nights later, down it came and smashed. On flat plaster, they prob work fine.

Sarah M.

Am I the only one that thinks gallery walls are ‘over’? I’d love to see a new take on this.

Hey Ladies! My favorite gallery wall ever featured here was in Arlyn’s dining room! Oh, and I just wanted to give a heads up that your Pinterest-worthy diagram has a typo on the 7th tip.

The creativity that your team has shown since the pandemic started has been unmatched. I’m sure that you’re ready to go back to normal, but there has been so many inspiring yet relatable posts, and I hope you’ll consider keeping some of that scrappy-ness in the future. Keep up the great work!

Dee

I second this! The flavor of EHD posts since the pandemic has been so much more relatable. Kudos for all the creativity the team is showing. The content is phenomenal! Thank you!

One request – please do a post on kid/pet friendly rug options with details on how to clean different kinds of rug materials and the lifetime maintenance costs.

How to balance furniture/space appropriate rug sizes with flexibility and cost effectiveness of washing/dry cleaning on a regular basis?

Since the pandemic I, (and I am sure many others), have become very particular about cleanliness and need to make sure large floor coverings in high traffic areas are not germ incubators.

Victoria

Is two gallery walls in one room too much? My living room has so much blank wall space! I want to place art around my TV and the opposing wall. I originally had two large scale prints for that wall, but there’s a radiator at the base that warped one, so I’m thinking I need to swap out the frame for some objects/wall hangings…unless canvas prints work above radiators? Help!

Kristina

This is amazing information!! What do you think about a gallery wall around a tv thats not mounted to the wall but sitting on a console? I was considering doing mostly black and white art/photography around it but wasn’t sure… Thank you so much!

Krista

I come from a family that has a lot artistic talent (it unfortunately did not get passed down to me). Apparently my family had a whole art studio in Europe where artists would flock to learn (like back in the 1800s). My grandfather had more paintings than he knew what to do with and was giving them away for years. My two favorite stories about them is my great grandmother immigrating through Ellis Island and they didn’t believe she was an artist so she painted a scene of the New York Harbor. Another is that her father, my great-great grandfather, escaped Berlin during World War II. His townhouse was burned to the ground and his painting were destroyed. He recreated one of them by memory, which my Dad had for a while but my aunt has now. We actually found prints of the original house with the original painting that it was based on. Anyway, I had a bunch and even decorated my college apartments with them. When my grandfather passed he still had hundreds in his garage and closets so we all took ones that we loved. I have now used them throughout my house. Now that I am… Read more »

So fun! This is the first breakdown of gallery walls that actually made sense/didn’t intimidate me. Thanks!!

Kristin

Daily reader here for years; so tired of reading about the gallery wall. Can we move on?

Alice

Thank you! We’ve been in our new home for nearly a year and I need to gather the courage to put up my art. I have a lot of great pieces but they are in boxes or on the floor leaning up against the walls. Hopefully this will give me the motivation to get it up on the walls!

Nancy

I have an open concept living and dining room. There is one continuous wall that both rooms share. Is it possible to have a gallery wall in the living room portion of the wall without the dining room portion of the wall looking empty? Help!

Sigrid

Wow! An actually helpful guide on how to do a gallery wall – and with some new practical tips I hadn’t seen before. Thank you!

Lauren

I have a gallery-wall-adjacent conundrum that I would love some EHD-community feedback on.

My upstairs hallway is currently a 14-ft stretch of bare wall screaming for adornment. The problem is it’s *just* wide enough that it feels spacious in its current state, but the moment I hung the first framed print it suddenly felt VERY cramped. I even found myself leaning away from the wall when I walked by, as though I was going to bump into something. Crazy how much one-inch of framing pushing into the width of the hallway makes such a significant difference.

So now I’m trying to think of flat decor solutions. I’ve debated hanging art/prints directly onto the wall, unframed. But in my mind it feels very…I dunno, college dorm room? But perhaps I’m writing that option off prematurely. Any suggestions??

Thank you! This is exactly what I needed, I always feel so lost putting a gallery wall together.

This is exactly what I needed. Thanks Emily Henderson

Michelle Huisinga

By far the best gallery walls I have seen, and trust me, I have been Googling the heck out of them. You guys definitely get it right. Thank you!

Jill

Hi! I was wondering where Jess got her black clips for her living room gallery wall (holding the Chagall and Jenna Bauer). I love the way they look and have a great piece that I can use them with! Thanks!

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