So, you want to create a gallery wall but where to start? I get so many comments and questions about the gallery wall in my apartment that I thought I’d share my tips and tricks for starting a gallery wall. I love gallery walls so much that I actually have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them! If you’re considering creating a gallery wall, I recommend pinning an image from this post to a design board you have so you can come back and reference it. Here’s what you need and what you need to know to make a really wonderful gallery wall:
1. A Collection of Art
2. A Variety of Frames
6. Tape Measure
7. Pencil & Erasure
1. Collect & Curate: Collecting art is the most fun and personal part of creating a gallery wall. An important thing to remember is that art doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve found pieces of art at flee markets and in design boutiques that sell lovely little paintings by local artists (like the two unframed paintings in my gallery – I got them in Solana Beach at SOLO). My favorite way to collect art is to let my travels inspire my collection. I always try to pick up a little painting or print from a place I travel to often, a place that is meaningful to me, or a place I instantly fell in love with. To name a few, I have paintings from Boulder (where I went to college), Sea Island (where my grandparents lived and I’ve traveled to all my life), and Del Mar (where I spent a large part of my childhood summers). I also really like the look of mixing paintings with prints and photographs. Many of the most successful gallery walls mix art mediums and frame designs. I shop for prints and photographs online at Sugar Paper, Rifle Paper Co., SS Print Shop, Gray Malin, One Kings Lane (paintings, photographs, posters), Lulu & Georgia, and Minted. Let your personality shine through and stick to colors and themes you like. A few ideas are to have one main color run through the whole wall, to focus on bright colors, pastels, neutrals, or blacks and whites, or to focus on a theme like florals. A last key piece to the puzzle is to consider the size of your art. Make sure your art and frames vary in size so that the wall will be interesting to the eye and will break up naturally. An often recommended tip is to anchor your gallery wall around one larger piece that holds the whole wall together. However, I like when that piece is off center so that it isn’t the only piece to catch your eye.
2. Frame Your Collection: Sometimes you might buy art that already comes in a frame you love, which is great and easy. However, most of the time you will have to frame the art yourself. A tip is to stick to 2-3 different colors for your frames so that your gallery wall will have a cohesive feel. From there, you can mix and match the frames within your frame color wheel in order to best match each piece of art. My wall has lots of gold frames because I always gravitate toward golds. Even though my gallery wall has predominately gold frames, it still looks interesting because the frames themselves are so different. I sprinkled in a few unframed pieces of art too which can be daring but I think it looks effortless and great. You can get frames anywhere from Anthropologie to Target to framing stores like Fast Frame.
3. Lay It Out & Make Templates: Once you have your art framed, you’re ready to get it up on your wall. I recommend finding a floor space that is around the same size as the wall space you are going to use (measure your wall space and your floor space so they match). Then, lay your art on the floor and play around with it until you have a layout that suits you. Don’t forget to keep a few inches between each piece and remember that you can mix up how much space you leave between different pieces. Snap a few photos of your layout to have as a reference. Next, make templates for each piece of art by tracing the frames on pieces of paper and cutting them out. After this, you can lightly tape your templates to the wall to match the layout you created on the floor (I labeled my templates to keep them all straight as a few were a similar size). If you are feeling bold and brave you can skip the template step and just rely on the photos you took to guide you.
4. Hang It Up: I recommend starting by hanging your largest piece (slightly off center like I mentioned before) or a piece in the center if you don’t have one large anchor piece and then building off around it. It is much easier to build out than to build in because you have the freedom and room to tweak your spacing more easily. I highly recommend inviting a friend over for a glass of wine during this step because it is very helpful to have someone across the room guiding you while you nail, hammer, and hang.
5. Admire Your Gallery! You’re all finished so step back and take a breath. It’s time to admire all the beautiful art you’ve collected. I hope your gallery wall makes your home feel like your space because there is no better way to let your taste shine through!
Photography by Monica Wang