How to Make the Perfect Gallery Wall

Erica Gabriel

Publication date: 06/01/2021

A Step-by-Step Guide

Possibly one of the most cost-effective yet awe-inspiring ways to add visual appeal to a blank wall is a gallery wall. It doesn’t have to be all square photo prints for the wall; filling your walls with unique and lively pieces doesn’t require a big budget or worldly art experience.

You can use your gallery wall to showcase memories and art or simply bring the room together. All that’s required is to pick pieces that elicit an emotional response.

Creating the perfect gallery wall takes time and a bit of patience. You don’t want to jump in and start smashing holes in your walls without first knowing where everything will go.

If you’re unsure how to get started, we have outlined a step-by-step guide on curating and executing your own home gallery wall.

Assemble the Art

Decide on what artwork you want to incorporate into the final design. Depending on how you want to approach the situation (fun, thematic, professional), sticking to a color palette can help. Basic square photo prints for a wall gallery work very well. Try to keep your pieces similar in tone and intensity, including the size and theme.

For a more “work in progress” look, options are more open as you add wall prints over time. You can enjoy the whole thing, adding personal art and photos. You might even consider adding mirrors to make the entire space feel larger.

The frames should also match the style and direction you’ve chosen. It’s best to begin with no more than three styles of frames before branching out. In some cases, like with canvas, the images can be left unframed to create a more visually appealing approach. If you have ample space to work with more pieces, you can then add different frames into the mix.

Complete the Layout Beforehand

Once you’ve established a theme and have all pictures, wall prints, and art framed, lay them on the floor, and take a snapshot of the final arrangement. You can easily refer to your snapshot when hanging the art on the wall, which may be easier than relying on your memory. Basic square photo prints for a wall gallery make this step simpler.

Next, you can start measuring where the frames will be situated on the wall. Ensure your centerpiece begins a minimum of six feet from the floor. Once it is in place, you can build everything else around it.

Leave approximately one to five inches of space between frames. Leaving too much or too little space makes the entire arrangement look sloppy.

Cut painter’s tape into the amount of space you desire as an alternative to a ruler or measuring tape. You can easily pull down the strips as items are hung. This method is less of a hassle in comparison to using rulers and measuring tapes. It may be best if you use a level to hang some of the frames to avoid a crooked gallery. If you plan to have all of your art situated identically, use a level on at least the first couple of frames.

Hang the Pieces

When it comes to hanging, we suggest beginning in one of two ways. Place your largest pieces first and build around them, or start building from the bottom up.

If your style leads more towards the former and you have a smaller collection, try placing the largest piece in one of the four outer corners of the gallery wall. For a more extensive collection, you can use it to draw focus by placing it just off-center, in the middle of the gallery wall.

When attempting the latter design choice, especially when creating it just above the sofa, build from the lowest row first approximately six inches above the back edge. Doing so will allow you to expand the gallery upward without running into space issues.

Keep Things Interesting

Keep your gallery wall fresh and new by adding a mix of vertical and horizontal pieces. Take the largest piece and place a smaller one next to it. For example, if your largest piece is vertical, place a smaller horizontal piece, either centered or bottom-aligned, to its side. Doing so will allow you to build outward or inward from the larger piece and expand the gallery.

Mixing it up can include adding a photo strip on a clip, a board painting, a flag or textile, or something sculptural. A large misshapen (i.e., oval) canvas can give the eye a visual break from a consistent pattern.

Make It Personal

Purchasing fine art can get expensive, so printing photos for a wall gallery is a more cost-effective alternative. Adding personal items, such as a child’s drawing, an old photo, or even collectibles, can add a personal touch to any room.

Art is subjective, meaning that anything can be considered art. You don’t have to rely on basic square photo prints for the wall. Framed tickets from a first movie date, a favorite poem, and autographed memorabilia can count as art.

We have five standard and easy-to-assemble wall gallery styles to keep in mind. One of these is sure to fit your personal style and fill up that bare wall. An art gallery wall connects the many dimensions of who you are—from wedding to birthday photos—into a cohesive whole. With the following styles, you can make your wall visually pop.

The Classic

A classic never goes out of style. This arrangement requires a grouping of five to ten framed pieces placed organically on the wall. The art can all have different sizes, styles, and dimensions to make them appear as a collection. The Classic is one of the best styles when starting your wall gallery, and you know exactly where you want it to go.

The Column

Vertically stack four to six frames on a narrow wall beside a door or window. The gallery is perfect for filling those tight, empty spaces with vibrant memories.

The Grid

An arrangement of six to twelve identically-sized frames is perfect when you want to precisely fill the opening above a couch, headboard, or dining room table.

Select one classic frame style for a sleek, uniform look, and consider a central theme, such as wedding, family, or travel photos, for your grid.

The Ledge

The ledge style consists of a grouping of three to five framed pieces. The pieces are stacked on a shallow wall shelf in a way that leans against one another. You can mix the sizes to keep the gallery looking multidimensional. We recommend this to those who regularly switch up their home decor.

The Salon

This style arrangement works its way from the floor to the ceiling. The bulk of the art consists of small pieces collected over time and is perfect for filling in empty alcoves or nooks in your home. It’s best to keep the entire element cohesive with the art’s frames, space, and tones.

What’s your favorite way to design a gallery wall? Everyone’s style preferences will differ, but there are so many beautiful options out there to experiment with. Feel free to play around.

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