7 Tips For Creating The Perfect Gallery Wall
At this point, it’s fairly evident what people like most about our home: the gallery wall. Most of our features, likes, and follows have all come from shots of varying angles of our living room’s miniature art museum. Not that social media approval is everything, but it's certainly giving us the endorsing nod we all sometimes need. I can’t fault these folks, either- completing an entire wall with a mismatched assortment of art and frames and objects that comes together as a stunning, curated display has always been a dream of mine- and still one I haven’t fully realized. In my previous house, I spent almost three years growing a collection of pieces until we transferred them to Hugh’s home and rearranged for the new space accordingly. Since then, we’ve voraciously thrifted, antiqued, and online-shopped until we’re almost wall-to-wall. In that time, we’ve both learned a few things about creating a seamless gallery wall. Here are our top seven tips we have for all of you that are keen on taking this journey.
Tip 1: You Can Have A Theme, Or No Theme At All. It’s Up To You.
I’ll be honest, it might seem like a few of the following points contradict one another. Perhaps they do, but that doesn’t mean either is wrong. A gallery wall is subjective, and as a collection, there is quite possibly no better way to express all of your tastes in a coherent and aesthetically-pleasing way. Do you like simplicity and minimalism? You can achieve this with utilizing the same finish on each frame, with similarly-themed work. These types of gallery walls are generally easier to plan, as you know the pieces and respective dimensions you’re working with, rather than trying to fill a wall with an indeterminate amount of objects as you go. The downside, however, is that you are (quite literally) boxed in. There isn’t any room for error or guesstimation, so precision is key.
If you’re a Type A individual, this could be the route for you. I would tend to identify with this group as well, yet nevertheless, our approach has been wholly different. We’ve swapped and rearranged as our wall has expanded. Our “vibe”, if you will, is more eclectic in nature. There are a lot of Victorian-era prints, photographs of Philadelphia, antique knittings, and so on. Frames range from varying wood tones to gold or black, both simple and floral. I’ve found that this allows us more freedom. If I like the frame, the content matters less. Or if there’s a print I just need to have, the frame instead takes a back seat. It almost gives us an old speakeasy, parlor bar type of wall decor. With this style, you also have the liberty of not only including art and photographs, but other sculptural pieces as well. To reiterate, it’s only your choice in the end. Go with what feels best.
Tip 2: Think About The Other Decor & Finishes In Your Home
This is kind of an addition to to the first point. Consider the overall “theme” present in your house currently. If your home was a genre, what would it be? Is it a modern new-build, or an older home? Either of these could affect your gallery wall content choices as you feel out the space. Are there other metal or wood finishes adjacent to where your gallery wall is going to live? Do you have gold or brass hardware in your kitchen? Do you have a simple, colonial fireplace? We don’t insist on being matchy-matchy, but having similar textures, colors, and patterns throughout your home will create a subtle flow and consistency. Our first floor is an open plan with no dining room- our living room runs straight into the kitchen. We redid our kitchen cabinet colors and hardware this past Spring (a DIY post will be coming on that relatively soon) and chose a brushed brass finish that is similar to many of our antique frames. And even more recently, we added in a traditional ceiling medallion with a lacy and floral design- also similar to our gallery wall. We even repainted our chandelier- swapping the black for a gold-brass. All in all, I suggest taking a discerning look around. Acknowledging the other features of your home will result in a design more pleasing to the eye.
Tip 3: Shapes Are Important
We’ve talked a lot about frame colors and textures and the content of each piece of art, but we haven’t talked about the shape. If you’re taking the eclectic route, remember: not everything has to be a square or a rectangle. Circles, ovals, and hexagonal shapes create great contrast to your more standard shapes. Especially if you are covering a large space with a high quantity of pieces, variation is important. In all walks of life, diversity is key. We have no choice but to Stan.
Tip 4: Plan A Tentative Layout
The most obvious step in any design choice: some sort of plan is always required. Small or large, I don’t recommend winging it with your wall. It’s easier to rearrange chairs than it is art, especially when hammers and nails are involved. But I’ll get to that in the next point. By this step, you should have an idea of what your “lewk" is going to be- perhaps you even have a few pieces already picked out. As far as a plan goes, there are a few ways you can go about this. You can draw the shape of each frame on a piece of paper (representing your blank wall) with pencil, and erase and rework as needed. If you’re not an ~artist~, you can cut out a piece of paper in the shape of each frame, and move around each cutout until you have a layout you’re satisfied with. This is an approach we took with the mirror wall in our master bedroom. However, both of these approaches take away the art itself. If you need to see things side by side, try creating a layout with your collection on the floor. This way you’re able to see each frame or object side by side, and move them about nail-free.
Tip 5: It’s Okay To Rearrange
Okay, yes- you should have an idea or a plan or a layout. Everyone says so. I literally just said so as well. But sometimes, in the end, you won’t know until ~you know~. Even if you’ve laid everything out perfectly on your floor, measured out an equidistant space between each piece, something still might really bug you when it’s actually on the wall. You won’t always know why. You won’t always know how to fix it. This irking itch comes into play in high dosages if you take the eclectic approach. And I will admit, I’ve experienced this pain many a time. But there is a remedy for this: just rearrange. I know, the nail is in the wall already. There’s a hole. Fortunately for you, it’s not a death sentence. Patching and painting can be annoying, but it isn’t black magic (I sort of wish it was though, tbh). But if you’re strategic enough, the next piece you put up can cover up these unfortunate mishaps as if they’ve never happened. Once you’ve taken the plunge, don’t stress- the hardest part is already done, which leads me to my next point.
Tip 6: Just Do It
Nike has amassed a fortune greater than Smaug the Dragon’s with this simple slogan, so I guess they’re on to something. I’ve had art sit on my bedroom floor for months at a time because I wasn’t yet ready to take the plunge and hang it up. In this sense, don’t be like me. Unless you’re going for a particular look with frames on the floor, which can be quite nice if done correctly. But this isn’t that look- this is a gallery wall. At some point, your precious painting will have to be put on the wall. Like I’ve said, rearranging is okay. A hole is an easy fix. Don’t be afraid! It will be worth it. When your friends come over for a drink on a Friday night and their jaws drop at your expertly-executed mimi-museum, you’ll know it to be true.
(Source: Sandra Rojo)
Tip 7: Let It Sit
So you’ve got everything on the wall and it’s more or less done. But something still seems off. My advice: leave it alone for a minute. And by a minute, I mean a few hours- or a day. Walk away and come back. Have a drink to celebrate your hard work. Does it really bother you if one frame is two inches from its neighbor while the rest are two and a half inches away? Are your eyes just playing tricks on you? I’m a victim to my own psyche sometimes, and it’s not uncommon for others to experience this. It can be overwhelming. Hugh has also experienced the frustration in over-scrutinizing your own work when we tried to perfectly align the wallpaper in our office. There will always be little inconsistencies, even if you take the measured and symmetrical approach. I guarantee that if you walk away and reexamine with fresh eyes, the majority of these complaints will dissipate as if they never existed. And hey, if not- refer to tip #5.
I could go on and on about gallery walls. They’re one of my passions. There are definitely better and more monetarily-beneficial things to be passionate about, but alas, this is who I am. If you decide to take the gallery wall journey as well, I salute you. In my opinion, if that matters to you, there really isn’t a better statement your home can make, and one made without using a single word.