Aug 30, 20205 min
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Gallery walls look strikingly stylish and are a chic way to infuse color and personality into a living space. Creating a gallery wall allows you to incorporate all the things you've collected over the years to tell a unique story. They add symmetry and organization to otherwise empty walls, fully inhabiting all aspects of a room in a dynamic way.
My gallery wall is the focal point in my living room. It's the first thing guests notice and will look at when they come in. It makes for great conversation as its always fun to tell stories about each frame.
Gallery walls can be anything you want them to be. They can be created in all living spaces - from the living room to office, staircase or the kids room, regardless of how big or small your space is. The art you incorporate in the gallery can be anything from vintage movie posters you've collected, your own artwork, your kids artwork, book covers that you love, personal photos from weddings, vacations or babies, postcards you've picked up, or art you have purchased. The collection will naturally be a reflection of what speaks to you, making it so personal.
Gallery walls do not need to be limited to media in frames. You can be totally creative here and mix in objects, whether it's those that hold sentimental value, those that look cool, or pieces that help develop a theme. This can be jewelry, antlers, mirrors, paddles, ceramic plates - you name it.
If you are shopping for items to add to your collection, worthy places to look for one-off pieces are thrift shops, flea markets, independent artists, garage sales and antique stores. Etsy is an amazing platform to find small artists who often sell originals, as well as prints. Although I like websites like Desenio and The Poster Club for a wide variety of prints, I do not recommend purchasing all your prints on a whim. A gallery wall should look like each piece has been carefully collected, so take your time with your pickings and be very selective.
One of our favorite pieces of art was purchased in Rome outside the Pantheon, painted by a woman who chose old cardboard boxes as her canvas. We first met her five years ago but didn't buying anything as we were on a big Europe trip and were worried about transporting it back to the US - which we kicked ourselves for later. Last year when we were in Rome again, we went to the same place with little hopes of her being there, but were delighted to find her there. That is when we purchased a piece of art painted on one piece of a bright orange Aperol Spritz box that we plan to frame above our bar - there is always a good story behind a feature in your gallery wall.
Other pieces in our gallery wall I love are - an outline of a camel with the Arabic word Sabar, meaning patience, from a gallery in Dubai, the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York subway map printed on wooden blocks bought in Manhattan, and a Rajasthani silk painting from Udaipur - all attached to so many memories and stories that make them more than just art in my gallery wall.
Something to consider before you start is how do you want to style your gallery wall. Is it linear cohesion and structure using one style and size of frame, or a variety of media in different frames, which will create a more mixed and eclectic look. This will drive the sizing and layout of your gallery wall and is best to decide at the start.
In my living room gallery wall, I have a variety of sizes and media. I picked the art first, even before I planned to create a gallery wall, then found frames to fit. This gave me the freedom to choose art I genuinely loved, and not be restricted by size. I have some with matting and others without matting. Matting is a good way to incorporate cohesion in varying media. For my staircase, however, I have chose to create a more uniform gallery wall, printing photographs I have taken in one size, without matting and placing them into simple black frames in one style, to create a grid.
There are many ways to plan your layout for the gallery wall. The easiest way to do this is by laying your framed art on the ground on top of brown craft paper, then tracing and cutting around it. Mark what each cutout is, then using painters tape, stick the cutouts on the wall. Seeing them on the wall will greatly help you determine the placement. Start with the focal piece and then experiment with the layout around that piece. Two to four inches of space between each frame looks best when creating an eclectic mix. If you plan on creating a linear grid look, the measurement between each frame needs to be the same. Alternatively, lay the art on the ground and work on the placement there. Keep in mind to evenly distribute the art by color and size and create interesting juxtapositions of what sits next to what. For example, do not group together black and white on one side and then pieces with more color on the other. This goes for frames as well - mix the frames by color and size so it looks elevated yet balanced and not cluttered.
A good tool to use to help ensure the frame is not sitting crooked is by using a leveler.
I use the word fixing for a reason. My gallery wall does not use one nail nor a hammer - yes, you read that right! My secret weapon are these (or these) removable hanging strips. I have been using these strips for years, and they are especially ideal when renting. They have been designed so they leave no residue, tears or marks on the walls or wallpaper when you remove them, and they are strong enough to hold up even the heaviest of frames. They work like velcro - you stick two strips to the back of the frame, then apply another two on top of them, locking them together holding up to 7.2kg. When you are ready to fix to the wall, you remove the sticker from the top layer and press into the wall. They sit flush against the wall and are extremely secure.
Exercise your creative juices, play around with framing, have fun with collecting what speaks to you, and be inspired to create a space in your home with the things that reflect you and your life.
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