In my 20s, the only gallery walls I had the pleasure of seeing would be in The National Gallery or the collection of postcards my Mum used to stick to the fridge.
The only “art” I would possess would be a print from Athena which would be sellotaped to the wall (I think I was the only one who didn’t own THAT poster of a naked man holding a baby).
Fast forward to my adult years and we were faced with a gigantic mortgage and renovation project and I couldn’t see much further than that. When my builders asked me what paint I wanted to use, my answer was white! Whitewash it all.
The first thing I did in my living room after living with the white walls for far too long was to inject a little bit of color.
From my over-excessive use of Pinterest, I knew I wanted to use a dark green paint and decided to just go with a feature wall at first as this was quite a bold step for me into the world of dark green interiors (no death by painting or murder by roller brush were involved in this world).
Our living room can be quite a dark room due to a tree outside hogging most of the light, so I decided to stick with the feature wall and started planning what to put opposite.
My Obsession with Gallery Walls Begin
Again, with my daily obsession with Pinterest, I found that I was increasingly pinning gallery walls and whilst my follower count was growing on Instagram, more small and independent businesses were gifting me art and prints.
Aha! I thought. How about creating a gallery with colors that complement the room? And boom! My gallery wall curating career began (if you want to pay me to curate a gallery wall, I’d be more than happy! Haha).
This is the gallery wall that now sits opposite my green feature wall. I kept to the green and natural elements of the room with my prints
Here are my top tips on how to design a gallery…
Before anything else, decide on the layout.
There are so many different types of layouts, it really is all up to you! It also depends on how much room you have and where the gallery wall is going which will determine whether you want to go horizontal or vertical. Here are a few ideas to get you started –
Square or Symmetrical blocks
This is best for prints that are all the same size and, in my opinion, monochrome! This seems to work best when you are creating a family portrait gallery and by laying them out at equal distances, you can create a perfect square or rectangular gallery.
Have you got one piece of large art that you love, but would like to add around it? This is also known as the classic gallery wall and probably how most people envisage art collections.
I think centered always works for me as I love to find a big piece of art and then build up around it, matching the color palette. This could be anything, but I like using a big seasonal wreath for this task. I interchange them once in a while, usually twice per year. This online store provided me with some of my favorite ideas.
On a Shelf
This is a popular way to display your favorite prints or art pieces and no drilling necessary! Apart from putting the shelf up, that is.
Does what it says on the tin! First of all, decide whether the gallery wall is going to be horizontal or vertical, and then by keeping a rectangular shape, fit all your prints inside!
This is where the gallery wall starts low and gradually builds up over a series of steps. This is perfect if you want to display art over a sideboard and around objects like TVs or lamps as I have recently done in my playroom. The other obvious time a climbing gallery wall is perfect is up a staircase.
Draw a line across the centre of the wall where you are planning your gallery and make sure the art doesn’t cross this line. This line can either be a horizontal or vertical line, you choose!
You can then place your art either below/above or to the left/right of the line and they don’t have to be the same shape.
Another way and one of the easiest ways to create a fantastic layout for your gallery wall is to “follow the line” of something that is already in the room. You could start a gallery wall from the top of your sofa and build upwards, start the gallery at the edge of a wall and work inwards, or even create a gallery wall around the corner of a room.
The Eclectic Gallery Wall
Anything goes! This has to be my favorite type of gallery wall, just grab your favorite art and put it up!
This is best for when you are designing a gallery wall of different sizes and shapes of prints and adding anything extra like letters, plates, mirrors, wall hangings, and even spoons!
What Theme? If any?
You’ve decided the layout, now to choose the art, prints, and objects if any! You might already have some art lying around, or have one piece of art in particular that you want to build on. I think with gallery walls, anything goes really! If you love it, stick it up on the wall.
Personally, I try to stick to a very loose theme. My living room has a green and pink colour scheme so I tried to keep to those colours. I absolutely loved a face print that I wanted to put up in my playroom, so I built the prints around that turning my gallery wall into a facial and floral tribute!
Here are a few gallery wall theme ideas if you are stuck…
A Colour Story
Inject some color into your room by choosing bright and fun prints. These can be anything from abstract, retro-style prints, film posters, or just a random collection of prints you love.
Do you love the simplicity of black-and-white photography? Create a gallery wall that oozes sophistication. This can be an eclectic mix or family portraits, you choose!
I love a gallery wall full of faces! It’s probably not for everyone but I love the idea of looking for portraits in charity shops, antique fairs, and online to create the look. You could also create a portrait gallery of your favorite family snaps.
Going on from the portrait gallery, finding beautiful vintage pieces of art online, in charity shops, and at antique fairs is a fun way to build a bespoke and attention-grabbing gallery.
I’m increasingly drawn to abstract art. I love how it looks on a gallery wall and there is an abundance of fabulous and cheap prints online!
Mix and match with different sizes and shapes and use different shades and colours or keep the gallery symmetrical with the same colour tone throughout.
How to Create a Gallery Wall
You’ve chosen your theme and layout and have your prints and art ready. What is the best way to hang your gallery wall?
- Measure the area of the wall where you want to hang the gallery
- Find a floor space or rug and recreate the wall area with some frog tape marking the edge of where the gallery wall will go.
- Make sure all your art and prints are framed and then rearrange them on the floor or rug to see what layout works best.
- Once you are happy with the layout, measure how far away the middle picture is from the edge and then measure this point on the wall. This is where you will hang your first frame and work it out from there.
5. To hang the frames, personally, I prefer command brand strips as they are easy to remove if you get the measurement wrong or want to change the art. They are easy to apply, just stick the strip onto the back of the frame, peel away the wall section, hold the frame in place on the wall, and press firmly.
If the frame is too heavy for a command brand strip, either use gold picture nails which only require a nail, or drill a hole with a rawl plug and nail to take the weight.
6. When hanging the art, start from the middle and work your way out. Make sure that each piece of art is an equal distance apart by either using a tape measure or your own eyes (I tend to just do it by sight and it seems to work)
7. Every time you hang a picture, step away and make sure you are happy with it before you move on to the next picture. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, especially if you are using command brand strips. Just peel them away from the wall and start again.
So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got some picture hanging ideas and lots of prints waiting to be put up on the wall that has been gathering dust for months.
It takes no time at all and the end result is really worth it. I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration to be brave and get on with it!