I’m obviously not the first person to share tips for hanging a gallery wall, but I thought it would be fun to share what works for me. When it comes to design, I work a lot less around any sort of norms or rules, and mainly use trial and error, letting my instincts guide me. Sometimes it just looks right. Sometimes it just doesn’t. But I have found systems and patterns that tend to work for me, and this is the system I use to put art together for a gallery wall.
1. Curate art patiently
I know some people think gallery walls are trendy and they’re tired of them. I get that. But I disagree that they are a trend that won’t last. I think a gallery wall is a great way to display the art you love and have curated over time. They should be interesting and eclectic and tell a story. Think child-produced art, a post card from a vacation, a print from a museum you visited. Maybe a beautiful landscape from an estate sale or an enlarged photograph from your travels. I also love to order prints from artists I discover online. (Some favorites include Brian Kershisnik, J Kirk Richards, Erin Gregory, Lynne Millar, and Beth Allen.)
It doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the pieces on my new wall is literally a piece of wrapping paper and, best of all, kids’ art is free. Also, don’t worry too much about things going together. As I pulled this wall together, it made me a laugh a little that the colors work so well. (I obviously love pinky/corally art!) And I think that’s the whole point. You collect things that you are drawn to, and, as a result, they end up working together, because we tend to be drawn to certain colors, styles, etc. I think when we can let go of design “shoulds” and “rules” and just use the things that we feel a connection with, our homes become a beautiful reflection of the people inside it and the style speaks for itself. One final note about this tip: I understand that this isn’t a helpful tip if you want to start from scratch and pull together a wall in a day, but I think the most interesting gallery walls take some time and experiences to create.
2. Use a mix of frames
I love a nice linear collection of matching frames and I have several examples of this in my home. But for a mixture of art, I think it’s also nice to mix up the frames. I tend toward white, gold, black, and wood, but you could really mix it up here. One of my favorite things to do is use no frame at all, but use a pants hanger or piece of washi tape instead. It really adds dimension to the collection. (This isn’t the most formal look, but I’m not the most formal person.) Also, I try not to go for all one style of frame. Some are totally basic and others ornate. I know framing feels expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I have a bunch of cheap, thrifted frames that I’ve spray painted, and lots from places like Target and Ikea. The most difficult is when you need a really big one in a specific size, and Michael’s is my favorite place for these because they tend to run great sales. I try not to pay more than $40, even for a huge frame.
3. Lay it out on the floor
There are several great strategies for layout, but this is my personal preference. It’s super quick and you can shift it all around super easily. I try to mix up the placement based on color and size of frame, and I try a lot of options until it feels right. In fact, what I laid out and decided on for this wall ended up getting switched when I hung the artwork, because I ended up a little off-centered and needed to change it up. I went with it and still loved the outcome. Be flexible and don’t stress. It will come together!
4. Get a second set of eyes
I think hanging art alone is the pits! (Please don’t ask me how many nail holes are behind the photographs I hung for Taylor’s Father’s Day present (insert sheepish emoji face here)!) It’s so helpful to have someone there to validate your placement decisions, hold frames up so you can stand back and say yay or nay, and tell you that the right corner of that frame needs to come down half an inch. I kid you not, I woke up Monday morning thinking “I should see if my mom would come help hang up this gallery wall today” and not an hour later she called to ask “is there anything you need help with today?” Hot dog, moms are the best! She was so helpful and she helped me not lose my mind when a frame fell and broke. Also she’s good at motherly reminders like “that glass is really dirty. Where’s your Windex?”
5. Hang your art in an arrangement that could be added to
I think these two rows look great, but I’m open to the idea that in the years that come, I might collect more that I want to add. So, I hung this collection in a way that we could easily add to the top of the bottom. I like the idea of completely filling a wall up. So fun!
So those are my hot tips for hanging a gallery wall. I hope they give you a bit of inspiration and confidence. Please let me know if you have any questions!