Expert Tips for Designing a Gallery Wall for DIYers

Tips MarkAnthony Ball December 13, 2023

What is a gallery wall?

A gallery wall is a grouping or collection of paintings, photographs, art prints, and other personal treasures and items that are hung on a wall. Gallery walls are not just a decor trend but a decorating staple. They were able to stand the test of time simply because they are one of the most striking yet cost-effective ways to add a touch of visual interest to an otherwise blank and boring wall. 

Furthermore, a gallery wall doesn't just add character and personality to your living space. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase your memories—special family moments, travels, favorite life events—and turn them into a striking piece of art. You can also think of it as a collage of the things or images that you like to look at every day and make you the happiest.

Best places to hang a gallery wall

Since a gallery wall is a terrific solution to liven up forgotten spaces, the perfect and most common spots include the blank walls in the living room, especially the space over the couch or under the stairs, hallways, and staircase walls. Other places may include a wall in your home office, above the baby's crib, over a bar cart, above a fireplace mantel, or even on two adjoining walls.

5 Tips For Hanging A Gallery Wall Like an Expert

If you recently got your home keys and are looking forward to incorporating your personality into your living spaces, or you're a homeowner who wants to simply refresh your place, these expert tips can help you in curating and designing your gallery wall.

If this is the first time you're making a gallery wall, take the time to decide what your theme or subject matter will be so you won’t be overwhelmed with your collection. For personal photos, you may group them by themes, e.g. special family moments, memorable places, travel photos, children’s artworks, etc. If you’re using art or a collection of prints, you can keep your display cohesive by grouping those with the same type of frames, similar artwork, or with the same color theme. 

But if you don’t want to get limited by any themes, you can arrange an eclectic mix of all your favorites. You’re also not just limited to photos or prints, as you can add a variety of items such as mirrors, small sculptures, plates, and even plants and unusual objects.

When your collection is ready, you'd want to choose a picture or object that will be your gallery’s center or hero piece. It could be the biggest picture you have or the largest and most stunning art piece. If you’re arranging an eclectic collection, your focal point could be a large mirror, a clock, or any of your largest treasures. Then you could tuck in the smaller pieces all around the largest piece to give it a balanced look, depending also on your chosen layout or template.

If you're hanging photos, remember that frame selection is also important. You decide whether to put them on simple, minimalist frames that will help the art to stand out on its own. Likewise, you can also use different styles of frames with the same color, or opt for similar frames with lots of different colors. Using ornate frames can also add layers of narrative, especially for historic artworks. You can also leave some pieces unframed to create texture and contrast, making the decor more visually appealing.

Take the time to draw out your layout first before you start hammering. This extra step helps take the guesswork out of the process by making sure you got proper spacing and symmetry in your arrangement. 

  • Extra steps to make sure you end up with an aesthetically pleasing gallery wall:
  • Measure your wall space.
  • Lay out all of your possible pieces on the floor first, then measure the overall height and width of the grouping to make sure it'll fit on the wall where you plan to hang it.
  • Trace the outline of the pieces onto a large piece of paper and then cut them out. You can then move them around on the wall with painter’s tape until you’re satisfied with your desired layout.
  • For the spacing around your pieces, design experts suggest allowing 3 to 4 inches between each piece.

For the spacing around your pieces, design experts suggest allowing 3 to 4 inches between each piece. Make sure that there's even distance between frames so that the gallery wall won’t look uneven or messy. Likewise, keep the entire collection between two-thirds to four-fifths of the size of the wall so it won’t look cramped or awkward.


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