It is the perfect place to display art you’ve collected, right alongside family photos and momentos. Here I’ll give you ideas for how to select and arrange art, gallery wall layout options and more. However, when you want to create one, your first thought often is “But where do I start?” Well, that’s because gallery walls are a bit of a “chicken before the egg” situation!
You may find you’ve already checked one or more of these gallery wall steps off your list, or you’re doing it “out of order” from how I wrote it.
Gallery walls are meant to be personal and I hope this post gives you the guidelines and confidence to finally hang that art up in whatever way makes your heart happy! Some feature symmetrical grids, some are minimal with art spaced widely apart.
For this post, I’ll be focusing on my favorite tips for non-symmetrical gallery walls. Photo by Kyle Smith Born, Designed by Michelle Gage via Domino
Photos by Fiona Murray, Designed by Kitty McCall viaDesign Sponge
If you’re shopping for mostly new art for your gallery wall, it is easiest to pick a color palette and stick to it. For a truly dynamic gallery wall, mix multiple styles of art and photography. It gives the wall depth and ensures each piece can shine and not detract from one another.
Similar to the color rule I mentioned above, I generally like to make sure each style of art is represented 2-3 times. Gallery walls generally look best when they feature pieces of all different sizes.
Pick 1-3 larger pieces and fill the rest in with small and medium sized art.
Kid art, letters from a loved one, class pictures from a great grandparent. The biggest question I’ve heard is “How do I include family photos in my gallery wall?” Understandable, as family photos often have a very different feeling and style than artwork you would purchase. Choose photos that match the palette of your art, if you can’t or don’t want to go black and white.
This can be broader, like picking a warm toned photo if your art has warmer tones, or more specific, like choosing a photo where a family member is wearing a certain color that you have incorporated elsewhere in your art. Having a wider mat around family photos makes them feel more modern, and like they belong on a wall instead of a shelf.
If you have a 5×7 photo, choose a 11×14 frame or larger to get that significant mat space. Framing and mating art deserves it’s own post, and I’ll make sure to give it one in the future! I typically choose: a wood (birch or walnut), a metal (brass or silver) and a neutral (white or black). Store-bought frames and custom mats are your budget saving friend.
Now, the backing on these is often glued or stapled on, but with some patience you can remove it and swap in your own art instead! I love pulling in non-framed art or objects to add dimension to a wall, and sometimes to fill in that awkward space between two pieces.
Be sure to consider this and have something on hand that you’re ok with being visible on your wall before you get to the hanging part and realize you don’t! You can lay things out digitally, if you prefer to work in that format, or in person.
If you just want a rough guesstimate, or to see how things look, you can simply drag and drop images of the pieces into a document and eyeball the various sizes and layouts. This is the easiest way to lay out your gallery wall with no cost and no technical skills involved!
You can see I did that above in the image with a white piece of foam core for where our TV would lay in the gallery wall. While not my preferred method as it’s labor intensive, I know everyone works differently and laying things out on the wall may be a great or necessary visual option for you!
Typically, you’ll want to place these anchor pieces off-center instead of directly in the middle. Then you can begin to fill in around the large pieces with the smaller art and photos you have. The exception to the off-center rule: If you have an unframed piece, like the neon light pictured above, as well as a lot of varied shapes and objects as art, you can often make a centered statement piece work! Unless you are doing a perfectly symmetrical grid for your gallery wall, you want to ensure you have spaced out and varied your art’s orientations.
Spread out pieces of similar sizes, colors or art styles. If you have a few pieces that are the exact same size and look good next to each other, you can frame those next to each other and create a mini triptych or grid within your gallery wall.
Just like you’ve done with your art pieces, make sure your frame styles (that can mean finish or design) are varied throughout the wall.
If you end up with an unintended awkward gap, try adding a dimensional object, like a ceramic wall charm or embroidery hoop! Ideally that means you’ll starting somewhere in the middle (not center) of the area you are working with. However, if you have a hard line somewhere (like the floor, or the top of a dresser) consider starting there to avoid running out of space later!
Take an iPhone pic if you need to, I find it REALLY helpful to see it visually in 2D when decision making. Then, that person can walk over and mark where the nail or hook should be placed (based on where the hardware is on your frame) while the other is still holding it up. You could run into trouble if your measurements aren’t perfect and you don’t have enough space for the ones in the middle!
Pick a “standard” spacing that feels good to you and use that as a starting point, but don’t live and die by it!
Alternatively, I’m a huge fan of Command art hanging strips. They hold a good amount of weight, are really easy to hang (much easier than nails, in my opinion!)
I hope these tips help give you the confidence to get some of that art (and those family momentos!) For art sources for our main bedroom gallery wall, click here!