Whether you’ve just moved to a new home or have decided to re-decorate, hanging art on your walls is one of the easiest ways to turn a house into a home. You don’t have to be a design guru to know that pictures are to walls what paint is to a canvas, but not all walls (or the art that hangs on them) are created equal. Today, we’re going to be looking at creating a gallery wall.

Before we begin, a few definitions:

Gallery wall: a collection of art hung on a wall in a cohesive and visually pleasing way

Art: anything you can hang on a wall

Creating a gallery wall is a great way to add interest and style to any space, but before you break out the hammer and nails, read through our gallery wall do’s and don’ts:

DON’T do anything before you decide what you’d like to display

So many people make the mistake of starting their gallery wall before they’ve found all of the pieces required to make it work. Think of a gallery wall like a puzzle without all the pieces. Collecting art is half the fun, so enjoy it. I prefer going the eclectic route simply because it gives you more freedom to choose different things to display. When planning your gallery wall, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Frames can be different styles and colours, as long as they’re complimentary
  • Add mirrors and sculptural pieces to add variety
  • Start with a centrepiece -it should generally be the biggest piece of art
  • Decide what shape you want the art to take (linear, organic, symmetrical) and the overall style you’re looking to achieve
  • For a clean and sophisticated look, all black frames with similar matting work very well, though it can cost a small fortune to assemble. Only you can decide what is best for your space, but use your centrepiece as a guide and collect as many pieces as needed for a finished wall before putting a single hole in it.


DO choose the right wall

Before you start placing art on a wall, you must first determine what walls are deserving of it.  Some of my favourite places to display a gallery wall are in a long entry hall, a stairway, or living room.

  • I like to position a gallery wall opposite or adjacent to the largest seating arrangement in the room. Your guests will have a hard time admiring it if it’s placed behind them on the couch they’re sitting on.
  • The number and size of pieces you plan on displaying should always be considered when determining the size of the wall you choose, and you’ll want to scale up or down accordingly


DON’T Overcrowd

You’ve chosen your wall and have all the right pieces to fill it up nicely; now it’s time to edit.

  • Always lay your art out on the floor in front of your wall first.
  • The shape of the wall can help you determine the best arrangement for your art:
    • Long entry walls lend themselves to long linear shaped groupings
    • Double high stairwell walls lend themselves to vertically placed art
    • Symmetrical gallery walls are typically easier to organize and can be arranged by placing your centrepiece down first and arranging similar sized pieces in similar areas on either side of it.
  • Once you have your small and medium-sized pieces down in a way that appeals to you, you can add your smallest pieces to help fill it in.
  • Pro Tip: Spaces between frames should be very similar and never be any bigger than the smallest piece of art you intend to display.


DO consider unconventional art pieces

The best gallery walls take us by surprise. They’re cohesive without being boring, stylish without being obvious.

  • If your wall is going to consist of entirely framed art make sure the pictures and the frames tell an interesting story
  • Consider incorporating other objects into the mix: mirrors of different shapes and sizes, baskets, tapestries, tennis rackets and antlers; you’re only limited by your imagination. It might not be appropriate to have an entire wall filled with family photos paired with a single set of moose antlers for example, but the same antlers might look amazing when mixed in with some adventure photos and travel paraphernalia.

Art doesn’t need to be expensive to look amazing, and sometimes the best way to display it is next to a variety of other pieces. If the place you call home isn’t as homey as you’d like, adding a gallery wall might be just what you need.

Author: Kiel Storms. Read more about him here. 

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