July 10, 2013

7 Gallery Wall Tips & Tricks

I showed you our office's gallery wall on Monday and today I'm back with 7 tips and tricks that helped me achieve the look:

First let me preface this post by saying I'm not an expert! You might find the tips and tricks that worked for me ridiculous and that's ok! Different strokes (err, tips) for different folks :)

TIP #1
Don't measure your spacing

Did I shock you? I shocked me too! If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and have slight OCD tendencies which means creating this imbalanced, non-perfect gallery wall was HARD for me!

I started to space everything out 2" but then I ran into a "problem" when my starburst mirror stuck out farther than the edge of Dexter's floor plan frame which meant that the spacing between Dexter's frame and AWOLNATION's frame was going to be more than 2". I froze a little bit, paralyzed in perfectionism fear but then I threw my hands in the air and hung the poster up anyway – almost 3" away! Oh, the horror! ;)

I'll be honest and say that it was hard for me to let go and wing it but you know what? It was actually FUN to not over think things and I really started to like eyeballing the picture's placement after a little while! Moral of the story? I survived and the wall looks good!

TIP #2
One size doesn't fit all

Most of the pieces in my gallery wall vary in size from small and medium, to large and even x-large. I tried not to put similar sized pieces next to each other (unless they were part of a group like the abstract prints above) because I wanted to have an even mix of differently sized pieces on either side of the arrangement.

I was worried that I was going to end up with all of the large pieces on one side and the smaller ones on the other so I started hanging things on the outside edges first while working towards the center. Speaking of the center: don't hang one piece directly in the center of your wall! I learned this tip from Emily Henderson and since she's a pro, I took her advice into consideration when putting my gallery wall together :)

TIP #3
Mix things up

Note: this tip applies to both the frames you choose and the pieces of art you put inside of them.

All of my frames are black with the exception of a few canvases and clear acrylic frames. While they're mostly all the same color, they're not all the same style. I also tossed in a sliver frame that's different from all of the others because it holds a picture of my boyfriend and I and we're special, just like the frame!

Kidding! ;) (Man they really need to invent a sarcasm font!)

All of my art is different too! In an attempt to keep things interesting, I chose to mix photographs with canvases and posters, illustrations and sketches, and sculptural items which leads me to my next tip...

TIP #4
Toss in some sculptural items

If you have a mirror or an irregularly shaped item like a sconce, a monogram or a blue French horn, hang it on your wall! The item's shape will help break up the monotony that a grid of frames can sometimes cause and give the wall some more dimension. Plus, it'll add extra interest to the overall arrangement!

TIP #5
Meaningful pieces matter

Whether they came from a friend or family member or simply remind me of a good time, 26 out of the 29 things on our gallery wall mean something to me. The other 3 are things I thought were neat and didn't mind staring at all day haha

All of the pieces you hang on your wall don't have to have a special meaning though, they could simply be things you like! However, incorporating meaningful things into your overall arrangement (like the cow skull from my late grandma) helps take the "specialness" up a notch!

TIP #6
Balance your colors

While the majority of my art that's on the perimeter of my gallery wall is black and white and/or neutral, the rest of the pieces towards the middle are colorful. I didn't initially intend to arrange everything this way but I'm happy with how it all turned out since the colorful pieces help draw your eye across the entire wall!

TIP #7
Keep your eye moving

Speaking of your eyes – eye movement is key in any gallery wall arrangement! Just like in styling, the last thing you want is for your eye to stop on one area because that means some of your hard work isn't being seen.

Don't be afraid to put holes in your walls!

This tip may not apply to everyone depending on what type of walls you have and if you rent vs. own but if you own your place and have basic drywalled walls like mine, don't be afraid to put holes in them! Really! What's the worst that could happen? You have to patch a few holes and touch up some paint? No big deal! I'd rather put 50 holes in my walls while trying to figure out an art arrangement than live without any art on my walls for fear of making a placement mistake or having to do a few minor touch ups!

Of course you can always go the smart route by making paper templates for each one of your frames and taping them to the wall to figure out an arrangement before making any holes in it but I'm obviously a rebel who chose not to go that route! ;)

UPDATE: One of my readers reminded me of Command Strips! I forgot to mention them but they're a great alternative to using nails or screws if you're unsure of your arrangement or like to move things around a lot. Thanks for the reminder, Rosanne! :)

Here's a couple of crappy night time iPhone photos that show some of the looks my gallery wall was sporting before I figured out its final arrangement:

My gallery wall wouldn't be where it is today if I didn't have the courage to move things around and put extra holes in the wall :)

Do you have a gallery wall? What other tips or tricks would you add to my list?

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  1. I love your tips! I think what makes the wall work most of all is that you still have straight lines throughout the layout. I used to work in an art gallery and that was the one main rule we went by.
    It looks so awesome.

  2. I have a tip for you. I did a gsllery wall in our foyer and didnt want all those holes (mostly because I move stuff around often) so I used those 3M Command picture hangers...those things are magic!!

  3. ooh, it looks so good! great tips....I, too, have been surprised to find that the world does not end (nor does the gallery wall look crappy) when you don't have perfectly measured, equivalent spacing :)

  4. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I think it's hard to explain the styling process because a lot of it is done because things look right/don't look right, but you just did an amazing job of it!

  5. Looks great! I love the flow of color.

  6. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing :) xo Kristin

  7. Thanks Julia! I had no idea that having straight lines throughout was actually a rule but I like it! I kept referring to them as "rivers" like "well this river pulls your eye over here to this river so it works" haha

    Great tip, Rosanne! A few of my pieces have Command strips attached to them because they kept slipping off the nails they were hanging on when I'd hammer another nail into the wall haha Those things really are magic though!

    Thanks Gretchen! Isn't that a crazy revelation?! ;)

    Thanks Amber! It is hard to explain it because it's one of those "have to be there" or "have to do it to understand" type things but I hope I made some sense :)

    Thanks Megan!

    You're welcome Kristin! And thanks :D

  8. Awesome! I would add the easiest tip that I've found- make templates for your art! It might take a bit of extra work, but I just use wrapping paper, cut to size, and tape. Then you can move things around as you like without damaging the wall! Once I settle on the design I like, I just hammer a nail right through the paper template, hang the art, and rip the paper out from behind it. Fail proof! :)

  9. One thing I wish I had done with mine was to go a little tighter in my spacing!

  10. Really good tips! I am terrible at gallery walls because I'm the opposite of a perfectionist. I just like to throw it up there and move on. Your tips will help me the next time I get brave enough to try it.

  11. Love the tips! Our walls are made of this rock lath (I think that is what it is called) so essentially it is like a sheet of concrete with some plaster or something smoothed all over it. If we aren't careful with it, it will crumble (which could be fixed) so we always drill a hole first and then put the nail into it. We never just hammer straight in. Annoying but we're use to it now.

  12. Solid tips. I LOVE the way your gallery wall turned out. It's perfect.

  13. Well hello, gorgeous! Your gallery wall rocks!

  14. This is a great gallery wall! Fantastic job!


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