Having just moved, I recently found myself staring at a large blank wall that needed to be decorated. Since I’ve collected a lot of art over the years, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put up a gallery wall. It’s an easy way to imbue personality into a space because you’re hanging pieces that are important and, in some way or another, tell your story.
There are seemingly endless options for arranging a gallery wall, which can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But, once you embrace that it’s all about creating an arrangement that works for you, the process is fun and freeing.
While it is a creative endeavor, there are a few steps and guidelines you want to follow to set up a gallery wall that speaks to your personal style and looks good, too.
First, decide the aesthetic you’re going for. If you want a more modern, sleek look, you’ll probably want to choose a color theme (either for the frames or the artwork) that matches your home and is consistent between the pieces. However, if you want a more eclectic vibe, you can mix and match colors, frame types, and really have fun with it.
Unless you want a formal, unified display, consider mixing up the types of art you use. Don’t feel confined to traditional artwork. Pick pieces you love and want to look at every day. Your imagination is really the limit here. Photos, posters, records, quilts, drawings, plates—if you can put it on a wall, you can make it part of your gallery.
Next, you want to measure the wall and figure out how many pieces you’re hanging. Then, mark the ground with the wall measurements so you can arrange your work on the floor first. Your walls will thank you because you won’t be hammering unneeded holes into the drywall.
Try out a few different arrangements. Start with placing the biggest piece and add the smaller ones from there. Take a picture of each design with your phone and flip through them to figure out your favorite. Another bonus of taking pictures with your phone: If you’re still not sure, you can text your top picks to some friends to easily get a second—and third—opinion.
A few tips when arranging: Keep a consistent distance between the frames. That said, you have a bit more leeway when you’re going for a creative and eclectic look. With a uniformed design, you’ll want to stick to this rule pretty closely. Also, maintain a sense of balance. The layout doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but you don’t want the gallery wall to feel uneven. And, don’t forget about where the furniture will be. It’s okay to layer the art behind a couch or table but do so intentionally.
If you want to get really specific with the layout, cut out paper in the shape of each frame, marking where the nail goes, and then create the setup on the wall with the paper. This will ensure that every item is precisely placed.
Finally, hammer the nails into the wall, hang up the art, and you’re done. If you still have some open space, feel free to add to your gallery wall as you find new pieces you love. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating the display that you want.