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How to Create a Gallery Wall

How to Create a Gallery Wall

Gallery wall with matching frames

Looking for a great way to put your favorite art and photos on display? A gallery wall offers a curated designer feel that can make a bold style statement while adding a personal touch to any space.

So, how do you create a gallery wall in your own home? Let’s start with the basics:

Consider the Foundation

Before you even start creating your gallery, you should consider the wall that will be behind it. The color, pattern and texture of your wall will help set the tone and create the foundation for whatever you decide to display.

Choose whether you want to stick with what you have or do something new with your wall. You can go bright and bold with a solid color, add a painted pattern or opt for wallpaper – just keep in mind that you want your wall and art to complement each other, so don’t choose something too busy that may distract from your gallery pieces.

Choose Your Pieces

There are a lot of options in terms of what your gallery can be composed of. Some of the most popular accents include:

  • Paintings, posters and other art – These are a classic gallery choice that can define the style of the whole room.
  • Framed photos - Family photos are the way to go if you’re looking to add a more personalized and homey touch. For a sophisticated look, try architectural or botanical photos.
  • Letters or numbers – Add an element of variety to your gallery wall by incorporating interesting fonts and less angular shapes. Highlighting the first letter of your family name is a fun way to personalize your gallery.
  • Inspirational word or quote - These can really set the tone for a space and provide a centering element to an otherwise vague theme.
  • Mirrors – Mix these in with a variety of other elements for the perfect accent, or enhance the space by clustering a bunch of them together. A gallery wall made exclusively of mirrors can highlight interesting frames and make your room look bigger.
  • Small wall-mounted shelves – You can add another dimension to photos or art by setting framed pieces atop wall-mounted shelves, or displaying books, figurines and other decorative objects.

Regardless of what you include in your gallery, it can help the overall aesthetic to stick to a general unifying theme like size, shape, color or subject. For example, you might want to include an eclectic mix of frames, but feature all black-and-white photos; or, perhaps your gallery could highlight a variety of art, photos and mirrors, but create unity through coordinating white frames There are plenty of ways to achieve this – so find a look that speaks to you and your style.

Mirror example
Inspirational words example
Picture frames example
Wall art example

Decide on the Layout

Your gallery design is nearly as important as the pieces you choose, and will define the general impression it creates in your space. There are infinite ways to arrange a gallery wall, however, to create an aesthetically pleasing layout always consider the balance and movement of your arrangement.

A balanced arrangement can help anchor a central space in your home. This can be created by ensuring the layout is symmetrical in overall shape, and that no single side has a larger area of art, photos or other décor.

You can get a balanced look aligning frame edges to create a larger shape (see left image below) or by arranging your gallery in a general cloud shape, but maintaining consistent spacing between pieces wherever possible (see right image below). With either design, you can always adjust the space between elements to change the overall size of your arrangement.

Border style gallery wall layout
Even spacing style gallery wall layout

An arrangement that incorporates movement is ideal for use in a transitional space such as a hallway or along a staircase. Visual movement is created when your layout has a clear direction or follows a line of sight. For example, a gallery built upon a central horizontal line or on a diagonal that mimics a stairway angle can draw a viewer’s gaze along the gallery.

When planning your arrangement, it can help to lay out everything on the floor while you fine-tune positioning. This allows for easy adjustment and flexibility while you decide what works for the items you want to incorporate.

Center line style gallery wall layout
Diagonal line style gallery wall layout

Hang Your Gallery Wall

Once you have your gallery wall planned, you’ll need to map it on the wall before you start putting holes in the wall. There are a few great strategies you can use to get the placement and spacing just right, but our favorites are 1) using painter’s tape to recreate your frames on the wall, or 2) cutting out paper outlines of your frames and taping them up. Either method will help you visualize the exact locations of your frames and allow you to measure spaces for hanging hardware or nails.

Once you are content everything is lined up, install hanging hardware and mount the pieces. Don’t be afraid to use a level to make sure every element is perfectly straight. When hanging everything, start from the top and work your way down to avoid moving or dislodging the pieces you’ve already hung.

Now that your gallery wall is mounted, all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy your creation!

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