Fun With Frames: How To Create The Perfect Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are one of the hottest interior decorating trends of the year. In fact, if you’ve made a passing glance over Pinterest or Instagram lately, you’ve probably seen bloggers sharing pictures of professional-looking gallery walls. And now it’s your turn!

Whether you’re looking to display photos of family and friends, beautiful landscapes or a collage of favorite frames and objects, creating a gallery can instantly dress up any room. A handmade gallery wall for your home is a great way to add a custom work of art and show off your personal style. Creating one takes some time and patience to get it just right, but the results are oh-so worth it.

Here’s everything you need to know to put together a Pinterest-worthy gallery wall of your own.

What’s Needed

  • Photos, postcards, artwork, etc. — any flat item that you love can be used, so get creative!
  • Frames in various shapes and sizes
  • Additional decorative items
  • Painter’s tape
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Picture hangers and nails
  • Hammer
  • Toothpaste

A Note About Choosing Your Artwork

image via The Every Girl

The first rule of creating a gallery wall? There are no rules! You’re free to add anything you like to your space, but a bit of restraint will help you narrow your selections and create a stylish, cohesive look. To unify your artwork, try choosing frames that are all the same color — black, white or silver are classic choices. If you already have frames and don’t want to replace them, you can spray paint them to match.

You could also consider applying a theme to the artwork itself. Perhaps your gallery wall will feature photos of your travels and framed signs or posters of the places you’ve been. If you’d like to highlight photos of people, consider having black and white prints made to lend a timeless look to your wall. Adding framed documents like your grandparents’ marriage license or an ancient birth certificate will also add interest.

Framed photos and documents aren’t the only things that you can include in your gallery wall. Any decorative item meant to hang will work, so consider these options to spice up your gallery wall:

  • Clocks
  • Hand-painted signs
  • Driftwood
  • Mirrors
  • Stained glass
  • Wrought iron grates
  • Decorative fabric stretched over a plain canvas
  • Antique china
  • Shadowboxes filled with small trinkets

Step One: Define Your Space

Decide where you’d like to display your gallery of artwork. Gallery walls work anywhere you have the space, but a public area like a hallway, living room or dining room will allow you to show off your hard work and good taste to guests.

Once you’ve chosen your spot, measure the height and width of the area you’d like to fill. Use your painter’s tape to outline a rectangle of the same dimensions on the floor in front of your wall (clear away furniture to make room if you need to). This will be your work space as you design your gallery layout.

Step Two: Lay Out Your Artwork

Gather all your framed pictures and any other decorative items you plan to hang on your gallery wall. Spread them out so you can see everything; you’ll be using the taped-off area of your floor as your testing ground for your layout. This will allow you to try as many arrangements as you like without putting a single hole in your wall.

It’s generally easiest to start with your largest piece. Place this somewhere near the center, then add your next few largest items around it to create a balanced look. Make sure to add a few items to the left and then a few items to the right to work your way out as you go. Fill in the gaps with small items, and feel free to tweak the spacing as often as you need to.

Step Three: Evaluate

Stand back and check out your work. Are there gaps you need to fill in? It’s ok to make a trip to the craft store to create a special item or two to fit right into an empty spot. If you don’t have a photo to add, try filling a frame with a bit of patterned scrapbook paper or painting a blank canvas a solid hue that matches your color scheme.

Once you think you’re satisfied with the layout, sleep on it. You’ll want to look at it on the floor with fresh eyes before you commit to the hanging process.

Step Four: Hang Your Artwork

Once again, start with your large centerpiece and measure the distance between it and the nearest frames you have laid out on the floor. Hang your big item in the center of your wall, then use your tape measure and pencil to mark where the next items belong on the wall.

To get the nail in just the right spot, place a dab of toothpaste on the picture hanger that’s attached to the back of your frame. Line the frame up where you’d like it on the wall and gently press it flat. When you remove it, you’ll have a bit of toothpaste showing exactly where to hammer in your picture hanger.

Once you’ve tacked the hanger onto your wall, wipe off any excess toothpaste from both the wall and the frame and hang the picture to check your work. Use a level to make sure your pictures are perfectly straight — a small mistake will magnify itself as you go, so this is an important step.

Continue with this process until all of your pictures are hung. It’s best to work outwards from the center to help keep your height and spacing even as you go along.

Caring for Your Gallery Wall

Once your gallery wall is complete, you get to enjoy it! To keep it looking great for the months and years to come, be sure to give it a careful dusting once a week. It’s also a good idea to take the photos off the wall to dust the backs and the wall once or twice a year as well.

If you’re considering adding to your gallery wall, be sure you have enough new items to keep the overall look balanced. If you add a photo to the right side, for example, make sure there’s something else on the left to keep the whole thing even. If you can’t imagine ever disrupting the balance, save your new favorites until you have enough set aside to create a whole new gallery wall in another room.

This fun design challenge can make any space more attractive and personalized – so get crafty and see what you create!