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How to Create a Gallery Wall

How to Create a Gallery Wall

Creating a standout gallery wall is a fantastic way to turn a blank canvas into a museum-inspired showcase, and it’s surprisingly easy to do. This enduring home décor trend involves bringing together an assortment of wall hangings into a single grouping, sort of like a three-dimensional collage for your walls. The result is a highly personalized and charming design that’s entirely customized to you, your family and your home. 

If the idea of designing your own gallery wall intimidates you, you’ve come to precisely the right place because we know that creating a professional-looking display can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to sourcing and selecting artwork, you also have to think about the plotting and the hanging. Indeed, it can be a little bit overwhelming! In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to create a one-of-a-kind gallery wall worthy of the trendiest design magazines.

Why Create a Gallery Wall?

Gallery walls have become a steadfast favorite on Pinterest and HGTV for a few key reasons. First and foremost, they’re amazingly adaptable, fitting into just about any empty corner or large wall in your home. On top of that, the gallery wall takes a personal approach to home décor since it allows you to integrate family photos, artwork and all the things you adore. And it has the unique ability to contribute to virtually any design scheme, whether you’re leaning towards ultra-chic, eclectic, traditional or rustic.

create a memory wall that tells your story

Through a variety of mediums, such as handmade artwork or custom canvas prints featuring personal photos, you have the ability to create a living, breathing memory wall that tells your special story. Plus, since no two families or individuals are quite the same, you know your gallery wall will be a genuine one-of-a-kind, not something you’d find in a store or online. It’s truly one of the best ways to give your home a customized feel inspired by all the people, places and things you cherish.

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How to Design a Gallery Wall

Designing a stylish gallery wall is a multi-step process comprised of a few simple tasks. Before you do anything, we’d recommend flipping through your favorite design accounts on Instagram and Pinterest, saving ideas that you can reference as you gather artwork and finalize your layout. Once you’ve got some inspo in mind, you can start the execution process.

Gallery Wall theme ideas

Step 1: Pick a Theme (or a Few) — Although a single theme isn’t necessary — and, indeed, two or three may be even better — focusing on a motif can help you zero-in on your vision and decide which pieces to integrate. Start by thinking about what you love. You might decide to create a grown-up sports gallery wall featuring relics of your favorite game or to make your wall entirely personal, including only personalized photos and items. Below are a few awesome themes to consider. Remember to mix and match themes as you please! 

  • Sports featuring wall decals of your favorite teams. Whether you’re a football fan looking for NFL wall decals or a diehard baseball fan in need of MLB wall decals, Fathead has you covered. Complete your sports-themed gallery wall with other items like framed newspaper covers, ticket stubs and framed 3D elements like jerseys.
  • Art featuring original artwork and framed prints. Work in multiple mediums, including painting, photography and drawing.
  • Local featuring photographs of your favorite landmarks around town, including buildings and businesses, maps and depictions of the skyline.
  • Nature with photos and paintings of natural scenes with wooden frames and natural materials. Consider framing leaves, feathers or dried flowers.

Decorator hanging picture on white brick wall

Step 2: Gather Your Artwork — Now for the fun part — gathering your wall art! If you’ve already been collecting pieces for some time, you’ll probably need to mix pieces you already have with custom-ordered hangings and objects sourced from the store. We always recommend scouring thrift shops, antique stores and estate sales for wall art. Even if the subject matter isn’t entirely your style, you may be able to reuse the frame or repurpose the artwork so it fits with your theme. 

Step 3: Choose Your Layout — The arrangement is the part of the gallery wall process that intimidates a lot of people, but we promise it’s surprisingly tough to mess up! Consider that there are two primary options for hanging an art group:

  • Grid. This layout involves hanging each piece in a straight line with even spacing between the edges, such as in three rows of four framed photos or a single line with four or five framed photos. Typically involving artwork of the same size and shape, this style is generally considered a bit more formal than the alternative, making it more popular in traditional living spaces, foyers and dining rooms.
  • Asymmetrical. This option features pieces positioned out of line with one another to create an artistically-inspired group of wall art. Pieces are often mismatched with various frame materials, subject matters, sizes, mediums and colors. This is the preferred choice for more eclectic, bohemian, artistic and relaxed spaces, especially in casual living rooms and offices.

Step 4: Map Your Vision — Now that you have a good idea of your general vision, it’s time to map it out. Position your pieces on the floor the way you’d like them to look on the wall, rearranging as needed to create a cohesive theme and to fit the pieces together naturally. If space is limited, take a piece of paper (if you’ve got it, graph paper works well here) and sketch out your vision. Using a ruler, you can even mark the wall with a piece of removable tape or a pencil to guide you while hanging. You may also opt to hang up blank pieces of cutout paper or tape outlines on the wall so you can get a better vision of where to hang each piece before you start drilling.

Step 5: Hang — Time to hang! Start by hanging the central-most piece using our tips below, measuring to ensure that it’s positioned precisely where you want it to be. From there, measure how much distance you want to be between each piece — a good rule of thumb is about 1.5 to 2 inches between the edge of each piece — and mark around the central piece where the next one should go. If eclectic and artful is your style, don’t worry about being too precise with measurements. If you prefer the ultra-clean grid style, measure as much as possible and break out the laser level. 

custom gallery wall

The Best Way to Hang Photos and Artwork

Though you can use various different methods to hang your gallery wall, the best option is to drill in self-tapping threaded anchors and screws because they create a wider balance point so the artwork is securely attached to the wall and stays level. If you have plaster walls, be sure to pre-drill the hole at a slight angle before installing a nail. This will prevent the plaster from cracking. If you’re dealing with heavier pictures, try to attach them to the studs of the wall using a stud-finder. 

Tips for the Perfect Gallery Wall

Ready to bring your artistic vision to life? We’ve got some awesome tips to help you transform even the biggest blank walls into gallery-inspired displays worthy of your favorite home décor blogs! Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Mix and Match Frame Styles and Sizes — The beauty of a good gallery wall is that it doesn’t have to involve a whole lot of coordination. In fact, some of the coolest gallery walls we’ve seen incorporate a wide variety of sizes and styles of artwork. Mix and match mediums, sizes, frame materials, mat colors, subject matters and spacing to create a truly eclectic and inspired design.
  • Create a Cohesive Palette — Prefer a matching look? That’s great, too! If you like the idea of a themed or cohesive design, look for artwork and photos that share a similar color palette. They don’t necessarily have to be similar in subject matter or design style, but if they share similar shades, they’ll look like they belong together. You can also tie together seemingly unrelated pieces with matching frames if you desire a more put-together theme.  
Create Dimension
  • Create Dimension with Unique Objects — If you prefer the more relaxed and artsy gallery wall look, be sure to bring in objects of various depths and dimensions to create a multifaceted aesthetic. Some great options include lighted signs that seem to pop off the wall, sculptural wall art featuring wood or metal components, clocks, crosses, cutout letters and signage. You can even incorporate three-dimensional objects such as baseball bats, jerseys, clothing, etc. Consider having these objects professionally framed for the best result.
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  • Remember: Anything Can Be Artwork — When deciding what to hang on your gallery wall, remember that there’s more to the story than just photos and paintings. And when you get super-creative with it, you’ll be able to bring a true originality that reflects your special story and sense of style. With basic framing skills, you can turn pretty much anything into a showcase-worthy work of art — pages torn out of your favorite book, important documents such as a marriage license or citizenship documents, postcards, letters, books, playing cards, maps, patent drawings, vinyl records, calendars, you name it!
  • Start with a Splashy Backdrop — Who says you have to start with a blank canvas? Not us! In fact, a pop of color or some fun peel and stick wallpaper might serve as a great background to help tie your gallery wall theme together. Just remember to choose more subdued artwork if you want to go with a busier backdrop and vice versa so as to not overwhelm the eyes. 
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  • Consider Professional Framing — Framing professionals are artists in their own right, and they can turn even the most basic items into stunning masterpieces. With that said, professional framing can be quite costly, so it’s probably not the best choice for every single piece in your assortment. Take large, complicated or showcase pieces to a framing shop and learn a few DIY framing skills for the rest of the pieces. For a professional look on a DIY budget, learn how to custom-mat pieces at home. A little bit of matting can really go a long way with photos and art, and it’s surprisingly easy to add to store-bought frames. 
  • Start Small — If you love the idea of creating a gallery wall but don’t have the pieces yet to do so, consider starting small and hanging one or two pieces with the intention of adding on as you find pieces that inspire you. Rather than having a fixed design, sometimes it’s better to have a living gallery wall that changes along with your taste and collection. This approach also allows you to create the perfect grouping because you won’t feel like you have to include certain pieces upfront just to make it look whole.
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A Wall That Makes Your Home Feel Like Home

At the end of the day, the point of a gallery wall is to give your home that personal finishing touch so it feels homey and tailored to you and your family. Remember to put plenty of heart and soul into your gallery wall so it looks completely customized to you! With these tips, you’ll be able to create an inspiring, one-of-a-kind display that you won’t find anywhere else.


Image Credits

baitong333 / Shutterstock.com

Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Followtheflow / Shutterstock.com

Aaish grafico / Shutterstock.com

New Africa / Shutterstock.com

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