Gallery walls look complicated, but they are actually fairly simple. They only require some planning, a bit of experimentation and a little bit of creativity.
It is helpful to trace each item you are going to hang on paper, then put it up on the wall with painters tape to see how everything will fit together before you hammer nails in your wall.
Decide on a Theme
There’s a lot to love about gallery walls — they offer endless possibilities and are a perfect way to showcase your personality and style. They can be created from a variety of different sources, whether you have a collection of art prints, family photographs, or even embroidery hoops that you’ve made yourself!
Spend some time exploring the options and figure out what speaks to you. Do you like all black and white photography, florals, a mix of portraits, or something completely unique? Once you’ve narrowed it down you can start putting your plan into action.
Before you start hanging your frames measure out the wall space on the floor using painter’s tape or on a digital program to help fine-tune your design. Try to leave a foot or a frame-width of blank space around each piece to create a visual frame and maintain balance. Also consider choosing a theme for your gallery wall — picking pieces with the same color will add consistency and keep it feeling pulled together.
Know Where It’s Going
While a gallery wall may look stylishly effortless, it actually requires some thoughtful planning to create. Especially if you’re going for a more cohesive and balanced look.
Start by choosing a location for your gallery wall. This will help guide the rest of your design decisions—for example, if you’re hanging on the stairs, it’s a good idea to mark a line up from the bottom of your staircase on the floor with painter’s tape to show you where the middle of your full layout should be.
It also helps to avoid locations where your gallery will compete with other design elements, like a colorful rug, doorbell boxes or light switches, says Dee. Finally, don’t forget that gallery walls can be changed up easily as your tastes change—you can simply remove the pieces you don’t love or frame in new ones. Just be sure to keep a consistent style and scale throughout your arrangement. This way your gallery feels intentional, not haphazard or unkempt.
Create a Rough Draft
Once you have the general idea of where your wall will go it’s time to start identifying what type of art and photos you want to feature. You can choose a more monochromatic look or something a bit more eclectic depending on your personal taste.
It’s important to think about the scale of your gallery wall, which will dictate how big or small your pieces should be. A good rule of thumb is to hang your largest piece in the center of the room and then build out from there.
Creating a rough draft on the floor is a great way to see how your layout will come together. Lay your framed art on a sheet of paper and trace around it, then cut out the pieces. You can then place them on your wall with painter’s tape to see how they will look before putting any holes in your walls. This will also help you determine spacing and symmetry, especially if you are hanging them above furniture.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want your gallery wall to look like, it’s time to start hanging. Start by prepping the designated wall – this may include a fresh coat of paint or simply touching up and wiping down. It’s also a good idea to mark where any furniture rests against the wall, so you can ensure your gallery is hung at the correct height.
Modica suggests arranging the entire gallery on the floor first to really see the symmetry, figure out spacing and get it all right before you begin banging nails into your walls. She also suggests using picture hanging hooks (or even Command Strips) instead of large wall anchors, screws or nails to minimize the amount of holes you’ll need to fill in the future.
Lastly, remember to keep all the frames 2-3 inches apart from one another to make sure your gallery looks balanced and purposeful. And don’t forget to add in a few non-framed pieces for interest and variety, as well as some decor items to tie the whole arrangement together.