A gallery wall is a collection of several pieces of wall art on one wall. It’s designed so that all the pieces work together to create a single, tied-together look. And I’m just going to come right out and say it: Your house should have one.
Here’s why: It’s an easy way to dress up a big, blank space. It won’t cost you a lot of money. And—best part—you don’t have to be especially handy to create one. Here’s how.
First, get the lay of the land.
Figure out all big-picture questions like where the collection will hang, what shape it will be, and which pieces you’ll include.
To determine that last part, spread out all your artwork on the floor and look for a common thread among them. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated—a shared color, texture, or theme is plenty. Nothing jumping out at you? Try putting everything in matching frames for instant similarity.
Create your arrangement.
Move pieces around on the floor until you find a layout so stellar, it makes you wonder if you missed your calling as an interior decorator.
Some helpful hints as you go: Evenly distribute colorful and large-scale pieces to keep things looking balanced. Don’t fret if the space between frames isn’t uniform—just make sure there are no gaping holes. When you’re done arranging, take a picture or draw a map of the final design.
Make a paper version.
Tedious, yes, but trust me, this is worth the extra effort.
Lay a frame down on a piece of paper—I like kraft or wrapping paper—then trace the perimeter. Cut it out and label. Do this for every frame.
Mark where the nail goes.
You’ll need your measuring tape for this.
First, measure the width of each frame and note the midpoint on its corresponding piece of paper. Then measure the height; write that number down. Next, pull up on the wire in the back and measure how far its highest point is from the top of the frame (usually two or three inches). Subtract that number from the height of the frame, and that’s where your nail should go. Mark the spot on the paper. Repeat for each frame.
Hang the paper.
Pull out that photo or map of the brilliant design you created and, using it as a guide, hang your pieces of paper on the wall with painter’s tape. (It’s the gentlest on walls.) I find it easier to start in one corner and work your way across.
A word to the wise: Mounting pictures too high or low on a wall is a common mistake. Aim for a midline around eye level, or 60 inches from the floor. Also, if there’s a sofa against the wall, leave 8 to 10 inches of space between it and the bottom of the lowest frame. Don’t forget to step back and eyeball your progress every now and then and make adjustments as needed.
Prefer your a row of evenly spaced frames instead? Christa Savino, gallery director at the Jill Newhouse Gallery in New York City, recommends this old auction house trick.
- Measure the length of the wall.
- Measure the width of each of the frames and add them together.
- Subtract that total from the length of the wall.
- Divide the number of spaces including the space from the last two frames to the edge of the wall. (So, for example, six frames would mean seven spaces.)
- The final number is the amount of space you should leave between each work and between the first and last works and the end of the wall.
Hang the frames.
You’re in the home stretch now. Once everything looks the way you want, hammer the nail right through the mark you made. Rip off the paper (it’s so satisfying!), and hang your frame.
Make sure nothing is crooked.
FYI, most frames aren’t perfectly square and most floors are exactly even. Save yourself the headache and ditch the level, Savino says. Instead, eyeball the finished product to make sure everything looks straight.
Want to see Bonnie put her how-to into practice? This slideshow shows how she recently created a gallery wall for her son’s room: