Gallery walls are one of my favorite ways to make a space unique. They’re like the spice in the gumbo, the kiss in the Rom Com. A good gallery wall is the difference between a solitary confinement cell and the Museum of Modern Art. But! There is an art to it. There are enough sad, generic, not-quite-right gallery walls out there that I feel the universe needs the record set straight. Sure, we need galleries with great form and placement, but what we really need is galleries that scream individuality, that state clearly who we are, what we love, what we believe, what makes us US. Within this blog post, the secret formula of the perfect gallery wall is contained! Read on for adventure and enlightenment!

Here are the six steps to creating a mind-blowing gallery wall, numbered for your reading convenience:

Step 1: Pull out all your stuff. Everything! Ransack your storage. First, pull out all your obvious gallery fodder: art, prints, photos, etc. (Now pay attention, because this next bit is the difference between a boring, run-of-the-mill gallery and one that changes the world.) Keep pulling stuff out of storage. Look for simply anything sentimental or colorful or funny or old. Pull out your treasures and keepsakes– the stuff you can’t manage to get rid of! Books, letters, doodles, kid art, clothing, accessories, papers, tools, blankets, nature, instruments… you get the idea. If it makes you happy in any way, pull it out. There are no rules. Go crazy.

Step 2: Curate. Lock up your babies and animals, because you’re going to be putting your precious swag all over the floor. Lay it all out (the conventional along with the unconventional), step back and take a gander. If you have a color scheme in mind for the gallery, start by looking for those colors. Otherwise,  look for things that belong together, united by shape, or materiel, or size, or theme, or irony, or whatever strikes you. Play with different combinations until you find your golden ticket. The perfect gallery materiel. Pull these things together and quickly whisk the stuff you aren’t going to use aside to be dealt with later.

Step 3: Arrange. Once you have chosen the perfect shtuff, start playing with arrangements on the floor. Again, there is no right way to do this. Your arrangement can be totally random or meticulously structured. (See examples below.) Play with arrangements on the floor until you find one you really like, then take pictures from a few different angles as a reference while you hang the art. While I maintain there are no hard and fast rules, I do have a few perimeters:

  • Keep a consistent distance between each piece. If you have a little more room, go with 2″. If you are clustering your pieces tightly, go with 1/2″. Just keep it the same! Make sure to account for the width of the frame if the piece is framed. And speaking of frames!
  •        Keep framing consistent. Stick with one frame style and color for a very sleek cohesive look. For a more eclectic look, choose a few different styles, but still limit yourself to two or three. If you need to, buy some cheap frames for your gallery, but don’t sweat it if every piece isn’t framed. That’s okay too.
  •        Strive for balance. You don’t want a gallery that feels lopsided. If you have only one big piece, make it the main focus, and work the other pieces around it.
  •        Tessellate. Make like you’re playing Tetras, and really find the way the pieces lock together the best.

Step 4: Hang it. Crack out your measuring tape, and measure the width of your wall space. Make sure your gallery will fit nicely and make tweaks to your arrangement accordingly. (Don’t forget to photograph any changes!) Next find the rough center piece of your gallery. This will be the first piece you hang, and you will orient the others around it, using your photos as a layout guide. Make sure you don’t hang your gallery to high up on the wall!

What to hang with? For lighter stuff Command Strips. For heaver stuff: Monkey Hooks. My two absolute unsponsered favorite products for gallery walling. If you hit a stud, you will need to fetch a hammer and nail. Don’t worry about putting holes in your wall! If something gets placed not quite where you want it, move it!  Holes are so easily fixed. Get the gallery looking perfect, then follow up with damage control.

Step 5: Patch and paint. Get out the spackle (or toothpaste) and the paint, and touch up any oops-holes. This step takes ten minutes and makes you realize how not-a-big-deal patching wall holes is. Plus, it makes your gallery wall truly perfect.

Step 6: Brag. Take a picture, and immediately post it on social media, and text it directly to your best friend. You did good. You made beauty. You have transformed your space and unraveled the mysteries of the universe. (Okay, okay transformed your space.)

P.S. Share the love! Know anyone who needs this post like they need air, food, water, and chocolate? Yes, you probably do.

Love and guts,

Eirene

Garden Rows (Pieces are arranged in straight, even rows – source: kelleynan.com)

 

Buckshot (Pieces are clustered “randomly”)

 

Manscape (Pieces create a defined shape)

 

Cityscape (Pieces align along the bottom edge in a straight line)

 

Cascade (Pieces move from high to low in a waterfall effect)

 

Symmetry Sue (Pieces are placed symmetrically)