How to Create a Beautiful Gallery Wall

by Lisa Doherty 26. June 2018 15:57

If you’ve always dreamed of having a gallery wall in your home, then why not make it a reality? They are striking, visually interesting and a great way to show off your taste and favourite art styles.

With a little bit of thought and consideration, a gallery wall can give you that glossy interiors magazines look in your own home. We show you how.

What is a gallery wall?

Just like an art gallery or museum, a gallery wall is made up of five to six large pieces - or more for smaller paintings - clustered or grouped together on a wall.

If you’re starting from scratch, this is a great opportunity to think about whether you want to have a theme for your gallery wall or whether you want a mashup of styles or genres. Both can be fun, eclectic and reflect your personalist. Either way, a gallery wall is a collection of art, so it’s a great excuse to start building and developing your range of paintings.

If you’ve got a small collection already, but it needs building, you can start creating your gallery wall now and add to it, each time you find that perfect painting, photo or sketch.

Themed, eclectic or random?

The only rule with a gallery wall is that no matter how different they appear, all the paintings should work or connect together in some aesthetic way and have some sort of visual flow. Otherwise, your viewer is going to get confused and the wall risks looking like a jumble of paintings.

Here are some ways to theme your wall:

  • A selection of portraits
  • Still life’s
  • A series of near-identical paintings or
  • An eclectic mix of vintage, period and modern

The great thing about art is the way the unexpected happens, especially when two opposing art styles work really well together. How this happens is largely down to the eye and the layout of the wall, but a classical-style painting can sometimes work amazing well alongside a contemporary work of art.

The Shopkeeper by Alan  Harris
The Shopkeeper by Alan Harris

There are also other ways you can make your gallery wall connect by either using the same frame throughout, display paintings from the same artist, hang in uniform rows or randomly ‘scatter’ them on a wall in a mix of shapes and sizes.

Interiors

A gallery wall is likely to be the focal point in your room, so it's best to keep your walls simple in colour for this to work well. Patterned wallpaper, for example, will make it too busy for the eye, although you could separate the art from the wallpaper to create two distinct sections on a wall.

In the setup below, we have overlapping unframed prints above a patterned wall. The prints stand out against the deep blue, whilst the green of the sofa complements the colour scheme. 

Study Sketch -
Study Sketch - "Are those birds?" by Aasiri Wickremage

Another way is to zone your walls by creating a clearly defined area for the gallery that can be complemented by a different colour scheme. This can also help create a sense of space in a smaller room.

Awareness by James Shipton
Awareness by James Shipton

 

1 Model Man by Toby Frossell
1 Model Man by Toby Frossell

 

If you have a large space in your home, then a range of different sizes and shapes of painting will work well. However, in a smaller room, it may be worth looking at paintings that don’t overwhelm, and it may be better just to use a single wall to create the gallery.

How to arrange your gallery wall

Gather your paintings, arrange them on the floor and see how they look. Keep re-arranging until you’re happy and take a picture to remember the layout.

Following that, start measuring-up and thinking about distances between paintings. If you’re hanging an eclectic mix of art, then give them a little more room or ‘breathing space’ so the eye can take it all in.

Wandsworth Common high summer by Louise Gillard
Wandsworth Common high summer by Louise Gillard let's go walking it is sunny spring summer day pencil ink sketch paper by Elena Haines
let's go walking it is sunny spring summer day pencil ink sketch paper by Elena Haines

If you’re renting or concerned about nail holes in the wall, then you can also create a gallery wall with picture shelves. These are really effective and look great in any room. Large retail outlets, like Ikea, sell a range, and you can buy them online.

A mountain to climb by Richard Freer
A mountain to climb by Richard Freer I'm Half The Man I Used To Be by Laura Kinnell
I'm Half The Man I Used To Be by Laura Kinnell

Picture frames

Since a gallery wall consists of many pictures, the eye is not focussed so much on one individual picture as the impression that the whole collection creates. Because of this, the frames you choose are much more part of the effect than when hanging individual pieces. 

So, if you’re looking for a more uniform look, then it is probably best to use the same or similar frame throughout. But many people choose to go a bit crazy with the frames to create a more scattergun, eclectic feel.

Mix and match any which way you want. Wood frames, next to coloured frames or light colours next to dark. You choose! The only consideration is whether to place deep-framed pieces next to flat-framed pieces - this can sometimes be too jarring. 

If you don’t have the budget for a bespoke framing company, then places like the SAA or Ikea sell-ready-to-hang, cost-effective frames and framing kits. If you’re going for a more aged or weathered look, then junk shops, charity shops and vintage markets can also be great places to buy frames at very low prices. You might need to throw the picture away to salvage the frame. 

Where to create your gallery wall

A gallery wall deserves the largest wall in a room, whether it’s above a sofa, a corridor, bed or on an opposing wall, it needs to be in a place for all to see. It needs to hang where people can stop, look at it and enjoy it.

Gallery walls also work in any room in a house, from kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, studies, offices, or even a downstairs loo, you name it, it will look great.

With these tips, you too can create a gallery wall that is worthy of the pages of Elle Decoration or Homes & Gardens, so what are you waiting for?

Image credits

Houzz https://www.houzz.co.uk/

Sixteen Doors https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/204802-sixteen-doors-eclectic-bedroom-new-york

Katie Ridder https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/354492-katie-ridder-rooms-contemporary-dining-room-new-york

Interior Therapy https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/32478586-buckinghamshire-full-house-refurbishment-living-room-buckinghamshire

Peg Berens https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/116642-hollywood-regency-living-room-contemporary-living-room

L. Weatherbee Design Studio https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/25238829-cheerful-bedroom-with-gallery-wall-eclectic-bedroom-new-york

Turner Pocock https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/10147506-a-colourful-london-home-transitional-living-room-london

Dulux https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/100179-eclectic-bedroom-shabby-chic-style-bedroom-burlington

Heidi Caillier Design https://www.houzz.co.uk/photo/78169808-tacoma-eclectic-staircase-seattle

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