When we moved in, I didn’t set out to create a gallery wall. I’ve never been one for measuring and carefully hanging oodles of frames. It’s just too tedious of a project, I’m not a perfectionist, and my interior design Pinterest board certainly isn’t covered in images of long hallways filled with frames.
However, when Adam and I moved in together, we both had lots of pieces we wanted to hang and he had a gallery wall in his house previously where most of his photos and prints lived. Creating a gallery wall on a large blank wall in our living room seemed to be the best solution.
SELECTING YOUR PIECES
For us, this living room gallery wall became a home where we merged our styles. It’s definitely a reflection of both of us, but kept in a very gender neutral palette. There are lots of nods to Texas, where Adam’s from, old photographs from Adam’s family, a print that Adam’s parents brought back from Israel, several gun dog prints I found at a flea market in London (I grew up with hunting dogs), a photo from a horse race in Virginia, and a framed image from my first trip to SXSW.
The wall ties together items from both of our upbringings, and keeps them in the same color palette. I think these are the two most important elements in pulling together a gallery wall. First, you want pieces that mean something to you. Otherwise it’s just a random collection of images. Second, you want to bring together pieces that work together visually. These are all mostly neutral in shades of brown, black, and white. I had other pieces that I wanted to hang, but ended up creating a second gallery wall above my desk to house those since they all came together in a light, neutral, and blue color scheme.
WHERE TO HANG YOUR GALLERY WALL
You don’t want your gallery wall to appear crowded, so select a wall that has plenty of room to work with. This particular gallery wall lives on a large wall above our sofa. There was an entire blank canvas which made it easy to hang lots of frames without worrying about a visually claustrophobic space.
While I do love the look of a hallway lined with gallery frames, I’m also conscious that it can make the walls appear to move in on you, so just make sure there’s plenty of positive space before you start hanging. Also, in rooms where you want to relax, you probably don’t want this much activity to look at. A bedroom or bathroom isn’t the ideal place to hang a gallery wall. Stick to main living areas.
HOW TO ARRANGE YOUR FRAMES
There are all sorts of resources online about how to hang your frames, and I’m going to be totally honest with you: I didn’t use a pattern, I didn’t map it out, I just started hanging. I only pulled the measuring tape out if the frame had two hangers on the back. If you have a good eye and feel confident that you can just go for it, I’m not against it! We left room to add more pieces later on, and while there maybe be one or two changes I would make now (particularly the large print up top…), I’m happy with how it turned out.
If you like to be a little more exact, Pottery Barn has a great guide on different ways to approach hanging a gallery wall.
There are, of course, lots of things to consider when hanging your gallery wall. A big one you’ll hear again and again is frames, and keeping those frames consistent. On our living room gallery wall, many of these pieces were already framed, and it just wasn’t worth it to buy all new frames when we will only be in this apartment for a couple years at most.
For the gallery wall above my desk, however, I did have consistency with all white or gold frames. But, if you ask me which looks better, I don’t think I could pick. Because the color palette is consistent in the living room pieces, I think the mix and match frames just add to its visual appeal. If your images work together and your frames work for the pieces, the whole space will feel unified.
Another thing to look for is adding pieces of varying scale. I don’t just mean the size of frames, I mean the scale of the images. A large abstract piece looks awesome next to a finely lined figure drawing. I love throwing in a mirror or another hanging object that just adds a bit of quirkiness. Keep things interesting!