How To: Gallery Walls

Gallery walls mean you're eclectic, chic, cultured, and are a social butterfly. 

So naturally, we all have them.  We gather our framed treasures and we pick out our wall and we stand there and then the crickets come.  Where to start?  How to wow our guests with our blasé display of our clearly epic lives and discerning taste in art?

Really, all we need to know is how to avoid random holes in the walls.

Gallery walls can be the best wall in your house.  But they can also create visual noise if not positioned or planned well.  From the experience of the DRH Design Services team and my research, I've complied some helpful hints for a successful gallery wall installation.

  1. There are a few ways to collect:
    • All black and white
    • All color
    • A mix between the two.  The most successful grouping (I think) have a little bit of both- but do what YOU love.  Definitely integrate art.  It ads balance and visual interest.  And culture.  Because you're SO cultured.
  2. Frames + Mats: If you have a mix of black and white along with some color photos and a few pieces of art, try to use the same mat or frame color to introduce continuity.  Something needs to unify the wall.  If you're going all color, apply that same theory.  If you're going all black and white, you might want to consider playing with frame or mat color. Some ideas:
    • All metal frames with different finishes (chrome, silver, rose gold, yellow gold)
    • Varying frame colors; random, black and white, random wood finishes
    • Same color frames with varying mat colors (various shades of the same color, all black and white, or two complementary colors)
    • Do whatever you want. You don't heed rules.  You're epic.
  3. Create the Layout: Figure out how much of the wall you want to cover and find a floor area the same size (mark it off with painters tape so you can get an idea of perspective). Play with the positioning of your frames until you find a set-up that feels good.
    • Try to keep the distance between frames the same (2 to 3" is good).
    • Mix the compositions to achieve balance in content.  Mix the b/w with the color with the artwork.  Don't chunk the art together, the b/w together and the color photos together.  Mix them up!  This is how people know you're eclectic.  Don't miss this step.
    • DO anchor the wall with the largest piece near the center (of the wall or the piece of furniture that it's over).  Near the center.  Not the exact center.  Only the chicest designers know that off-center means you're daring and fashion forward.
  4. Hang the Gallery:  There are two ways to skin a cat.  And three to hang a gallery wall.
    • Ignore step 3 and just hang them up willy-nilly.  IF you trust your eye. It helps to have another person there to help by standing back and commanding adjustments.
    • Create a diagram by having a large paper the size of the entire area of the gallery wall, drawing around the frames and marking where the holes need to be to hang them.  Then mount this to the wall and hammer those suckers in.
    • Cut paper (recycled, Kraft, out-of-season wrapping paper, tissue paper, whatever) to the sizes of the frames, mark where their hooks need holes for nails and position on the wall, like below.
  5. Hang it yourself like a bad ass.  Stand back and be amazed.  Then invite people over and thank me later.