Creating an At-Home Gallery Wall

We can thank the French for yet another chic idea. The gallery wall, formerly the salon wall, made its debut in the 1600s as a way of showcasing students’ artwork. These displays varied in size, color and content. Soon after, salons served as a source of community engagement offering an exciting place to view cultural, political and thought-provoking art. Placement on the wall was everything—with the best selections garnering the prime eye-level spots.And so it began, the framework for the gallery wall.

Creating a personalized wall

One reason that the gallery wall has become appealing for homeowners is that for many, the art world can be intimidating to navigate. The questions of who and what to buy along with the price tags that may accompany pieces can often lead to paralysis in decision making. Gallery walls are an excellent way to dive into one’s inner art collector as the concept is an approachable way to tackle any size wall.

The key step in creating a striking gallery wall is planning. Luckily there are many online sources like Pinterest or Houzz for idea and style inspiration. What used to be a costly venture is now quite affordable with sources like Saatchi Art, Tiny Showcase, 20×200 and Etsy. Spend some time searching concepts as well as materials on the internet. A good hunt will turn up not only ideas but also affordable art and frame sources that can be mixed in with noteworthy pieces. 

Spacing and design

Next, consider the gallery wall placement and the size of the space. Perhaps a large wall going up the stairs. Or maybe there is  a long hallway or limited entry space that would be the perfect backdrop. Background wall color can play a dramatic part in the overall look.

Equally important is to think about what is being framed and determine what you wish to express. A grouping can have a theme, tell a story or convey an overall vibe. Maybe it’s reframing or regrouping current art. Or if you want to supplement what you already have, there are a plethora of fabulous and affordable online art sources that aid in updating a collection. You can also take apart coffee table or art books that are collecting dust—these can provide amazing images for gallery walls. 

Creating an homage to family can make the most cherished displays. Family photographs alone make a storied statement or mix with children’s drawings and notes to add a pop of color. Consider using similar frames for certain time periods or settings, like family vacations and holidays. Change up the colors or materials to recognize changes in years or events. 

Like-minded frames in black and white unite a grouping of images that vary in theme, size and color.

Perfecting the placement

And finally, consider the impact. Do you see the gallery as colorful or monochromatic? Think about the frame styles too and how they work with your decor. Take note of whether the art will be framed or frameless and appraise the material, size, finish and color. Will the framing be the same or a mixture? All black, white and wood tones, or metaland wood frames with white or like-colored mattes work well in classic or contemporary settings depending on finish selection. Using a variety of textures and shapes is ideal for eclectic, traditional and bohemian decors.

After the planning and prep, move on to installation. Decide if you desire an organic and effortless grouping or a deliberate and calculated grid. If deliberate, it may be worth the expense to hire a professional to assist in the hanging, unless you are comfortable with a “swiss cheese” wall of holes beneath the frames. 

Final touches

One last thought as this project percolates. While not necessarily a gallery wall, another cheerful idea is to invest in a beautifully framed cork board and have an ever-changing collection. Sweet notes from family and friends, cards, quotes mixed with art and photographs combine for a wonderfully uplifting collection. Change it seasonally and for holidays. Get creative with your choice of push pins or colorful tapes to adhere the pieces. 

Like a fabulous handbag or jewelry is to an outfit, art is to your home. Have fun with it!

Pre-planning a gallery arrangement, including mapping out precise measurements, makes the final hanging of framed pieces accurate and frustration-free (for the most part!).


DeeDee Postil Krawczyk is founder and owner of DPA FINE ART STYLE LIFE and on Instagram @dpafineart

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