We have a bit of A Thing for gallery walls. Looking at this picture of Lisa Dawson’s staircase might actually make us swoon a little. So I thought I’d do a little post dedicated to how to create a gallery wall.
1. Mix it up. (Or go for all of a kind.)
When curating your gallery wall, you have two options: a mash-up (so to speak) of styles (drawings, photos, children’s artwork, paintings, antique sketches, new finds…) or a group of pictures which are designed to be displayed together e.g. a series of photographs or prints.
I lean towards the former – I love a disparate collection, pulled together over the years. I have everything from the painting I bought my husband when we got engaged, a Rob Ryan (the most expensive thing we own aside from house/car), vintage postcards, photographs of the library where my husband and I went to uni, via my children’s artwork (a splendid giraffe painting plus a rendering of Monet’s waterlilies in which I *strongly* detect the assistance of the amazing Montessori teacher).
2. Tie it all together
This is particularly important if you opt for a disparate selection of imagery. You need something to hang it all together (pun unintended). Your frames don’t have to be identical (if anything, veer away from this), but it helps if they feel right together. (Not sure? Start laying them out together – it’ll soon becomes clear if something jars.) Decent frames and mounts help: look out for these in your local secondhand shop (remember: old frames can be sprayed/painted and repurposed) – and contemporary frames can be picked up for a song at (for instance) Flying Tiger and Amazon. (I gave my husband a sketch of our daughter for his birthday one year – and spent years looking for a decent frame. I ended up finding the simple, pared-back number I needed in Tiger.)
3. Grid versus salon
If you have a collection of, say, prints from one artist: same size, same frames, then opt for a grid arrangement (which can be very effective). If you’ve gone for the mish-mash (a technical term, I think you’ll find), then go for the salon arrangement.
4. Designate your hanging space
Where is your gallery wall going to go (this will determine how many pictures can fit)? Marching up the stairs and along the landing (a la Lisa Dawson)? On a slim side wall? Above the sofa? Or just above your bedside table?
Measure your space. Then, mark out your gallery space on the floor. Using either paper templates to represent each picture/frame or the actual pictures, start arranging your gallery. (Being the clumsy type, I’ve always gone down the paper route. I don’t want to smash anything before I so much as attempt to get it on the wall.) This is tricky if you have, say, a grand staircase (poor you…) in which case you will need to use the paper templates on the wall – unless, of course, you have the eye of a genius.
As a rule of thumb, start with the biggest image/frame and work outwards from that. Use a tape measure to keep a uniform distance between the images if you opt for the salon-effect.
If you’re hanging your gallery wall above furniture (a sideboard, a sofa etc), don’t leave acres of space between the furniture and the gallery. It just looks odd (I can’t tell you why, it just does. I suspect there is a good reason, but not being a picture hanging expert, I don’t know it…). And don’t hang art too high – aim for eye level (around 145cm-160cm from the floor depending, of course, how tall the inhabitants of your house happen to be). Unless of course, it’s marching up the stairs.
Terrified of the prospect of wielding a hammer and spirit level for hours, potentially knocking giant holes in the wall? I hear you. Get your hands on Ikea’s picture ledges and you can layer your pictures and then fiddle around with them to your heart’s content.