Three Basic Rules of Gallery Walls

A gallery wall is one of the best ways of injecting personality into your home. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, and by definition each and every gallery wall will be different. A gallery wall is a collection of photographs and/or other artwork and artifacts displayed cohesively together on one wall. I have a gallery wall in almost every room in my house (overkill?) and so I’ve had a little think about what makes them work.

1. Include pieces that you love

Your gallery wall should be as individual as you are, and really anything goes. Photos obviously work well and are core for most of my gallery walls. A mixture of recent and old photos is lovely. Perhaps photos of you as a child or your parents on their wedding day. Prints or original artwork are another obvious choice, but you can find these super cheap in second hand shops, or head to etsy.com for very reasonable artwork from little known artists.

How about getting creative yourself? For a cheap shortcut to something truly original, knock-out some favourite quotations from films, or lyrics from a song you love and print them out at home. Children’s artwork is another lovely one to add to the mix. Favourite LPs, postcards of places you’ve been, or tickets to gigs you’ve been to look great and are part of who you are. Look through your old shoeboxes and let your imagination run wild. Chances are, if it’s important to you, it will look great on your wall and show a piece of your life story at the same time.

It’s important not to rush and just stick things up for the sake of it. If you go out and buy lots of prints from IKEA then it’s probably fair to say it won’t feel like a fair reflection of you, and your gallery wall won’t stand the test of time.

It is also lovely to experiment with objects and other non-traditional items. Wall hangings, display cases for collections of pretty objects and small shelving units make visually interesting additions and add texture to your room.

2. Use similar tones in your gallery wall 

The point is to try to achieve a cohesive look for your gallery wall, to really give it the wow factor. There are several ways to achieve this. In the gallery walls pictured here there is a similar look and feel to all the pieces used. This is generally achieved through colour, so sticking to muted tones, pastels, brights, or black and white for example. You need to be able to look at the whole wall as a whole and have nothing jump out at you. It all needs to work together by each piece having a common look and feel.

I use a variety of different frames in my gallery wall (although sometimes there are duplicates which is fine I just make sure they aren’t adjacent). But the frames will all have a similar theme. In my hallway all the pictures are in white or light themed frames, many of them are new from IKEA, some are plain pine that I found in second hand shops and then painted with neutral coloured Farrow and Ball sample pots I had (is there no end to the uses?). In this picture of the gallery wall above my sofa, I have used lots of old-fashioned frames that I found in charity shops to try to achieve that cohesive look.

3. Hanging your gallery wall

I know some people will disagree with this one, but try to stick to similar size gaps between your pictures. A good rule of thumb is about an inch. My eye is always drawn to the gaps between pictures if they are very irregular, and that isn’t the reaction you want from your beautiful new gallery wall. A good way to go about hanging your gallery wall is to lay it out on the floor first. Make sure it is balanced and that the overall size and shape looks right. Then take photos to work from.

An easy peasy way to create a gallery wall these days is the picture ledge, oh how I love them. The beauty being you can change items around as you get bored of them or they aren’t relevant anymore. I’ve used them above the piano in our kitchen to display my kids’ creations. I’ve popped their drawings into the hinged frames you get in IKEA so that I can replace them easily. Then I add in nice cards we receive or postcards, even little objects that the kids have made. It’s so easy to sit candles, little succulents or string fairy lights along the shelves as well.

Follow my 3 simple rules and I think you’ll have a gallery wall you can be really proud of, and most importantly one that’s as unique as you are.

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