Get Yourself a Gallery Wall

Jenny Keenan

There is nothing better than a gallery wall to fill a vast space with pieces of art that are meaningful to you. The outcome is always interesting, so let's try to make the actual DIY task of putting it together less intimidating. When you are looking at your art all together and the space available, try to look at it all as a big puzzle. Everything will fit together nicely once you start to work on it. 



I recently started working on a gallery wall for my daughter's room. She has been making art at her camps and in school, and I have been buying things for her—together we've collected all kind of fun pieces. There is also a great wall in her room that has been begging for something to be done to it. So recently I started having pieces framed. Some people believe that all the frames of a gallery wall installation need to be the same in order to keep some similarity between all the pieces, but I strongly believe that each piece is asking for its own way to be framed... Or not framed at all.


The pieces don't have to be the same type of medium either. For instance, your selections do not have to be all paintings, or all photographs. Actually, I think it can be much more interesting to mix paintings, photographs, posters, and textiles. For my daughter's room (keep reading), we even threw in something from her pressed butterfly collection. Everything we used in this installation has some special meaning in her little life, and mine too.



The above photo is a good example of the different types of art you can use to make a really interesting gallery wall. I especially like this example because of the soft chevron design that the art is hanging on. It shows that you do not have to do a gallery wall installation on a plain white wall—that you can make the room really jazzy but mounting the pieces on a graphic design. This can be achieved with paint or wall covering. 



One of the scariest parts of installing the wall is the actual placement of your pieces. I generally start by laying everything out on the floor and arranging it there first. You can measure the space you have available and arrange the art on the floor in a similar sized space. Take your time and move things around as needed. More symmetrical groupings tend to make us want to keep the spacing between the pieces more symmetrical, while random groupings can call for varied spacing throughout the design.


Another option is to make paper templates the size of each piece and play with them in the space by hanging them with painters tape (like the photo above)This will not hurt the wall and will allow you to get and even better idea of the end result than what you might see on the floor.



Above is the end result of the prevous picture's template. Turned out really nice. This person stuck with all the frames being black, but remember—you do not have to stick to any real rules! No two gallery walls are the same so use your creative freedom to make your decisions on framing and placement. If the wall is just painted and you make a mistake, it can easily be touched up, so don't get nervous. I really like how they have done this on a black wall—it makes the grouping jump out at you. 



To start your collection, look for things at yard sales and flea markets and save your childrens' artwork—there is nothing more special. Try to create things on your own! Look for neat architectural elements or old textiles, find a picture of your family that has meeing to you—maybe it is an picture of your past grandparents or a favorite old dog, or become a photographer! You can take so many meaningful photos yourself. It does not have to cost a lot of money to share these pieces of your heart. 



And finally... it is finished! My Lily's gallery wall. I hope it makes her dream creative dreams! And because this wall is a living and breathing organism, we will continue to switch out pieces as she creates new things. Oh, and I promise this did not take me all day to put together... just a couple of hours, hee hee. So don't be afraid. Like I said—you cannot make a mistake and the results will continue to make you smile!