Gallery walls are a gorgeous way to elevate your space while infusing it with your personality — but getting every piece exactly right is definitely one of the more intimidating home decor ventures. How do you choose the artwork? Is there a right or wrong way to arrange it? How high should it start on the wall? The questions can be endless, leaving you totally lost on how to hang a stunning gallery wall yourself.
If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. However, you’re also not doomed. To help you out, TZR turned to expert Susan Tynan, founder and CEO of Framebridge, a company that provides high-quality, made-in-the-U.S. custom frames at affordable prices. And fortunately, the founder relayed some of her best tips to make the whole process easier.
In reality, hanging a gallery wall doesn’t have to be difficult at all. In fact — at least when it comes to finding your pieces — it can be truly fun. From creating a collection that speaks to you (which shouldn’t involve stress!), to her tried and true hanging tricks (beware the too-high painting), ahead are Tynan’s top tips to demystify and simplify the art of the perfect gallery wall once and for all.
Create A Collection
"First—don't stress!" says Tynan. "Gallery walls are supposed to look like collections, and collections evolve over time." When adding pieces to your gallery wall, she says to build it up and out from your original arrangement. And remember — variety in your pieces is encouraged. “It’s also nice to pepper in one or two sentimental pieces that aren’t frames in the wall,” she continues. “Mirrors and antique plates work well for this!”
Tell A Story
"Think of your gallery wall as a way to tell your story," says Tynan. "Add things that mean something to you, like a framed scarf that belonged to your fashion-forward grandma or a menu from your favorite restaurant."
A great example of this? “One of our favorite [gallery walls was] created by Framebridge designer, Kacey,” says the founder, explaining that she made one for Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association. “Kacey created a two-story gallery wall filled with stories from Cary’s years in the recording industry. This included framed photos, records, magazine features, and more ... This wall is a perfect example of making accomplishments and memories last.”
Keep It Low
“People always hang art too high,” says Tynan — a friendly reminder to keep things a little lower than you probably think is normal. "For the initial layout, think about your gallery as if it were one large single piece of art," she explains. If it will hang above a piece of furniture, she recommends that the bottom of your lowest piece hangs eight to 10 inches above the top of the furniture. If your gallery will hang on an empty wall, the center of the arrangement should hang about 57 inches above the floor, according to Tynan.
Consider Your Color Palette
Creating a color palette can make your gallery wall look intentional, though your approach may differ depending on where you’re at in the process.
“If you have the luxury of starting your gallery wall from scratch, consider choosing one unifying element like color palette (all sun-drenched photos) or art medium (all vintage portraits) to ensure all your pieces look great together,” says Tynan.
And if you’re just building it out of a random collection you already have? “You can make your collection feel cohesive through your framing choices. Go with a combination of white and silver or natural wood frames — different widths, different textures, but similar color and tone.” And yes, you can mix metallic frames, she says — as long as you follow one rule. “Silver and gold look great together and so do silver and rose gold, but gold and rose gold do not.”
Lay It Out
Even Tynan admits that hanging a gallery wall is intimidating. Thankfully, she has plenty of tricks to make it easier.
If you’re looking to create a grid, one of the simplest solutions is to opt for Framebridge’s line of gallery walls, which the founder explains includes life-sized hanging guides that show exactly where to place each nail and frame. If you decide not to go that route, a little DIY is in order. “If you aren’t using a Framebridge hanging guide, you can cut out newspaper shapes that exactly match the size of each frame and place them on the wall,” she continues. “This will help you get a better idea for how the finished wall will look.”
For those going for an organic look, Tynan says you’ll probably have an easier time since there’s less pressure to be precise. “For a collected look, you don’t want the outer edges of your arrangement to be square; you want them to be imperfect so you can add new pieces as you get them. I tend to map out the wall on the floor in front of the wall,” she says. Just make sure to keep two inches in between each piece; this will ensure your arrangement “looks intentional and maintains a degree of consistency no matter how big it gets.”
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