Artfully hanging multiple framed pictures on a wall takes some strategy and planning. But, a well-done gallery wall can create a huge visual impact. Here is everything you need know about creating a beautiful wall of photographs and how to make it a standout feature of your home.
Have a plan.
First, sketch out your plan on a piece on a piece of paper with the measurements of the wall. Consider the sizes of your frames and pictures. Glencoe interior designer Sarah Dippold says that, like anything in design, photo walls should have balance, symmetry, proportion and scale.
“The relationships between items within a grouping contribute to establishing a well-paired composition,” Dippold says. “This is the case for any type of grouping that I design, including frames on a wall, items on a coffee table, or shelf and furniture arrangements. The idea is to create balance in terms of height, the mass or ‘heaviness’ of the objects, textures, lightness or darkness and scale.”
If you have pictures in different sizes and don’t know how to get started, center your largest picture in the middle of the wall at eye level. Then arrange your smaller pictures around the placement of the first.
Choose the types of pictures you want to exhibit.
Winnetka interior designer Jeannie Balsam says that there are two distinct types of picture walls: One is a family wall and typically uses the same frames in various sizes (“The layout is usually designed in a deliberate pattern and all the family images are either all black-and-white or all color photography.”); the second type is a gallery wall, in which Balsam says she incorporates photography, original art and artifacts into a gallery wall in an artistic layout. “We gather all the items together and determine on-site the best way to display everything,” she says.
Cut pieces of newspaper or Kraft paper in the same size as each frame. “I always lay everything out on the floor first for best results,” Dippold says.
Once you’re satisfied with the layout, snap a picture so you can remember how you’ve placed everything. You can also tape the paper cutouts to the wall and try moving them around until you find the arrangement you like. Frames should be at eye level, but can be a bit higher if you have high ceilings. Whether you place the pictures in rows or a scattered arrangement, keep the pictures symmetrical with the same distance between each frame.
Where to score fabulous frames:
Identical style frames look cohesive, but don’t shy away from mixing frames. If you choose differing frames, make sure that they have something in common, like the shape or color of the frame. It will give your collage cohesiveness.
Here’s a secret: IKEA makes exact replicas of the pricey frames you see at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware and no one will know the difference. You can also check out stores like Home Goods, Target and resale shops. You can also check out Frames by Mail for a vast selection of frames, matting and supplies.
“I find great frames all over, from estate sales and auction houses to retail stores and custom when I can’t find what I need,” Dippold says.
Where to find unique images:
Gallery walls aren’t just for showcasing photographs. Don’t be hesitant to mix pictures with artwork you love. Frame pictures from your favorite book, botanical prints (which are readily available on eBay), vintage postcards, old maps and concert posters, playbills, etc. The options are endless and can truly be personalized to reflect your life and style.
Need some more inspiration for your gallery wall? Check out these sites that all sell inexpensive artwork that will be right at home on your wall:
- 1000 Museums
- Eyes on Walls
- The Tappan Collective
- Print Collection
- Little Collector