How to Build a Gallery Wall that you love to look at

How to Build a Gallery Wall that you love to look at

Hi! Since we are (still) stuck safe at home, I wanted to share some tips on how we built our gallery wall – from picking the theme, to getting the pieces, to putting them up.

There are some great articles out there on building a gallery wall and I will link some of my favorites throughout this post. I took my learnings from a lot of them and sprinkled some of my own hacks, which is why I wanted to collate this post for you. Here is a ten step plan on how to execute your dream wall.

Step 1 : Decide on your theme

Gallery walls can be a bit overwhelming, so it is important to stick to a few colors that go well together. I found it easier to stick to a theme and center my pictures / art around it. I chose cherry blossoms because I already had a framed photo and a painting by my aunt around it, and because cherry blossoms had helped us get through a frightening time in quarantine in New York City, April 2020.

Step 2 : Pick your main art

Once you have your theme, pick a couple of focal pieces around which you will center your gallery wall. I found Emily Henderson’s post very helpful in figuring out sizing for different prints and laying out my plans for the types of frames I would like to order.

Remember that not everything in your “gallery” needs to be a painting or picture. For example, I consciously decided to make real flowers part of my cherry blossom gallery wall.

Step 3: Plan it out on your computer

Before ordering any new art / prints, plan a virtual wall on your computer. I used Canva to plan it out. Here is a quick tutorial –

  1. Take screenshots / upload images of all the art and prints you want for your gallery wall
  2. Head to Canva and pick Photo Collage in the Create a New Design tab.
  3. Upload your gallery wall pictures to canva
  4. Drag and drop your pictures to the canvas and move them around as you see fit
  5. You can change sizes to figure out what sizes you like as well
  6. Make sure to keep even distances between pictures

Once you have your layout ready, you are ready to measure! I found this easier to do on paper rather than using comments in Canva.

  1. Measure the size of your wall aka canvas
  2. Decide the size of your spacing between art – I used 4″, designers typically recommend 2″ – 3″
  3. Choose the sizes of your biggest art first. Your biggest art should probably at least be 16×20 or 20×16
  4. Once you have this down, label each piece of art with the size that you would want it to be.
  5. Remember, all of the art needs to fit inside your canvas, so measure properly!

Step 4 : Order your prints / paintings

At this stage you should know what art you are going to use and the size of each piece. Now you can go ahead and place your orders! If you are planning to print any photos, I highly recommend Artifact Uprising. Their website is relatively easy to use, and the photo quality is great! I have printed at CVS / Walgreens before and the quality just cannot compare.

Step 5 : Order your frames

I preferred to mix three different types of frames to give the gallery wall a more interesting look. White wooden frames from Urban Outfitters, Brass frames from Wayfair and frameless for a couple of pieces I already had.

I think it is important not to have too many different types of frames. However, using the same frame for each piece could also look boring. Striking a balance is key, so it is important to order frames only AFTER you have figured out your sizes and layout. Emily Henderson’s post (linked above) is again very useful for this.

Step 6 : Figure out how to hang the frames

This was the most boring step of the exercise for me, but an unavoidable one. It is important to hang your frames correctly so that you don’t destroy your walls with useless holes.

The hanging hardware you need depends on – Your frame type + Your frame size + Your walls (plaster or solid). The Right Tools section of this article is one of the best guides we found for hanging. In our experience the D-ring felt the most secure.

Try to use command strips for most lightweight pieces. This is renter friendly and easy. You can also move your art around easily if you aren’t completely happy with your layout. Command strips come in small, medium and large, so check the weight and size of your frame before ordering.

Step 7 : Plan the final layout out on the floor

At this stage you have all your pieces, your frames and your hanging hardware. Such an exciting moment! Your gallery wall is almost ready.

However, lay it all out on the floor (based on your previous design) and make sure it looks perfect! Make minor adjustments as your like and take a picture.

Step 8 : Painters tape!

This step is tedious but crucial. Measure out each of your art works with painters tape, and tape the area on the wall where the art will hang. This will make it much easier to visualize your gallery wall, as well as help with hanging.

Step 9 : Hang your pictures

Remember that where you place your nail / screw will depend on where the placement is on your frame. What I mean is that it will not always be at the top of the of your painters tape.

What helped us was to measure the distance between the top of the frame and the D ring / hook on the frame, then place a line of painters tape at that point. This makes it very easy to place the nail on the wall at the correct spot.

Use a level to make sure the painting is hanging straight. But take a step back and use your eyes as well to make sure it looks good with respect to the edges of the wall.

Step 10 : Enjoy!

The easiest step for last! Stand back, enjoy and admire your beautiful gallery wall! I’m sure you won’t be able to help photographing it, so if this post helped you put it up, tag me (@hertraveledit or @hernewyorkedit) on Instagram so that I can admire your beautiful work too!

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1 Comment

  1. June 16, 2020 / 1:54 am

    Great article. Informative and helpful, very easy, and actionable immediately. Thanks for all the wonderful tips to build a gallery wall with depth details.

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