From our first house tour, I knew I wanted a gallery wall in the foyer of our new home. It took me over a year to finally get everything selected, framed and hung and I am absolutely loving the sense of accomplishment I feel every time I walk through our front door.
The process of composing a gallery wall that compliments your taste, the space and contains meaningful pieces is a daunting one. While you want a gallery wall to feel unedited and authentic, a few simple tricks and guidelines can help make sure that it still has a cohesive flow.
In your Head
Pick a theme or color story. In my case, I went with both. I wanted the entry way of our first home to be about our beginning so I filled it with little nods to our wedding and honeymoon. I included our wedding date in roman numerals, a print of a European Barn owl which was our favorite to work with when we did falconry in Scotland, the lithograph we found in the most charming print shop in Edinburgh, etc. I knew I didn’t want anything too bold or colorful, so I decided to stick with some of our more muted honeymoon shots and neutral prints with pops of dark blue sprinkled throughout the composition.
Frame everything. First, let me admit that I did not have everything framed before I jumped to the next step, but I learned my lesson and am sharing my new knowledge with you. Making sure everything is framed before you start laying it out and coming up with a composition will save your living space from clutter and a ton of time.
Decide what gallery wall frame-style you want to go with. Maybe you want the no-two-alike look, or maybe you want consistency. Frames are often the most expensive part of making a gallery wall so keep that in mind, especially if a lot of the pieces you want to include will need custom framing.
I decided I wanted the simple elegance of clean white frames with white mats. The IKEA Ribba frames offer the exact look I was going for and they are incredibly affordable. The lithograph of Edinburgh we brought back from our honeymoon is such a wonky shape and size so I started looking into custom framing. After one trip to Michael’s, I realized how insanely expensive that process can be. A simple frame and mat at Michael’s during one of their 60% plus an extra 15% off sale was going to be over $200! After a little online research I stumbled across Framebrdige and I am so glad I did! Working with them could not have been easier and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Not only do they mail you a prepaid tube to send your print in, they were less than half the price working with Michael’s would have been (even with 60% plus 15% off). I was also pretty pleased with how well their Irving Slim option jives with my Ribba frames!
After such an incredible experience with Framebridge I shot them an email to thank them for doing such a lovely job. When I mentioned all of you lovely people they generously set up a 15% off coupon for all your framing needs! Use the code HudsonGrey15 at check out!
On the Floor
Lay all your framed pieces out on the floor. Play around with a few different compositions, preferably in front of the wall you intend to hang it on. This will give you a feel for both the space and the how the lighting plays plays off of your pieces. If you don’t know where to start, try using your largest piece as an anchor by placing it towards the center of your composition. Stand on a chair and snap pictures as you play around with it. This will give you some perspective and a reference when you are ready to hang.
Now when you are ready to actually start hanging your art you will need a few things.
- Painters tape or washi tape (it’s cuter and also won’t pull down your paint)
- Fancy Golden Scissors (fine, any scissors will do)
- Brown Craft paper
- All of your framed pieces
- Laser Level
- Motivating Bottle of Champagne on Ice (you will be using a hammer so I suggest saving it for the end)
- Good tunes
Trace each frame on brown craft paper. There is a lot of measuring involved when hanging a gallery wall and I love a trick that will cut down on that. Taking the time to cut out each frame will ensure that you won’t make more holes than necessary. After you have cut out your traced frame, lay the cut paper on the back of the frame and mark with a pencil where the nail or nails need to be. This way, when you start putting the nails in the wall you go right through the paper and then just rip all the paper down when you are finished.
On the Wall
If you want an easy rule of thumb when you are deciding the height of your gallery wall, a 57 inch center usually looks best. In my case I wanted the whole composition framed by the opening between the foyer and the living room so I went ahead and found out where the center of that was and then measured up to the 57 inch point and just put a small piece of tape to mark the spot. It took me a while to get the paper lay out just the way I wanted it but once I did, getting the nails in the wall was a breeze!
Lining up the tops or bottoms of frames is a great way to to make sure you will have a visually cohesive look. For example, my bottom row had three different sizes of frames and I chose to have the tops of the three larger pieces all on one line. I highly recommend getting a laser level. Daniel has one that we have used for numerous projects. Deciding we wanted a few visual lines to follow throughout our gallery wall was another vote in favor of using the paper cutouts. It was very helpful to have them taped up on the wall where I could step back and make sure the layout was visually pleasing and that everything was going to flow the way I wanted it to.
Now start hanging! You should have pencil marks on each of the cut-outs where the nail or screw needs to go. As I mentioned before, this part is the easiest and goes by really quickly thanks to all your leg work. If you’re anything like me you will want to put each piece up as soon as you get the nail in the wall but be careful! While it’s a good idea to make sure you got the nail in the right spot before you move on or rip all the paper down, make sure you take your piece back down before you start pounding in another nail. Depending on what your walls are made of, this could knock some of your pieces down. Once you have all your nails in, rip down that ugly brown paper and hang your gallery wall. Now open that bottle of champagne and toast to your hard work and diligent efforts!
If you have been thinking about creating your own gallery wall, I hope this post inspires you to get started! Don’t forget to take advantage of the Hudson&Grey discount at Framebridge with the code – HudsonGrey15 now through the end of October!