I’ve had an aversion to gallery walls for as long as I can remember. As a child I would see displays of school photos and stiff family portraits in bland frames lining the halls and stairways of my friends’ homes, and I simply didn’t like them. Even to my untrained 12-year-old eye, the rows of photos felt generic, monotonous and uninspired. Well, I’m happy to announce that gallery walls have come a long way. In fact, the creative and artistic gallery walls popping up all over Pinterest and in design magazines and blogs have inspired me so much that I’m working on one for my own home.
Topping my list of fabulous gallery walls are designs by two of my current interior design crushes. I absolutely love the work of Emily Henderson (above) and Angie Hranowsky (below). The way they have used the entire wall, the array of bright colors, the contrast of scale and uneven layout, the perfectly imperfect mix of frames – the overall effect is splendid. And of course their taste (or their client’s taste, as it may be) in art doesn’t hurt either.
Of course, one need not be a regular on the contemporary art scene to have a beautiful gallery wall. Take a look at the two images below. One is polished, the other rustic, but they both share characteristics of having casually mismatched appeal, as if the homeowner gathered all the frames, photos, and artwork over the course of years and then grouped them together.
If you are thinking of creating a gallery wall in your own home, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, as with the gallery created in the entryway below. Diverse artwork covers opposing walls from floor to ceiling, the range of color enhanced by the lavender door at the end of the hall. The collection is unique and eclectic, far from match-matchy, and yet every piece of art looks as if it belongs exactly there.
If the mismatched look is not for you, consider a more formal approach. A gallery is simply a collection of artwork, photos, or objects. Don’t over think it by trying to be more “eclectic” than you really are. A haphazard layout may be the trend of the day, but a series of cohesive images perfectly centered and aligned can be just as nice. I love the modern look of the linear gallery below, with the largest frame peeking up an inch or two above the rest.
Despite my distaste for the stiff portrait displays of my childhood, I do love a gallery of personal photos. Family portraits, travel photos, and casual snapshots capture your history, your story, and your fondest memories. The key to using personal photos is to select images with spontaneity, energy, and emotion. If your iPhone pics capture the best moments of your life, print them out and put them in frames. Likewise, if you don’t have any art, print and frame some of your favorite quotes. Let your personality shine through. I especially like a gallery wall with a few old baby photos mixed in. They always lead to a good game of “guess who that is” when friends come to visit.
Gallery walls are such a trend right now that you can even buy prepackaged sets. A couple of options worth noting are the Gallery In a Box Frame Set (starting at $99 for an assortment of 4 matching frames that vary in size) from West Elm, and the the foolproof wall gallery sets from Red Envelope (starting around $60), which feature an assortment of frames already arranged on a ready-to-hang rod. For an inexpensive DIY layout, I love the range of sizes and shapes in the Ikea Ribba series. Although a bit more expensive, Pottery Barn has a great selection of frames in luxurious neutrals like linen and gilt, as well as another Gallery in a Box option ($149 for a set of 6 frames, $199 for a set of 10).
Once your images and frames are chosen, do a trial run before attempting to nail them to the wall. I suggest placing all of your frames on the floor in front of the wall so that you can easily rearrange the layout until it feels just right. If you are a perfectionist, you can take your planning one step further by cutting paper templates the exact sizes of each of your frames and using double sided tape to test the layout directly on the wall. As you can see from the images above, an eclectic display doesn’t require precise measurements and spacing. Have fun with the process, knowing that whether it is a collection of art, personal photos, or both, it is uniquely yours.
For more gallery wall inspiration visit my Pinterest page: