Hidden Gem #3 – Gallery Wall

Have you ever found yourself staring at a blank wall with an understanding that you need to do SOMETHING with it but don’t know what?  Knowing that you have some items that you’d like to display, but not sure how it would work?  Then this blog is for you!  Enter Hidden Gem # 3 – the Gallery Wall!

Gallery Walls are an incredible solution for anyone that 1) has a blank wall they need to fill, 2) doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on art and 3) has a personal treasure trove of pictures and items that they’d like to display somehow.  I understand that they idea of trying to smoosh all of your random things together and make into “art” can be a bit intimidating – so I’ve come up with 5 tips to help you uncover this Hidden Gem and make it a little less daunting and a lot more fun:

1 – Bigger IS Better 

The whole idea behind a gallery wall is to fill up the giant, empty space so this is not a time to whuss out and go small!  There are two ways to ensure you aren’t making your display look puny and underwhelming:

  • Make sure that your smallest piece is no smaller than 8” x 10”.  Anything smaller than that and your design will start to look cluttered and it will be harder to see what you are displaying.  
  • Don’t be afraid to make the channels (I’m not sure what you call the blank space in between each piece?!) larger than 2 inches if you need to take up more space on the wall.  The trick is to try to keep the channels the same distance (approximately) throughout the display – so it’s okay if that distance is 4+ inches, just keep it consistent.  

2 – Common Colors Unite! 

While you want the pieces that you use to be varied and interesting, there does need to be an element (or two!) of cohesion between them all.  

  • Pick art that has a color (or colors) from the room whenever possible.  It will help the space feel more harmonious and pulled together.  
  • Have a common thread – a color, the material, the shape, the “feel” etc. – that is pulled through the frames.  It makes the collection look more curated and purposeful.  

3 – Add Sculptural Pieces

Dimension makes the world much more visually interesting!  Yes, you can opt to do a gallery wall that is very uniform – using exact same frames, matting, pictures and spacing – but that can be difficult to install AND most of us have things that we love that don’t fit in a frame.  A Gallery Wall is a perfect place to put them to use!  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking, but really the options are as grand as your imagination:  

  • Shadow boxes, baskets from your travels, a musical instrument, a portrait made out of macaroni, the inner workings of a machine,  your 8th grade Student Math-lete trophy, or actual sculptures 
  • If you have something that you love but can’t figure out how to mount it to the wall, try using a floating shelf like we did below.  Bonus points if it mimics a frame! 
  • If you have a sculptural piece that you love, but the scale doesn’t work with your design —find it a friend!  A grouping of objects, if similar in size and feel, can visually become a singular piece – just make sure that their overall “shape” (the visual space that they are taking up) matches that of the other items in your display.  For example, we needed to use two little metal sea urchin thingy’s to take up enough visual space and fill in the rectangular shape that we were needing to fill in the below display:  

4 – Symmetry Is Your Friend

I am not often a fan of “matchy-matchy, uniformity everywhere” kind of design — but when it comes to Gallery Walls, symmetry will soothe your soul.  Symmetry, and it’s less-talked-about buddy, Balance, will help make your eclectic mix of items more cohesive and give your viewers the mental space to take in your display without bouncing all over the place with no end in sight.  

  • When you lay out your design, make sure that each quadrant (left and right AND top and bottom) takes up a similar amount of space.  Helpful “gem of wisdom” – If you find yourself not having enough items to fill a quadrant, don’t be afraid to hang a blank frame of the right scale/look to fill in the space until you can replace it with something you love.  It’ll look better to fill the space in with something than to leave it lopsided.(Looking at you, Analysis Paralysis Club – just put up the pictures already!  You can fill in any missing pieces as you go, design takes time to get right!  Also, the reason I can tell you this is because I’m the President of the club and need to take my own advice.)    
  • Balance refers to the visual weight of your design.  You want to make sure that your design is balanced by making sure that there are items of equal “weight” on each side of your design.  If you do a really large print on the left side, make sure that you include something that has a similar weight/size on the right side.  Also, heavier items tend to look better toward the bottom of your design.  

5 – Make it Personal

In my opinion, the best Gallery Walls are those that tell YOUR story.  They have meaning and you light up and feel all warm and fuzzy when you see them.  This is your chance to let your personality shine!  Be unique. Be you!  

  • Gallery walls can be a great place to display those “unique” hand-me-down pieces from Grandma that you aren’t sure what to do with on their own.  We scavenged through a collection of some of Grandma Mary’s art to find this mirror – turns out, it was just what our design needed to complete it!  

If you’ve collected your pieces and are wondering what to do now – I recommend laying your design out on the floor in front of the wall.  It will help you figure out the necessary spacing and you can move around your pieces until you get the right layout. 

Once you’ve got that, you’ll just need a level, measuring tape/stick, screws or nails and hopefully another set of handsome, helpful hands like the ones that helped me out with this wall!  Check out our installation video above.  Isn’t he dreamy? 🙂  We should all be so lucky!  

I hope that these tips will help you tackle that big blank wall that has been rudely staring at you!  I would love to see your Hidden Gems – feel free to drop them below or send them to me at @hiddengemstaging_design on IG!