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  • Elisha Rickward

How to design a gallery wall that you love

As you now I’m all about having a colourful and characterful house that doesn’t take itself too seriously. As such gallery wall hangings are one of my favourite things. They are fun, joyous and such an effective tool to create a talking point and transform bland walls. They can instantly inject personality to any dull corner of your home and are great at enlivening boring hallways and stair cases.


So what exactly is a gallery wall hang? As the name conjures up it’s a curated display of art – similar to that as you might see in a gallery. Typically they include framed photos, prints, posters & if budget allows original artwork too.


With their increasing popularity – hello Instagram we see you – there are now a number of readymade sets that you can buy online where someone has taken the initial step and curated a few artworks for you. They are usually curated by colour or by theme. Whislt these ready made art sets (often found on the likes of websites such as Temple & Webster) are an easy jumping of point (and can get you started quickly and cheaply) as most of the work is done for you…they are by their very nature 'formulaic' and can also make your gallery hang feel a like its “straight out of a catalogue” (and not a particularly nice one at that - sorry but it must be said).


So leave aside the kits and have a go at building your own gallery wall - I promise you its fun (and does not need to be expensive!).


So where to start?


First things first.... Collect, beg, borrow & steal


For those of us still in lockdown it’s quite possible, (dare I say likey in fact!) that you have become very well acquainted with the contents of your cupboards & drawers… and found things you have cosseted away – from original art – you know the one …that portrait little Johnny did at kindy, to handmade prints collected as you wandered down laneways in far and exotic locales.


So now you have reacquainted yourself with these pieces (treasures?) you have the beginnings of a gallery hang. If you are a ruthless chucker and have nothing to start with... fear not... you can always beg, borrow and steal to start a collection. Or even cut up a coffee table book (ssshhh sacrilege for any librarians or bookworms I know) as I did below to get many of these images in the gallery hang in my son's room.



Image Credit: www.rickwardesignstudio.com.au


Steal (in the nicest possible way of course) from whoever (Auntie Jane you know I’ve always loved your collection of blue and white delft plates) and from wherever (well not literally..) Thinking more about the 'bagging a bargain kind of steal here'. Never have we been so spoilt with online treasure troves of art where you can search on colour, theme and price. There literally are so many wonderful places to buy affordable art these days – try Etsy, Urban Road, Freedom and Blue Thumb just to name a few.


Create a cohesive colour Palette


Or if you are feeling brave – a clashing cacophony of colour! Colour is such an easy way to bring disparate objects together.


As this image shows working within a limited colour palette is a really easy place to start.



Image Credit: /www.homestolove.com.au/victoria-park-farm-guesthouse-20061

In this gallery wall hang they have kept pieces feeling similar in colours, tone & intensity – with earthy colours reminiscent of nature and pops of yellow and gold to enliven the scheme.


Alternatively choosing a theme around which to base your collection is another way to start as shown in this collection of largely botantical inspired images.




Image Credit: Little Bear Adventures via Pinterest


Conversely in this scheme a celebration of bright, bold colours has been critical to successfully blending a diverse array of artworks.



Image Credit: www.fourgenerationsoneroof.com via Pinterest


Think about layout preferences


Depending on your preference (and your OCD tendencies) gallery wall arrangements can range from orderly and symmetrical through to eclectic and seemingly random (though I assure you a lot of thought has likely gone into that "random" round up).


Not surprisingly more formal spaces respond well to symmetrical hangs where items are often similar sized (if not exactly the same) and in some form of grid like arrangement.



Image Credit: DIY Decorator via Pinterest



Image Credit: The Lifestyled Company via Pinterest


For more fun and eclectic offerings however consider a looser, more organic arrangement.


Image Credit: www.mydomaine.com


Tips for success include:


Having a good mix of horizontal and vertical pieces in your collection



Image Credit: Home of Kristin Lagervist - www.frenchbydesign.com.


Offsetting the larger pieces so they are towards the side not the middle of the gallery hang – otherwise your eye wont travel as easily through the arrangement.


Varying the size and type of artworks – remember not everything needs to be “art” per se. The real joy of gallery hangs is that you can be quite creative in your inclusions – they really are often bought to life by the inclusion of a few personal items that deviate from the norm: a drawing from your son’s first day in kindy, a black and white photo of your parent’s when they were courting, and possibly (if you have watched enough crafty YouTube videos of late) that reminder of your lockdown efforts at macramé perhaps?



Image Credit: www.sfgirlbybay.com


Choosing frames of different colours, widths and substrates – I’m a huge fan of perspex box frames to vary things up. However to avoid visual chaos (unless that is your bag and all quodos to you) you might like to start with just a few colours of framing and build from there depending on bravery and intended result.


Image Credit: www.architonic.com


Plan before you act (otherwise your walls are going to get very messy!)


Now is the time to work out how your curated efforts are coming together on the wall.

There are a myriad of ways to hack out your layout. Perhaps the easiest is to measure your wall space and lay your collection on the floor in a corresponding frame (tape it off with painters removable tape as a guide) and then play….move things around to your hearts content…. I love this part – having complete creative control.. Remember to leave enough breathing space around the artworks – around 7cm is a good guide.


If you are more exacting (and possibly less lazy I’ll leave that for you to decide) you might like to go the whole hog and make paper templates to place on the wall so you can see how the groupings will look as a whole on the wall…. This step is completely optional.


Image Credit: Joanna Gaines (via Pinterest)


Now stand back and look at your efforts and see how they come together as a group – do they relate and make sense to each other? Only when you have that feel good feeling move to the next stage… the hanging them on the wall stage.


Hanging (DIY or call the picture hanger...)


Finally the less fun part (unless of course you are mathematically inclined and love working out midpoints and working with spirit levels) – for this stage you’ll need nails, or picture hooks and a hammer (or 3M strips) if nothing in your collection is too heavy.


You also might like to have a pencil and eraser handy at this point. Draw lightly on the walls where the top corners of the frames will be. Measure and mark how much lower down the picture frame you want your nail holes. Start hammering and get them all up (or do what I do and encouragingly direct someone as to where to place everything whilst you look on with a G&T in hand).


Definitely use a spirit level to make sure everything is straight and when happy with the position plug some blu tack in the corner of each piece so it remains firm.


Of course there are a myriad of how to videos on this execution stage that will be much more helpful than I ever can be… I’m definitely a bit more of a “phone a friend” when it comes to the hanging but get me started on the compositions well that’s a whole other story.


Elisha x


This blog post forms part of our website services and is subject to our legal notices accessible at www.rickwardesignstudio.com.au

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