4 Steps to Hanging a Gallery Wall

Over time we accumulate pictures, art work, mementos and decor items that we’d like to display and enjoy rather than leave tucked away in cupboards and drawers. This is often best achieved in the form of a gallery wall. The gorgeous pics in design magazines and on decor websites make gallery walls look easy and effortless. But if not carried out in a planned and thoughtful way, we have to add patching and painting to our ‘to do’ list!

The following steps will help you achieve a beautiful look without creating more work and effort.

1. Size and Shape

The first step is consideration of the size of the space in which the gallery wall will be located; are you going to use a whole wall? A portion of the wall? What is the size of the wall or area to used – is the gallery wall going above a sofa or console table? What is the height of the ceiling?

The overall shape the items will be hung in should be considered too. Would a rectangular, square or circular placement of items work best? Would an eclectic, free form shape be more suitable? Is there a lighting fixture or other hanging item such as a plant that will dictate the shape?

You want the gallery wall to be balanced in the space in which it is located and you want balance within the ‘gallery’ itself. Take the time to plan the gallery so it appears balanced and cohesive and not like a random collection of items hung on the same wall.



2. Negative Space

Negative space is important as it allows for visual movement and keeps the gallery wall from appearing over crowded and out of balance. When hanging your gallery wall be sure to have each item far enough away from its ‘neighbour’ to allow for movement but not so far away that there is no cohesion. I find a suitable, workable distance is 1” to 2” depending on the size of the item - smaller items can have less space between them and larger items can accommodate more space.



3. Colour

In this instance I am referring to the colour of the gallery items themselves. Are the items a series of black and white photos or a collection of brightly coloured prints? Is it a mix of both art and decor items?

A series of black and white photos is simple but dramatic especially if they are all the same size and framed in the same coloured frames. This can be even more striking if hung in a very structured way.

If the items are brightly coloured prints, consider what order the items should be hung in to ensure the colours adjacent to one another coordinate not clash. If the prints are brightly coloured, white or off white mattes and frames will visually create more negative space between the items enabling them to appear more cohesive.

If there is a mix of photos or art and decor items to be hung, what is the most appealing way of structuring the wall to ensure the items complement and support one another. The items should be hung in a way that encourages visual movement around the display.



4. Test Drive

Before committing to the actual hanging of items, cut out the size and shape of each item from craft paper and using painters tape, attach them to the wall in the arrangement you envisioned. Place, re-position and place again. Play around with the placement and alignment of items until you have it the way that is most appealing to you and works best in the space. Once you have achieved the look you want you can start committing to putting each item up and not before!

We all get excited to see the finished result so immediately start putting each item up but if you don’t want the wall to look like it has been attacked and create more work for yourself, take the time to do this all important step! (Trust me, I ‘test drive’ all these projects so you can learn from my experiences!).

These steps will help you savour and enjoy the experience of gathering the items for your gallery wall and reliving the memories each item brings you as well as assist in the arrangement of the items to highlight each and every one in a beautifully curated way. And while patience is required to work through the process, it will also save you time and effort in the long run.