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How to Create a Gallery Wall

March 21, 2019 / Decorate, Learn

Salon Style Gallery Wall

When a design look from the past finds itself the envy of everyone around you, we have a phrase for that: “trendy and timeless.” It’s a mantle that isn’t easy to achieve. After all, it must be a look that’s both on the pulse of current design and one that passes the test of time. You can imagine it’s a relatively short list of looks that qualify.

So how about a current trend that’s been covering walls since the 1600’s? Yep – gallery walls started in France and have been around for nearly four centuries. That’s about as timeless as you can get. Originally called salon walls, the modern gallery wall is a long-proven way of bringing personality to your wall décor without having to do a major makeover.

If you’re wondering how to create a gallery wall in your space, hang on (that’s a picture frame pun) and we’ll get your inspiration fired up in no time.

Choose Your Style

Choosing which style of gallery wall to create might be the most difficult step. You can literally go any which way you want with your picture frames. In fact, that’s kind of the point, as gallery walls give you freedom to be wildly creative and very personal.

Modern Style

Modern Gallery Wall with White Picture Frames

If you love clean lines and crisp profiles, you’ll want to go modern with your gallery wall. Symmetrical and balanced, modern gallery walls focus on putting your eyes at ease and drawing them towards the photos or prints. Try a grid pattern of six or nine picture frames or a triptych of frames with bottom weighted mats.

Use picture frames with thin profiles like metal picture frames to help create your clean lines. Pairing each presentation with a wide white mat makes for a modern vibe. White picture frames are also a popular choice for a clean, bright gallery wall vibe.

Classic Style

Classic Gallery Wall with Black Picture Frames

The classics never go out of style for a reason. A classic gallery wall is unassuming yet showstopping. It turns your wall into a spectacle without showing off. By using gallery style picture frames and other subtle profiles, it stands the test of time by letting your imagery do the talking.

Gallery style picture frames have square, flat profiles and are often paired with a wide mat that puts your photos and prints at center stage. Classic gallery walls aren’t limited to gallery style picture frames, though, often using simple black picture frames and mixing and matching various styles. Set out with the goal of not overpowering your décor and your classic gallery wall will be a lasting addition to your space.

Eclectic Style

Eclectic Gallery Wall with Various Picture Frames

Now is the time to roll the dice and remove any boundaries to your vision. Throw it back to any era, choose any style, use chunky and ornate picture frames or mixed wood picture frames – eclectic gallery walls give you freedom to be boldly creative.

Cover a wall from floor to ceiling, or decorate a corner with picture frames galore. Your can riff off a central color scheme or photo subject to give your eclectic gallery wall some grounding, or go WALL out with a bunch of eclectic picture frames. This is the gallery wall style for adventurous spirits who want to explore the potential of their space.

Tip – Go Frameless!

Gallery Wall with Acrylic and Metal Prints

A great gallery wall doesn’t even have to have picture frames at all. You can apply all the same principles of creating your wall by using canvas prints, acrylic prints, wood prints or metal prints. It’s an astounding artistic décor choice that works in any space.

Dream It and Theme It

Themed Gallery Wall in Corner

Gallery walls are an open road to creativity, but sometimes they’re too open. A great starting point to hone your vision is to pick a theme to center the gallery wall around. Family photos are an easy, emotionally stirring theme. Try creating a family tree using ready-to-hang photo frames that branch out across a tree wall graphic.

It doesn’t have to be personal, though. Biophilic design is a popular choice that uses plant life as a focus that is even known to promote health and wellness. You can use color as a theme to accentuate your home décor, even going bright and bold with colorful picture frames. Paintings, art prints, nature photography and fine art photography all make for gorgeous gallery wall subjects that you’ll be happy to have covering your walls for a long time.

Tip – Try Templates!

If you’re staring at your blank wall and not sure where to begin – take heart, you’re not alone. There are dozens of picture frame templates to be found that can help you navigate that empty space in a way that excites you. A quick Google search will lead you to an array of options that you can follow closely or use as a guide to make your own version.

Measure Up!

Gallery Wall in Grid Pattern

Measure Your Wall Space

On your gallery wall journey, it’s best to take the lay of the land. Measure the area where you’re hanging your gallery wall, with a focus on keeping it centered above any furniture that may be beneath it. Give some ample space on either side of the gallery wall to be sure it has symmetrical placement in your space.

For focal reference, the ideal height for art on your wall should be 60” from the floor to the middle of your art.

Measure Your Masterpieces

The numbers game is important to play with gallery walls. You’ll want to know the exact sizes of your picture frames, especially if you are using custom picture frames of differing size. Make sure to measure at the middle and sides of the frame. Also measure the length from the top edge of the frame to the top of the hanging wire where the nail will be.

All of our picture frames are custom sized to the nearest 1/8” and on our product pages you can see what the outside dimensions of your frame will be.

Get Some Kraft Paper

Eyeballing your gallery wall is a battle that few ever win. Instead, we recommend getting some kraft paper for mapping out your gallery wall. This way you’ll know exactly where to place the nail of each frame (using those measurements you took earlier) when you go to hang them. Attach the kraft paper map to your wall for hanging your picture frames, and once they’re hanging up, the kraft paper should tearaway easily and leave your wall perfectly in place.

If you’re hanging your gallery wall above a piece of furniture, leave a distance of 6-8” from the top of the furniture to the bottom of your gallery wall.

Measure Between Picture Frames

As you trace your gallery wall, be sure to measure in between the picture frames. You want them to maintain equal distances between each other. If you’re using a grid pattern, all picture frames should be the exact same distance apart. If you’re going eclectic, group smaller frames together and maintain similar distances between the frames.

No matter the style, the ideal distance between picture frames is 2” to 6” apart.

Behold Your Instant Wall Overhaul

Large Gallery Wall with Various Frames and Prints

There really is nothing quite like a well-made gallery wall in your space. You’ll see such a difference in your space – and hey, we’d love to see it too! Tag us in your gallery walls on Instagram (@framingjoy) or use the hashtag #framingjoy and we’ll show it off to our Creative Community.

If gallery walls still seem a bit daunting to you, we’ve got something to help. Head over to our Gallery Style Picture Frames page to help find perfect looks to get your started. Or shop our Gallery Wall Picture Frame sets that will have a new look for your walls in just a few clicks.