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How to Create a Gallery Wall

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Want to completely transform a room in your home without breaking the bank?  An artfully arranged collection of photos or art can add life to an otherwise dull space, and it's not as hard as you might think!  Don't miss these six simple steps for creating a gallery wall that you love!

Several years ago I wrote this post about the big giant (12’ wide by 16’ tall in the center—in other words, HUGE) wall, the focal point of our great room. For nearly eleven years now, this space has overwhelmed me with its sheer big-ness. And so, for most of the time we’ve lived here, I have just left it empty and unfinished.

Even so, I had big dreams.

In my mind I envisioned a gallery wall of family pictures on canvases. When we had pictures taken last year at the beach, I knew the resulting images were exactly the look and color I was going for. Even so, the process of figuring out exactly what would work in this oversized space was slightly overwhelming.

It's easy to become overwhelmed when learning How to Create a Gallery Wall. Don't be! Take it step by step.

And then, in October 2013, I met the amazing Dee from Red Letter Words while at the Allume Conference. I explained my conundrum and how my fear of doing the wrong thing in this huge space had completely paralyzed me. She assured me that helping people figure out how to configure their wall space was one of her very favorite things to do, and she promised to help.

Get inspired when learning How to Create a Gallery Wall!

Well. It still took me another year to finally make a decision, but Dee was true to her word. She helped pick out the pictures to use, and connected me to her husband’s company, Unit Prints, to have them printed larger than life. She also helped me decide on the scale (big) and suggested the Amazing Grace art to go along with the pictures, since it ties in so perfectly to my own Amazing Grace story.

It all arrived on Christmas Eve, which was pretty much the best Christmas present I have ever received! The gallery wall has completely transformed the entire room, and I couldn’t possibly love it any more. It was SO worth the wait!

You will transform your space after learning How to Create a Gallery Wall!

If you’ve been thinking about creating a gallery wall somewhere in your home, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, I would definitely recommend working with Dee. She has a great eye and can suggest solutions that you might never come to on your own! Of course, you will still have to do at least some of the legwork on your own!

Here are six simple steps for creating a gallery wall in your home:

1. Get Inspired

If you’re not even sure what you’re looking for, getting inspired by other people’s brilliant ideas is a great place to start. I made this inspiration board many years ago, and would look at it often as I was trying to decide exactly what I wanted for my own space. You might try looking at decorating magazines, or searching on Pinterest.

Getting inspired by others is the first step of How to Create a Gallery Wall. Check out magazines or Pinterest!

2. Pick Your Wall Space

Before you can create the perfect gallery wall in your home, you need to know exactly where it is going! Will you be filling a long narrow hallway? The wall along a staircase? The main focal wall of your living room? The kids’ room or playroom? The function of the room and the size of the wall will make a big difference in what you decide to do. Take note of the size and scale of the wall, as well as the general décor of the rest of the room.

The next step of How to Create a Gallery Wall is to choose your wall space.

3. Decide on a Theme

Once you know where your gallery wall will be placed, it is time to narrow down the specific look you are going for. Do you want to showcase family pictures or do you want to show off a collection of artwork? Do you want a simple, monochromatic look or are you interested in something more eclectic, like my friend Edie‘s wall below? Do you want all frames, all canvases, or a combination of both? What colors do you want to use?

Step 3 of How to Create a Gallery Wall is to choose a theme!

Collect Your Art, Pictures, & Frames

This is the fun part! As soon as you’ve decided on the theme or look you are going for, you can start pulling together the appropriate art, pictures, or frames to include in your gallery. This may mean having pictures printed on canvas or purchasing custom art from a shop like Red Letter Words, like I did in my living room. (As an aside, UnitPrints.com did an amazing job with our canvas prints! The quality is superb and their prices are very reasonable.)  It may also mean simply “shopping” your home to find pieces that you already have on hand, and then just pulling them together in a new and creative way.

Now the fun part of How to Create a Gallery Wall: Choose your art, pictures and frames!

Figure Out Your Arrangement

This is the tricky part—figuring out how to arrange your art in a way that is visually appealing. The easiest way to do this is to lay everything out on the floor before you hang a single piece. Move things around until you come up with a layout that is well balanced and easy on the eyes. Start with your largest pieces as your anchors, then fill in gaps with the smaller pictures.

Step 5 of How to Create a Gallery Wall is to figure out your arrangement.

Hang Your Pictures

My engineer husband would tell you that in order to hang your pictures the right way, you will need picture hangers, a measuring tape, a level, a stud finder, and possibly some screws with drywall anchors. I’ll be honest and tell you that I hung the pictures in our living room by moving thumbtacks around until they looked about right, and they have held up just fine thus far. You can also check out this tutorial for hanging a gallery wall, which I used for the kid’s artwork display wall in our rainbow family room a few years ago. It worked great.

However nit-picky you decide to get with your hanging, don’t let a fear of getting it wrong prevent you from trying! You can always change it if you find it doesn’t look right–there are much worse things than a few extra holes in the wall. (And they are easy to fix!)

*   *   *

A gallery wall is a fun and relatively inexpensive way way transform any room in your home. All it takes is a little inspiration, a collection of pictures or artwork, and the patience to get it arranged and hung!

Want to completely transform a room in your home without breaking the bank?  An artfully arranged collection of photos or art can add life to an otherwise dull space, and it's not as hard as you might think!  Don't miss these six simple steps for creating a gallery wall that you love!

16 Comments

  1. March 30 at 10:13AM

    I love how you created your gallery–I absolutely love how your family pics tie in!

  2. March 30 at 02:20PM

    I so need this inspiration right now. I have a very large, but awkward wall in my living room and this would be a great idea to fill it. It is intimidating, but your layout graphic is super useful. I’m going to pin–thanks!

  3. March 30 at 02:29PM

    I would never have come up with this idea on my own. It looks absolutely gorgeous!

  4. March 30 at 04:47PM

    I really love this idea Ruth! Because of the digital age we live in, most of our family photos are on a hard drive. We also recently got married and again, the photos were supplied on discs. Really this post and seeing how amazing it looks has sprung me into action. I’m going to spend the weekend sorted out some of our favourite photographs and actually get them printed and framed.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. March 30 at 08:41PM

    I did this same thing about six months ago and was so glad I did. I get so many compliments on it. I incorporated canvases, too, and I combined a variety of textures as well. I have a large metal clock as the center point, then I have some wood components and also framed some scrapbook paper that looks like fabric, which is actually what I get the most compliments on aside from the clock. It took me a while to be brave enough to actually do it, but I love the way it turned out. I like your subway signs (I think that is what the black boards are called). I may have to incorporate some on my next gallery wall. I have a huge space in my basement yet…someday! Thanks for sharing yours!

  6. Suzanne
    March 31 at 12:21AM

    This is so funny! I had no idea others had this problem!! Glad to know it’s doable!! Thank you!

  7. March 31 at 07:34PM

    How lovely! What a great way to both fill the space and remind yourself of what you love. I think I may have to start collecting some ideas from Pinterest….

  8. April 1 at 12:44PM

    Thanks for giving me some great ideas. This will be my next project with the family. We have 2 walls that need to be decorated. I love your style.

  9. Nicole
    June 4 at 10:13AM

    This is definitely something I struggle with! Thanks for providing some encouragement to just do it and stop stressing over it 🙂 I wonder would you be able to share with us the dimensions of the pictures you used? Thanks so much.

  10. October 25 at 10:06PM

    Nice display!! I love DIY projects and decorated my home office. I also repurposed some of the old frames and curtain holder to make it a holder to create running medals display.

    Great job Ruth!

  11. jennifer
    December 1 at 10:39PM

    Hi Ruth, what are your canvas sizes on your wall with your amazing grace art.

  12. Ruth, I love these ideas! I am the same way. We moved into our new house 6 months ago and I was able to get a fresh coat of paint on the walls pretty quickly. But now I’m staring at blank walls because I’m so overwhelmed with trying to pick out which pictures and frames to put up. You’ve inspired me, thank you!

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