Tips for Choosing Gallery Wall Art

Gallery walls! They were a huge trend few years ago and now some people want to hate on them but the truth -as it usually is- is somewhere in the middle. Gallery walls are a great option if done with just a little bit of thought. They can provide a quirky energy to a room and of course showcase some really special pieces.

Gallery walls can be added virtually anywhere there is open wall space. I find them particularly interesting in kitchens where they are unexpected (because of the typical lack of open wall space).

Today I want to walk you through the entire thought process of hanging a gallery wall as well as talk about how to combine different kinds of art.

I’m sure you’ve seen on Pinterest how to map out a gallery wall with painters tape or cardboard cut outs and while this is helpful for the physical hanging of the art, I want to focus more on how to choose colors and how to combine types of art.

#1 A lot of the art I am showing you can be ordered and printed with varying sizes which makes putting together a gallery wall much easier. If you have original art that you want to incorporate into a gallery wall I would suggest collecting and arranging it (with those helpful Pinterest tricks) prior to arranging your smaller pieces of art so that you can get all the scaling just right.

#2: The styling of the wall (colors, subject matter, shape, etc) is going to depend most heavily on the style of the rest of the room, so take a look at the architecture of your home as well as the colors you want represented in the room. If you have a minimalist studio then maybe some contemporary, monochrome art would be appropriate. If you have a french cottage, find some vintage inspired pieces. It is important to determine beforehand the overall style you are going for so that your gallery wall doesn’t look out of place with the rest of the room.

Once you’ve determined the overall style of the wall, you need to first choose the focal piece or the “anchor”. This doesn’t need to be the biggest or the most colorful, it just means that the placement of the other pieces are determined by the placement of this piece. Here I am using this Randal Ford print from his Kingdom collection:

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#3 I placed the anchor piece slightly off to the left in order to avoid the arrangement looking too perfect. If it was centered it would look like someone just made a star-burst of pictures rather than actually arranging them. One of the stylists goals is to keep things from looking too perfect.

#4 There are different types of wall art and you want to make sure you have a good mix so that you don’t veer toward looking flat and dimensional.

Different types wall art:

  • Photograph
  • Painting
  • Pencil Drawing
  • Mixed media
  • Watercolor
  • Mirror
  • Tapestry
  • 3D objects

Within these types (except for mirror or tapestry) are subcategories of the subject matter:

So for example, you could have an abstract painting, a watercolor portrait, an urban photograph, and a pencil drawing of a still life. The variety keeps things energetic.

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The next piece added is a mixed media original abstract from my Father-in-law David Michael Slonim.

#5 Mixed media means that it incorporates multiple mediums. This one consists of cardboard, ink, acrylic, paper, charcoal, and a paint chip sample. As a result mixed media art tends to have a lot of texture and character.

This addition gives us some direction in terms of the colors of the gallery wall. Namely, warm grays and burgundy. From now on we will only have art on this wall that has either warm grays, burgundy, or an accent color.

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The warm grays in this urban photograph compliment the rest of the colors and I like how the birds in this picture look like they are about the fly into the other pieces.

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This next one is an abstract portrait painting from Chairish.

#6 Adding a human figure into design makes the design more relatable because the human brain is trained to recognize familiar shapes. We see something that reminds us of ourselves and that creates a personal and sometimes emotional connection. Stay tuned for a post and round up about using the human face in design!

OB-Gallery Wall Post6The next addition is a yellow and rust colored portrait paintingThe yellow compliments the rust color in the mixed media and it adds a little bit of edge to the composition.

I realized that the configuration of these needed to change for a few reasons. A) the bottom two pieces were both photographs and both landscape (which means they are horizontal) B) the top two pieces were abstract and portrait shaped. They needed to be separated. and C) the only piece that had any color was too much in the middle. It needed to be moved so that the colorful pieces in the gallery wall would be evenly distributed. So I noticed these things and changed the configuration accordingly. This is why you lay it out before hanging!

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The next piece is a print of a mixed media by Krista McCurdy It has a rough urban feel to it and it hints at the colors in our gallery wall.

I am quickly running out of space on this wall!

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The two additions to the wall are the light bulb print and the large abstract. The colors and bold lines of the abstract were too good to pass up, and the bulb is a very small but very anchored piece and I love the subtle yellow glow.

#7 When you have a gallery wall like this with a lot of variation in the texture, type of art, and size, you need a unifying factor that will help each piece relate to every other piece. In this one it is the framing of the pieces. Every piece either has a simple black frame or a white border. This helps the wall feel pulled together.

#8 Another iteration of the gallery wall is the themed wall. Themed walls can really make a statement and ground a room.

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The subject matter in this collection of vintage seascapes is the same, however it still has energy because of the variation in size, and type/color of frame.

Another option is a wall of black and white photos…

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Here the subject matter and sizing of the pieces change while the type (photograph) and framing (thin black frame) is the same.

This wall full of old portraits is eclectic in its mix of sizes and framing however it still feels unified because the subject matter stays the same.

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A few other gallery walls that I love:

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I love floor to ceiling gallery walls. They can sometimes give the appearance of wallpaper! Especially in smaller spaces like this one:

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I simply couldn’t do a post about gallery walls without including my favorite gallery wall from Brady Tolbert for Emily Henderson. This is a black and white masterpiece.
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The spacing of this wall is really cool. I love how everything is so tightly packed and eclectic. It has a nice mix of round and square framing as well.

What is your opinion of gallery walls? Are they overdone? Or classic? Let me know in the comments below as well as any questions you have!

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