How To
Create A Gallery Wall
A beautiful art display need not require the help of a gallerist.

Originally published for GQ as part of our weekly column, “HomeWork with TRNK”.

I’m sure you’re tired of staring at that big, blank wall looming over your living room. But as wonderful as a wall full of awe-inspiring art sounds, you’re often left thinking, “Where to even start?”

Intimidating as it may seem, it doesn’t take a gallerist to create a well-appointed art display – just a little forethought, planning and creativity. Follow our short list of tips, and start working toward the perfect gallery wall to suit your style.

1. Find the perfect place

You’re about to invest a lot of time, energy and money into creating this display, so make sure it’s in the perfect place. Choose a prominent spot in the room where guests can stop and stare (a good place to consider is above a short, but wide piece of furniture, like a sofa or credenza).

You also want make sure the artwork is at eye level. A general rule of thumb is to place the center of the display ~60” off the ground. But don’t simply guess – pull out the tape measure and mark off the spot with a push pin or a piece of tape.

2. Decide Your Style: Option 1 – The Grid Gallery

If you generally lean toward modern and minimal, keep things simple with an orderly grid arrangement.

For this layout, use identical frames for the entire display, and arrange them in evenly spaced rows and columns. The artworks themselves can be varied in size, but framed with custom mattes. Keeping to simplicity, choose artworks that belong to a series, or from a single color story. We love the idea of mixing black-and-white artworks from across different mediums – the look is cohesive and contemporary, but with an added charm and character.

3. Decide Your Style: Option 2 – The Collected Gallery

If your tastes are more eclectic, a collected wall is the way to go. For this type of display, there really are no rules. Mix up the frames and artwork across new and old, and from any mountable medium (objects, mirrors and light fixtures included).

For a collected wall, the composition is equally important to the artwork itself. Avoid a wall full of holes by laying out your arrangement on the floor, or by tracing the shape of the frames onto paper, and taping them to the wall. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but it sure beats patching and painting.

Another tip: start with your largest pieces in the center and work your way outward. This will visually anchor the wall, and easily allow you to add to the collection over time. Think of this display as a constant work in progress, and always be on the lookout for new sources of inspiration!

3. Decide Your Style: Option 3 – The Lean

Feeling a little non-committal? One of our favorite looks is the “lean” that doesn’t require any nailing into the wall. Take two to five artworks of various sizes, and lean them against the wall. The key here is using layering as a technique to bring in visual interest. Lean your smaller artworks atop the larger ones, and layer the surface with a few sculptural items like vases, candle holders, or ceramics.

Because you are not putting holes in your walls, this option is allows for ultimate flexibility and you can constantly change the composition of your gallery collection.

While a beautiful fireplace mantle is an awesome spot to try this look out, you can also compose groupings on a picture ledge, shelf, or even atop a credenza.

4. How to Hang It

First off, you’ll need a proper set of equipment. In brief: a hammer, tape measure, level, pencil and picture hanging hardware.

Once you’ve decided exactly where you want the frame to hang, place it in position and faintly mark the two top corners. (Use the level to make sure it’s straight!)

Using the tape measure, mark the center point of these two corners. From there, measure down the length from the top of the frame to the wire when it’s fully taut. (To get this measurement, lay your frame face down on the floor and use your index finger to pull the wire upward as far as it will go). This is where you’ll place your nail.

Be sure to use picture hanging hardware, rather than a straight nail in the wall. The hardware will be more secure for heavy frames, and you won’t run the risk of the nail bending, or coming loose in the drywall or plaster.

Want more Gallery Wall inspiration?

Check-out our Pinterest board for more!

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