Let me start by saying that there are many ways to create a gallery wall and many different looks that can be achieved. This post is only about how I created my specific gallery wall and any tips and tricks that might help you if this is the type of gallery you are after.
My gallery wall is less organic looking and more deliberate in its pattern. It’s a little bit of a grid with some controlled randomness inside the layout. It is contained in the rectangle shape of the whole gallery but it’s not entirely square and uniform. I think that’s why I like it and chose this type – it has a little bit of everything.
Here is my process, step by step:
You probably already know what wall you want to use but how big should your gallery be? Bigger is better – take up all the available wall space without leaving too much wall around the frame. The latter will make the gallery appear small and disproportionate.
Lay out the gallery on the floor in front of the chosen wall space. Place the frames face down in a mirror image pattern of the wall. This is so that you can see the “big picture” of your gallery in real size. You can move frames around and adjust them until you are happy with the result. If you are going for the square or rectangle overall shape, start with the outer frames and work your way in. If you don’t care about keeping rigid outside lines, start with a big focus point and keep adding frames around it.
Taking up such huge wall space and coming up with the layout could be daunting, so think of it as multiple galleries combined together to form one big one. These smaller galleries would look great on their own on smaller wall spaces!
The key element to achieving the uniform look of my wall is the frames. The majority of them are the same color and style, different sizes. Even the sizes relate to one another in their dimensions (9×11, 11×13, etc.) I got those frames from Pottery Barn which is my go-to store for frames. They even have a “gallery frame in a box” package which includes various sizes of the same style and color.
I highly recommend using good quality frames. Sometimes the hooks on the back of cheaper frames are not centered and you end up with wonky frames and a sloppy gallery. You will spend the rest of your life straightening the frames!
Do you see my two oversized frames? They are what I call anchors or focal points. I think you need at least one or two of those objects for building your gallery wall. They can be an oversized letter, or some other piece of artwork.
Another requirement for achieving the uniform look is keeping the spacing between the frames (more or less) the same and not too far apart. If the frames are too far from one another, they will appear unrelated and you will lose the “gallery look.” The spacing I used is between 1.5 and 2 inches. It will vary a bit because you might need to move frames around to accommodate them so don’t sweat a difference of half an inch. No one will be able to tell with a naked eye! Also don’t worry if the outline of your gallery is not perfect – it will not be noticeable or it will add to the visual interest.
The odd shaped or colored frames and other objects bring visual interest to this gallery wall which would otherwise be too boring (or just a different style). I have used an oval frame, a frame with a different color mat, as well as some little round frames with floral paper instead of pictures. These non matching frames also allowed me to fill in the spaces that were too small for my other frames.
If you have a small gallery (3-5 frames) I recommend using pictures from the same photo shoot. Obviously that’s impossible and undesirable in a huge gallery wall like this one. To keep the display from looking hodge-podgy I use the same photo session for neighboring frames to create groupings. I definitely use the same session photos for a frame with multiple opening! Another way to achieve that is by using black and white photos. They will look cohesive because of their tone even if they’re from different photo shoots.
I hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to comment with ideas, suggestions, or questions!