Build your gallery wall in 3 easy steps
You know what’s worse than a creative block? Not being able to decide what kind of art to collect for your gallery wall. Choosing the right art for your home can be a challenge in more than one way. What’s the right fit for your living room? Should everything look symmetrical? How do you find a frame that goes with the art?
If these questions have been bothering you, you’re not alone. Arranging a gallery wall can be a daunting process, right from the selection of the art to the framing and layout. This might all sound intimidating and technical, but in truth it’s more about your gut instinct than any esoteric knowledge of art psychology.
More importantly, you sound like you need a bit of help getting started. And that’s why we’ve created this simple 3-step guide to creating your very own gallery wall at home.
Step 1: The Art
It’s hardly surprising that the most important part of your new gallery wall is—you guessed it—the art! There’s no show without the main event, so building a collection is the order of the day. Ideas for choosing wall art can come from all kinds of places. But don’t rush online and start buying whatever catches your eye. Curating art takes time, and each piece you acquire should add something meaningful to the collection as a whole.
How to choose art for your gallery wall
- Figure out what you like
All art is subjective, and your collection is no different. Look for works that speak to your personal style, pieces that you find beautiful or emotionally significant. That’s the most important thing — that you can look at it everyday and still find it beautiful.
2. Look for art that goes with your home decor
While personal taste is important, if you don’t choose your gallery art care- fully, you’re going to end up with an odd-looking collection that feels out of place. When buying a new piece, consider if it will suit the decor of that space. It doesn’t have to match the colors of your room, it just shouldn’t look weird. If you’re redecorating, great! The art you pick can influence the decor of your home, or vice versa.
Underlyn’s exclusive virtual gallery feature lets you view all of our wall prints in various indoor settings to see what’s a good fit for you. Check it out here.
3. Keep a diverse collection
Sure, Impressionism might be your favourite art style, but filling your house full of 19th century Dutch-style paintings is going to get old real fast. Gallery walls are their most inspiring when they’re an eclectic collection of art in all sorts of different styles. Go to your local flea market, pick up something when you’re traveling, visit an art gallery. Gather a disparate assortment of artworks woven together by your personal sense of style.
- 4. There should be a unifying theme
I know I just said to have a diverse assortment of artworks, but that doesn’t mean you can throw just any old thing on there and expect it to stick. You’re collecting art for a gallery wall, after all, and that means there should be a sense of cohesion. Whether it’s the colors, the style or the general aesthetic of it, your gallery wall should have an underlying theme to it that keeps it from looking random and thoughtless.
Step 2: The Frame
Once you’ve picked out the art you want to display, you’ll need to put it in a frame. Choosing the right frames for your gallery wall is the next step, and is crucial if you want that gorgeous, premium look your art deserves. Frames can enhance the ex- perience of viewing the artworks, and when it’s an entire wall display, they create a rich mosaic effect that stands out wherever your art is kept. Here’s a handy guide to knowing what to look for in a picture frame.
How to choose frames for your gallery wall
1. Choose a frame that goes with your art
The purpose of a frame is to embellish the artwork without overshadowing it or drawing too much attention to itself. It’s important to understand what sort of frames match your art: lighter, muted frames and pale wood grain favor nature artwork and static images in softer colors.
Darker frames, meanwhile, suit a brighter color palette and even black and white photos or art. Textured frames can add intriguing visual variety to the display, showcasing all kinds of dynamic, exciting subjects. There are no hard-and-fast rules, though, so get experimental!
2. Keep the layout interesting
You don’t have to use frames all of the same size or orientation. Your art col- lection is diverse; embrace it! Use one big frame, two or three that are medium-size, and five small ones to give your gallery wall a personality. It lets you straddle the line between organized and chaotic, and your wall art is all the more compelling for it.
3. Have even spacing between artworks
There’s no rules to how you arrange your gallery wall, but you should main- tain realtively equal gaps between two frames, even in an asymmetrical lay- out. Even though your arrangement is meant to have an ‘aesthetic messi- ness’ to it, spacing your frames unevenly makes it look jumbled and un- sightly.
Gallery walls give an illusion of disorder that’s actually carefully constructed to look that way. That’s what gives them a unique appearance you can’t get with a simple wall print.
4. Don’t skimp on a high quality frame
If you’re going to buy art, don’t splurge on a painting and then get the cheapest frame you can find. You need to use a good quality frame that doesn’t just look great, but preserves your art as well. Frames that use acid- free mats are usually a little more expensive, but keep your artworks from degrading for years and years. Some frames even offer UV-protected acrylic frames to keep the art safe from sunlight.
Underlyn uses only the best, sustainably sourced materials to make our frames, and all our materials are perfectly safe to use with our wall prints and with any other art you might own.
Step 3: The Space
Where and how you display your art prints are as important as the artworks them- selves. Even once you’ve amassed a significant and marvelously tasteful collection, figuring out the layout of your display is still a challenge. Ideas for the gallery wall need to feel organic and effortless, but still be thoughtful. That might all sound very intimidating, but with this short guide your gallery wall will be assembling itself in no time.
How to arrange your gallery wall
1. Match the art with the room
The atmosphere of a room comes from the things you place in it, and this applies to the art as well. It wouldn’t make sense to display dark, moody pieces in the the dining room where you sit down for nice meal, or weird, whimsical art in the study. The gallery wall sets a tone for the room, so pick- ing the right art for your room is extra important.
2. Use a grid layout for uniformity
When going for a minimalist or hyper-modern look, a perfectly symmetrical, uniform layout can look completely stunning. A grid layout is great for simple but elegant art that’s sobering to the eye, lending a sense of order to the room. Black and white wall art especially suits this pattern. It usually makes sense to use the same style of art for all the pieces in a grid layout to give it a sleek, uniform look.
3. Use a salon-style layout for an eclectic design
Salon-style layouts are usually the more popular style because they’re more versatile and intriguing to look at. You can mix and match different kinds of art—photos, paintings, digital art—to create a visually diverse melange. It doesn’t have to just be framed art — it can even be a beautiful china plate, or a gorgeous hand fan that would look perfect with your Japanese art collection.
4. Use a picture ledge for a more ‘ad hoc’ style
The great thing about a picture ledge is that if you have a bunch of framed art as well as some small potted plants or a figurine, you can simply lay them out on an open shelf for a clean, informal display. Picture ledges have the advantage of not requiring you to hammer any nails into the wall, and being able to swap out artworks much more easily.
5. Be experimental with the layout to get a unique look
Before you start driving nails into wall, do a test run laying out all your art on the floor. Switch up the layout, see what appeals to you. The great thing about gallery walls is they don’t need to be symmetrical or all the same size. Your personal sense of aesthetic drives the layout and that means you’re free to experiment and design it yourself.
There’s no such thing as a perfect gallery wall, because you’ll constantly be adding or replacing the art on display. There’s also no one-size-fits-all solution because your wall is unique to you, to your specific tastes. And that’s exactly what makes de- signing your own gallery wall so exciting.
So get out there, find your inspiration where it calls to you, and make your home everything you’d dreamed it could be.
Aneesh writes and edits for several companies and blogs and is the brain behind the poetic descriptions for most of Underlyn’s collections. On other days, he’s the King of the Nerds: becoming a lawyer, playing video games, reading fantasy novels and writing short fiction.