Words and images by CRUDE Ambassador and guest contributor, Hannah Rose Skolnick. @hannahroses
A gallery wall has the power to transform any space, as it allows for your creativity and personality to be expressed both in the selection of the artwork and the way you hang it. A Gallery Wall can be hung anywhere you would hang a large piece of art. Your pieces for your Gallery can include anything you like, from photography and artwork, to decorative objects and oversized typography. It may seem a little overwhelming to curate enough art to create the wall, let alone arrange and hang it, but if you follow a few simple rules it makes the entire process a breeze and even allows you to duplicate your design in another space should you move into a new home.
- 1 roll of Kraft Paper
- 8-15 Pieces of Art
Step 1 - Start with the Art
A gallery wall should have anywhere from 8-15 pieces depending on your designated hanging area. Depending on what look you are going for the pieces can be as varied as you like. I like to include a good mix of photography and art with one bold interest piece (in my wall I used a golden deer head with antlers). You can choose frames that are all the same color, or use mismatched frames for a more eclectic feel. There are no rules as to what kind of art you can include in your gallery, so get creative!
TIP: If you are looking for affordable frames to create a more uniform look, try Michael’s, Target, or Ikea. For a mismatched eclectic look, try Goodwill or DI for inexpensive frames.
It is always a good idea to hang on a large wall, so that you have the option to continue building out your Gallery as you acquire new pieces of art. My favorite places to hang a gallery is above your TV, couch, or desk so you can use the piece of furniture below as a baseline to build upward. Once you have all your artwork gathered, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 2 - Get Tracing
Using your roll of Kraft Paper and a pencil, trace the outline of one of your pieces of art onto the paper. This will serve as your placeholder for the artwork to make arranging and hanging it easier in the next steps.
Next, you need to mark where the nail will need to go on the paper placeholder. The easiest way to do this is to measure and mark the center of the tracing. Then, measure on the back of your piece from the top to where the hanger is, and mark that measurement on the paper as well.
TIP: Some frames, like the Room Essentials line from Target, come with a pre-made frame hanging template. Great, saves us some time! Use this along with your homemade ones like I did in the image in Step 4.
Step 3 - Arrange, Re-Arrange, Arrange Again
Now for the fun part! This is where you have to figure out how you want your pieces to be arranged. It may seem scary if you’ve never done it before, but there’s a few guidelines that take the guesswork out of it. I like to start by laying out all my pieces on the floor directly in front of the space where I am hanging them. At first don’t think too much about how you are laying them down and just let your natural intuition guide you. As you survey your art, decide where you want the baseline to be. If you are hanging above a couch, desk or TV like I did, the baseline can be at the bottom. This means all the frame edges along the bottom will align, and the gallery will build up from that threshold. If you want a more staggered look on both top and bottom, you can use a middle baseline instead. This means you will have two rows of art, and they will all align to the middle threshold in between the rows. Either way, having a baseline will help you build your wall more quickly and naturally.
TIP: If you are having a hard time figuring out your arrangement, look online for examples of other people’s galleries. The key is finding an arrangement that looks balanced and complements its space.
Step 4 - Spacing is KEY
The next step is what I consider to be one of the most important rules of hanging a clean, professional looking gallery wall, though it is not one many people follow, even the pros. This may also be a result of my career as a Graphic Designer, but I ALWAYS make sure that the space between all of my hung artwork is the SAME. You can pick the amount of space, anywhere from 2” - 4” can work for different looks, but you must remain consistent with the spacing between the artwork for the gallery wall to have that polished look. This is where the placeholder paper templates come in handy.
When you have your art arrangement to your liking on the floor, you will now recreate it on the wall above using the paper templates you cut out in Step 2. Start with a bottom center piece and move outward measuring the space between each piece. For my wall I chose to use 3.25” spacing. This won’t always be perfect of course, but if you stay relatively consistent your wall will look much better overall. During this phase, you may find the arrangement you made on the floor doesn’t work quite as well when you measure the equal spacing, so remain flexible on your design. You can use the templates to re-arrange some elements in this phase to make the gallery work better. I like to use regular scotch tape to hang my templates because it is easy to adjust the template 2 or 3 times if necessary. Once you feel good about the template placement, it’s time to nail into the holes you marked earlier. Just nail right through the paper into the mark and leave the template in place for now.
Once you have all the nails placed, you can hang your art! I leave the templates under the art as I hang it in case I’m not 100% happy with the placement and want to go back a step and continue to arrange. The final step once you are happy with the look of your gallery is to remove the templates, and enjoy your beautiful new wall full of artwork!
TIP: Label and save these paper templates in case you move or want to replicate the gallery in a different spot, it will save a ton of time!