8 breakable rules when doing a 'gallery wall' in your home

Hanging Interior

A gallery wall (essentially a wall of art that is grouped closely) can be a great way of showing off your collection. You can get a lot in a small space!  There are some rules but feel free to break every one of them!

Like with like looks great.

A wall of black and white photos, a mixture of bright prints, and a wall of floral paintings all look great when grouped together. But so does an eclectic mix. Just don’t try to do both on the same wall. For example don’t have a group of line drawings in one part of the gallery wall and then introduce some bright paintings in another bit.  Mix them up.

Mix up the sizes.

The same size work or frame repeated over and over will look very formal. If that is what you are going for then great.  Gallery walls can also look good with a large piece in with some smaller pieces. The large piece shouldn’t be on the edge though.

Think about the colours but don’t be a slave to them.

Your gallery wall will be dominant in the room so think about what the colours of each work will do. Some will really pop and others will match the drapes. Some will work really well beside each other and some will work well separated. The works don’t all have to be the same colour or even same weight of colours to work together.

Mock it up first.

Lay it out on the floor and play with different combinations and spacings. Or cut out pieces of paper the same size as each of your works and tape them up with masking tape. Either of these ways allow you to try many different layouts

Consider going high and wide.

One of the most common mistakes in hanging a painting is hanging it too high. So let’s do that. With a gallery wall you can go high – right to the ceiling almost provided it also comes down low as well. It doesn't have to go to the floor - it might stop above the couch perhaps. Go high if you want to fill the wall but don’t go high if you are not filling the wall - it will just look like your work is all squashed up to the top.

Some of your best walls will be behind your television.

It is just a reality of modern living. No worries. Do the gallery around it and consider the TV as one element in it.

Keep them straight and level.

You can’t really break this rule. If the works are not level then that is what people will notice.

Hanging can be awkward.

You can guarantee that none of your works will be strung the same way as any other. So every piece will require careful positioning of the hook. This is only a problem when your layout requires all the tops to be at the same level or the vertical spacing to be consistent. The best solution to this is to consider another layout.

The second best solution is to get precise with a measuring tape. This is what I do to set the top of a piece at the right height:  Dangle the work on your finger in the centre of the hanging cord. Measure from the centre of the top of the painting down to the cord. Let’s say it is 35mm.  If you want to top of the piece to be 1600 above the floor then the point where the cord will rest on the hook needs to be 35mm below this.  I simplify this for myself for light pieces of art by using small nails instead of picture hooks (panel pins or the nails from the picture hook) then the nail just goes 35mm down from 1600mm. Put the nail on a slight upward angle.

So there you go. Eight rules or tips for creating a gallery wall. Break them all if you want (except the keep it straight one). Just have fun with it. Oh, and one extra tip; change it every so often. Just rearrange on the same hooks if you want.

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