Where we live should reflect who we are, so I recently made it a goal to make my home feel more like me. I wanted a simple weekend project that would let me personalize my space and show off a few of my favorite things without breaking the bank. The solution? A gallery wall — a curated collection of photos, art and other items arranged together. “Gallery walls are a fantastic way not only to add personality to a space but to tell a story,” says O. Stephanie Beverly, owner and principal interior designer at Twelve15 Design Studio.
Telling that story is easier than you might think. Consider the materials you have available and your budget. Beverly’s advice is to ask yourself a few questions as you begin to design your wall. “Is there a visual hierarchy? Are you color blocking images? Will your gallery wall be more organic, or will it be organized and symmetrical with equal spacing? Take into consideration the overall space and room type and how the gallery wall would change the space,” Beverly says.
Gallery walls are a fantastic way not only to add personality to a space but to tell a story.
Popular spots for a gallery wall include above a couch in the living room, along a hallway and climbing diagonally up the stairs. I chose a wall above a credenza that I love, which happens to be one of the first things you see when you walk into my home. For materials, I wanted to use as many things from around the house as possible so that I could stay under $50 for the entire project.
You can buy new art or save some money and use things you already have. I picked family photos from photo albums, old quirky postcards that I’d held onto, and some art and prints that were collecting dust in storage. Family photos, magazine covers, drawings, records, postcards, fabrics, flat baskets or anything that catches your eye can go on the wall.
While it’s easy to find inexpensive frames (check thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist, discount furniture and home décor stores, craft stores or friends looking to declutter), ornate frames tend to cost more money. Since I was trying to stick to my budget, I used some old frames I had around the house and picked some up at a craft store (with a coupon!).
To avoid being overwhelmed with all the options, look for easier ways to get the wall you want. “Nowadays, stores like HomeGoods and Michaels have kits of gallery wall frames that include templates if you’re having a challenging time with framing options,” Beverly says.
It might be tempting to wing it, but before you hang anything on the wall, try a few ideas out first. “Use a roll of craft paper to trace your frames, and experiment with layout and spacing options prior to nailing holes in the wall,” Beverly says, a tip I highly recommend, especially if you’re like me and err on the indecisive side.
I picked family photos from photo albums, old quirky postcards that I’d held onto, and some art and prints that were collecting dust in storage. Family photos, magazine covers, drawings, records, postcards, fabrics, flat baskets or anything that catches your eye can go on the wall.
One approach that simplified how I created my wall was by starting with my largest piece of art and building around it. The more I moved things around, the easier it was to visualize the final look and choose a layout. You can start with a general shape you’d like the overall wall to have and fit the images into that, try a grid formation or have a more informal shaping. Look at blogs or social media posts for inspiration to see examples of what other people have done.
Removable or temporary mounting supplies (adhesive strips, hook and loop fastener strips, adhesive hooks and hangers, adhesive putty, magnetic strips, even ladder shelving) are great for minimizing damage. But if you aren’t worried about the drywall, use small nails or frame-hanging equipment, depending on the size of the pieces you choose. Beverly suggests using a level to make sure that everything is straight when it goes on the wall.
And that’s it! Whether you’re looking for a new Zoom background to subtly show off your interests to your colleagues, a conversation starter when friends come to visit, or simply some great art to admire as you walk up your stairs, your gallery wall is a chance for you to express yourself.
In colder and darker months, my decor preference tends to lean toward moody maximalism, so my wall has a lot of green, gold and black pieces spaced tightly together. When spring and summer roll around, I’ll switch it up and add more bold pops of color. (It’ll still be maximalist in style; I can’t seem to get rid of anything and I want to display it all!)
No matter your vibe, there’s no wrong way to do it. Trust yourself and the process and you’ll end up with a wall that fits your space perfectly.