In an age when so many of our photos are taken with a smartphone and stored in the cloud, the picture wall, a grouping of framed images, continues to be a popular, tangible way to showcase our most cherished memories. Gallery walls can be as eclectic or uniform as you like, and since they’re so flexible (and so easily removed!), they’re just as suited to that studio apartment for rent in Dallas, TX, as they are to a suburban home for sale in Atlanta, GA.
“Gallery walls allow you to display everything that you love in a way that feels tight and cozy,” says Tessa Wolf, creative director of Framebridge.com, a digital custom-framing site. “They’re also a great way to fill awkward spaces in your home and make them feel really special.”
Here are six gallery wall ideas to get you started. No matter what template you choose, it’s important to think of your gallery as one unit, says Doris Brautigan, owner of Brownstone Modern, a furniture and decor appraisal site. “Add pops of the same color throughout and consider where your focal points are,” Brautigan advises. “You want the eye to travel.”
The key to hanging this type of gallery is to space the frames exactly the same horizontally and vertically, says Wolf. A good rule of thumb: Don’t go wider than 3 inches between each frame in either direction. “Otherwise, it won’t look visually connected,” Wolf adds. Also, be sure to use frames of the same size, with a mat for this style — it’s a good way to unify photos that have different dimensions.
If you want to add onto to your gallery wall over time, a staircase style is ideal because “you can build out your wall in vertical waves on either side of it,” says Wolf. With this style, there are no rules — feel free to be bold! “Mix metallic frames together for a bright and sparkly effect,” she says.
A more free-form style like this works best in a hallway or over a couch or a large bed, says Wolf. This grouping might look like the frames are all different sizes, but Wolf suggests incorporating three or four of the same, small square frames into the mix to unify the look of the gallery. “It’ll give the wall visual consistency and will also be handy if you ever want to pull those frames out and display them somewhere else,” she says.
Think about what you want the outer shape of this style to look like, says Wolf. If you’re going for a square, all the outer edges of the frame should line up, meaning that the space between frames will vary. If you want the outer shape to be more organic and free-flowing, hang the frames exactly the same distance apart in all directions. If possible, use frames with sawtooth hangers, which are easier to space evenly. Measure a half-inch down from where you want the top of the frame to lie and put your nail there, advises Wolf.
A square-shaped gallery is perfect above a low bench in an entryway or in a more formal setting, such as a dining room, says Wolf. “Try to keep one consistent through-line, whether that be the color scheme in the art or photos, the style of the frame, or the style of art,” she suggests.
If you have a mix of portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) photos that you want to display, create a spiral gallery wall. “Gallery walls always look more interesting if you have some square, some horizontal, and some vertical photos,” Wolf says. If it doesn’t feel cohesive, you can tie it all together by using frames in one color: All-black frames with white mats or all-white frames with white mats are timeless.