The Making of a Gallery Wall

Hi everyone!

So I created my main gallery wall on Sunday, and surprisingly I had the foresight to realize that I should take pictures of the entire process (definitely unlike me but I’m trying to get better!).  I’m going to go ahead and apologize now for all the clutter that you can see in these pictures…this new apartment is still a bit of a mess as I work to find a home for everything.

I knew the wall above my Ikea Expedit bookshelf/buffet was the perfect wall for a gallery wall because almost all the other walls have giant windows (which I’m not complaining about, but it makes decorating a little tricky sometimes).  I debated whether or not I should use just one single, large piece of art, but I have so many pieces I love, and minimal wall space, so I decided to go the gallery wall route again so that I could showcase all my favorite pieces.

I think a lot of folks are a bit intimidated by gallery walls.  In my opinion though, as long as you don’t place things too far apart or too high then there is nothing to worry about.  Just go in with a plan, but be prepared for it to change once you get to work.  Once pieces start going up on the wall follow your gut and adjust as needed.  It’s a cinch and you can do it!  This wall took me about 90 minutes from start to finish (including picture taking).

Here is the space I’m talking about.  The door into the apartment is directly to the left, as is the hallway down to the bedroom.

I’m so sorry (and embarrassed) about the mess!

My first step when making this gallery wall was to gather the pieces I wanted to use, and arrange them on the ground to see how it looked.  This was my original plan:

The focal point of the wall is the mirror (I found this at Ross about 5 years ago), so that was the first piece I placed.  I didn’t want it to be too low, so I made sure to hang it at eye level.  

My next steps were to add the “Biergarten” sign and the little German pewter plate that go below the mirror (both bought in Germany on trips from years ago).  Once those were up there I realized I needed another layer of art below the mirror.  My original plan didn’t take into account the height that the mirror should be in order for it to be useful.  Like I said before, gallery walls are organic and often evolve as you place the pieces.  This nude of a mother and a baby was found at a thrift store for $5 and then I got it professionally framed.

Mr. Gazelle (from Z Gallerie) went next because I wanted to work around the bottom and top of the mirror to sort of flatten out the round mirror.

The large, colorful canvas (a TJ Maxx score from years ago) was next.  

Up next was a new favorite of mine: a gorgeous Laura Dro print called Peony in Pink.  If you haven’t checked out her site yet then you’re missing out!  She creates such fun and colorful pieces of art, and she also sells chic lucite trays too.  Thanks to Ms. Laura for sending this to me, I absolutely love it!

The next spot to fill was the bottom right corner.  I had to go hunting through all my other art, and was happy to realize that I finally had the perfect spot for my Stephanie Creekmur “hey y’all” print in gold foil.  It’s the perfect dose of southern hospitality to this Maryland abode.

The little antlers I found at Lucketts Store were up next.  I have a makeover coming up for them, but for now I just wanted them to have a home.  When creating a gallery wall be sure to include items that add a little dimension.  Horns or animal busts (faux or real) are the perfect way to do this.

The next spot I tackled was the bottom left corner.  I had to go find a substantial piece to go here, to sort of even out the large piece on the other side.  I settled on a random picture I found at a flea market in Arlington.  I like to think it’s an Uzbek woman but I really have no idea.   

Up next was an etching I bought in Key West of Ernest Hemingway’s house.  I bought this over a year ago and am happy I’m finally using it.  

Now you see that little space below the antlers?  I needed a small piece to go here, and I tried one square watercolor from Maui, but it didn’t look right so I switched it out for a watercolor of the Sagrada Familia that I bought in Barcelona in 2008.

I decided to fill the top left corner next.  I bought a “V”(Tom’s last name, and my soon-to-be last name, starts with a “V”) at Lucketts Store a few weeks ago, and figured this would be a great place to use it.  I have a makeover for this piece as well, so it won’t remain orange for too much longer.  

To round out the gallery wall I added a small watercolor I bought near Waikiki Beach to the top right corner.

Now if you study this wall, you see that I tried to balance it by spreading out the different colors of frames.   This adds a little bit of symmetry and keeps one side from looking heavier than the other.  What do you think?

Here is one last hint: go buy a picture hanging tool.  You can find one at Target for $15 and it truly has revolutionized how I hang pictures.  There are only one or two hidden holes here that I ended up not using, and those are because I ran into some unexpected studs that prevented me from hanging a couple pieces (yes I know, I need to go buy a stud finder).  

Even though the gallery wall didn’t turn out exactly how I planned it, I’m actually much happier with how it turned out.   I hope you like it and I hope this has helped you gain a little confidence if you have been putting off creating a gallery wall!  Happy decorating y’all!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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  1. August 21, 2014 / 11:15 am

    This is so great! I literally did my gallery wall this past weekend!


  2. August 21, 2014 / 11:15 am

    I LOVE it!! What a creative edge you have! Now I'm inspired to make a gallery wall of family pictures! Thanks for sharing!

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