5 Tips on How to Design the Perfect Gallery Wall
One of the design elements that I have always imagined our house having is a gallery wall. When Sam and I moved into our new townhome in Virginia, the first thing I did after unpacking was designate a location for this project. Gallery walls can serve as a beautiful focal point in your home, especially if well-thought out and executed correctly.
Since this was my very first time designing a gallery wall of my own, I decided to bring in experts that I knew would make this process seamless for Sam and I. We partnered with Frame It Easy, a simple and affordable custom framing company made in the US. Based on the premise that custom framing should be easy and affordable, they have been pioneers in the online framing industry since 2004. Not only are the frames we chose from their selection absolutely beautiful, but the quality is truly unmatched for the price.
Unlike other frame companies that can be overpriced and overcomplicated, Frame It Easy lives up to their name by making it easy for you to get exactly the look you want for your home. I designed custom frames within minutes and received our order within days.
Sam and I both learned so much from this project with Frame It Easy, and wanted to share our biggest take-aways with you! From gathering inspiration, to ordering, measuring, and styling, keep reading for 5 tips on how to create your own gallery wall:
1. Find a Canvas
The first step, of course, is deciding where exactly you want the gallery wall to go. A large, well-lit, solid-colored wall with minimal or no distractions like light switches and/or air vents is ideal for a focal point like this.
Choose a spot that is accessible to make it easier to hang your photos, swap out new photos, and dust over time.
The reason we chose our dining room to hang our wedding photos is because this will be where we gather most with our family and friends. It also happens to be the entry room in our house, so when you walk in the front door, now this is the first thing your eye is drawn toward. We love having the celebration of our marriage at the forefront to set the scene and tone for our guests.
When I was deciding on our “canvas”, I was inspired by the Frame It Easy Instagram feed. They share photos from their customers in almost every room of a home that you can imagine.
I highly recommend taking some time to search for inspiration online via Instagram and Pinterest, and walk around your home to see which area may be lacking/needing a little extra love.
2. Choose a color palette
We decided to go with a classic and timeless look for our dining room which is why we gravitated toward white matted frames and black and white photos.
Consider the colors in the room that you have chosen: wall paint, furniture, wood stain/carpet color, hardware, light fixtures, etc. For example, we have a chandelier with silver details, so it wouldn’t have made sense to choose thick gold frames for our gallery wall because the two metals would have clashed.
We have not yet purchased furniture for this room (aside from a light wash, grey floor-to-ceiling mirror), but we know that we want this room to remain neutral and light. Obviously, a white matted frame style will pair seamlessly with anything we chose for the room (even if we decide to mix in some colors down the road).
With Frame It Easy, you have the option to choose between wood or metal, and a variety of colors and styles to match any aesthetic you want for your space. You can also preview your frames before checking out to see exactly how they will look with the size, color, and matte chosen which is extremely helpful when designing a project like this.
3. Use professional quality photos
Using professional quality photos, especially if you choose to have them blown up like ours for a large gallery wall, can make a world of difference.
I would recommend staying away from selfies, blurry or grainy photos, and any photo you may already feel self-conscious in. If you’re open to it, this could be a great excuse for scheduling a professional photography session for your family and/or group of friends, pets, etc.
Remember: you’re creating a focal point for your home to set the mood for yourself and any guests that may be visiting. Getting nice photos printed does not have to cost a fortune, but it is worth the small investment (pssst: you can order prints through Frame It Easy when you pick out your frames to match).
Knowing this, don’t get too hung up on finding the “perfect” set of photos. The great thing about this is that you can switch out the photos anytime you want! This can be a wonderful, inexpensive way to change up the entire mood of a room depending on the season (Fall is right around the corner), or any big events in your life (like a wedding, baby, family trip, etc).
Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to stick to traditional photography of you and/or your family! You can switch it up by doing an entire wall of art prints or posters that you love (you can even frame your favorite book page quote or wedding vows). I decided to frame art prints and posters for my home office space and it transformed the whole room to feel a lot more inspiring and playful.
Our gallery photos were taken by Jade Nikkole Photography at our wedding in Canada (full blog post here).
4. Measure and space out accordingly
PSA: Don’t skip this step! I’ve said it before and I'll say it again - your gallery wall is going to serve as a beautiful focal point to set the mood of your home. If you’re anything like me, you know that it will become a favorite spot of yours for years to come. Make sure that you’re not looking at a crooked, uneven set of photos every day.
Take your time measuring the wall height and width, frame size, and how close you want the frames to be to each other and the edges of the walls/windowsill/floor/ceiling/any furniture. We decided to keep the classic and timeless theme going by measuring exactly 5 inches between each frame horizontally and vertically, and 5 inches between each end frame and the windowsills. We then used a level to make sure each frame is oriented correctly.
If you’re unsure of how spaced out you want the gallery wall to be, a good tool to utilize is painter’s tape to plan out exactly where and how you want your frames hung prior to making any final decisions.
Hanging everything too close together can make it look busy, but at the opposite end, hanging the frames too far apart can make the space feel disconnected. The general rule of thumb, said best by Frame it Easy, is “While it ultimately comes down to personal preference, plan for picture frames to be hung at least 1” apart from each other, and if you’re framing above furniture, make it at least 3”-6” above it.”
Thankfully, Frame It Easy includes the appropriate hanging hardware with each frame, so assembling and hanging them took only minutes once we had measured and planned where we wanted them to go.
5. Preview your wall in advance
Once you have measured for your gallery, carefully lay the framed photos on the floor in front of your designated wall to decide the order of how you want them to hang.
Too much going on in photos on one side or corner can create an unbalance. You want it to be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. The best way to think about this is by imagining your gallery wall as an Instagram grid. (Millennials, I know.)
My personal preference is to place the most impactful photo in the center. Then, I like to declutter by spacing out the busy shots with simple, detail shots in between.
We put each of our solo bridal portraits on either side in the middle horizontal row, my bridesmaids under my portrait and his groomsmen under his vertically, and the 3 photos we loved the most of us together in the center vertical row.
Consider this when ordering prints online; I usually order 2-3 extra so I can see them all together in person and swap in/out as needed to keep the balance while still telling a story or setting a scene.
For more tips and tricks, download the Frame It Easy free Frame Buying Guide! Use my code “ANNA10“ at checkout for 10% off (expires 11/1/19).
This post was done in partnership with Frame It Easy, a simple and affordable custom framing company made the US.
Want more lifestyle inspiration? Read 5 Tips for Thriving in Your First Year of Marriage + Our Wedding Video and The First 5 Items We Purchased for Our New Home..
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xo Anna Elizabeth