How to curate a gallery wall
Collections of framed photos, wall prints, word art and paintings make for a striking statement in your home. But before you get out the hammer and nails, take the time to plan ahead, writes Caroline Foran.
Have a plan
Here's the thing: the best gallery walls, and even the ones that seem very random, are not. They are curated. They have been carefully considered and planned long before the hammer emerges. If you want it to be stylish, impactful and something that won't give you a headache, planning is crucial. It's best not to start with one small piece on the wall and hope for the best. You'll wind up filling holes and having to repaint over mistakes. Rather, give it some time. Ask yourself the following questions: how big is it? How well-lit is it? Does it lend itself to a gallery? What mood and tone do I want to set?
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Decide on your anchor piece
Visually speaking, there's quite a difference between a gallery wall that is perfectly symmetrical and one that's more relaxed. They are entirely down to personal tastes. If, for example, you go for a series of black and white photos with large white mounts and black wooden frames, all placed equidistant from each other, an anchor piece isn't really necessary because everything matches. If you go for the alternative, however, you will need to start with one key piece that will determine the colour and any themes you want to work to. Again, this is something you decide on before anything actually goes on the wall. This is where your gallery wall can become more personal. Start with something you love, assuming it works in the space, and then you can decide on what will best complement it. Map things out on the floor to see what looks good.
Your frames don't need to match
Matching frames work well if you want a more uniform look. It's neat and easy on the eye. But there is no rule that says it must be this way. More relaxed, bohemian-style living spaces can lend themselves well to a mix of frames and finishes - in fact a mix of frames can create and enhance your boho look - provided there is some sort of consistency going on, either in the style of wall art or with a particular colour or theme that carries through. There's nothing wrong with a brass frame here or a natural wood frame there, as long as you begin by being intentional about colour.
Some other gallery wall dos and don'ts
If you want your gallery to be quite small, choose a smaller wall for it. A few small prints floating in the middle of one big space will look unprofessional and unfinished. If you're set on a bigger wall, work around this by curating your gallery to one side of a larger mirror. Keep sizing consistent. If you adore a particularly small wall hanging, have more than one so the sizing is balanced and the one piece isn't lost alongside a series of much larger pieces. Don't hang pieces too far apart from each other. This loses the gallery aesthetic. As a rule, two inches between frames works well. Don't think nails are your only option; command strips work very well and carry surprisingly heavy weights. They allow more wiggle room for mistakes and they won't damage your walls.