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Tips on Building a Gallery Wall

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One of the questions we get asked over and over again is how do we put together our gallery wall. Should all the frames be the same color?  How do you know where to begin?  Which piece do you hang first?  Is it ok to mix in photographs with paintings and other mediums of art?  While there are many ways to create these tableaus (as I'm sure all of those pinterest boards out there can attest to!) we tend to lean towards the eclectic version.  So if you're looking for something like the Collyer's Mansion gallery wall, here are our tips!

1.  Collect a generous amount of artwork before you begin, and an odd number is typically ideal.  I would start with at least 5 -7 pieces of art minimum (there is no max!)  You need enough pieces to make an impact and to visually hold that space.

2.  We prefer a mixed bag of frames, and a balanced one!  Lots of gallery walls will either have all black or all white frames, which is totally fine, but if you are looking for the eclectic & collected look, then you definitely need a variety of woods.  We typically always have a fairly even amount of black, white, cherry or darker wood tone, and then a few light oak as well.  Maybe a gold or metallic frame too!  It's nice to have at least 2 of a style of frame so that it has a "friend" as we like to call it:) on the wall to help create balance throughout.  If you have all white frames and then one odd ball natural wood, it won't really fit in. It has to be a nice mix or you are better off to go the singular color/style route.

3.  Variety of sizes is important!  Catching onto the theme here?  Variety!  Not only a variety of frame styles, but a variety of frame sizes is really important.  You need a couple of pieces that are larger (16 x 20 or 18 x 24) to really ground the wall, and then several pieces that are medium sized (11 x 14, 8 x 10, etc.), and then a few small little mini pieces (5 x 7 and smaller) to create interest and contrast. It will feel more balanced and fall into place more easily if you have different sizes to choose from as you move along.

4.  Horizontal & Vertical - variety time!  You need pieces that are both horizontal and vertical.  Think of it like Tetris!  Once you start piecing your artwork puzzle together you may have a "hole" that needs to be filled with something specifically vertical. You don't want it to be all one or the other or, otherwise, it won't look balanced, eclectic, or collected, it will just look off.

5.  Include Mementos, Objects, & Oddities - One of the aspects we like most about gallery walls is that personal eclectic touch.  Maybe it's a framed card that means something special to you, a bouquet of dried flowers, a wall pocket or hanging vase, a ceramic piece or plate, a papier mache object (or animal!), an antique mirror that's been passed down, or any of the above!  It's always interesting to the eye to catch something that's not in a frame or on a canvas.

6.  Try to include a painting or two!  Speaking of canvases, while framed pieces of work are often a little less expensive and easier to come by, including a couple of good acrylic or oil paintings always creates a nice contrast and makes those pieces behind glass stand out even more.  Paintings look very rich in color and texture!

7.  Where to begin?  I personally always find it easiest to start in a top corner, be it right or left, and make my way down and then across.  I find it best to not line frames up, or else everything will look like it's on a grid.  Center some pieces above or below a piece and then the next one will be a little off which is nice and will get you started on that "Tetris-y" look and feel.  Try to keep an even amount of space in between but it doesn't have to be a hard or fast 2".  We tend to eyeball everything and go with our gut (I know, I know... it's a lot easier said than done :).  I would say 2-3.5" in between is usually a good rule of thumb.  You want the artwork to be close enough to relate to one another, but not so close that you can't take either one in individually or that they take away from one another.  If you get to a weird spot where it feels like nothing fits or you have a dreaded "hole" that needs to be filled, have no fear those mementos, oddities, and objects are here!  Or that mini sized art!  These are great places to fill in with a little mirror, key, or papier mache mount!  Also be sure to spread out your largest sized artwork.  If you have two 18 x 24 pieces make sure they are far enough apart that they create balance in the wall.  If they are both on one side and the rest of the wall is filled with smaller work it will feel heavy on that side and cluttered on the other.   

So what do you think? Ready to tackle your own CM style gallery wall?!:)

 

 

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