When to Use a Gallery Wall
We likely all have those large, often high, walls in our home that really bounce the light beautifully but also stick out as boring, plain and lacking the character that maybe the rest of your home already has or is starting to emulate.
Spaces that often get neglected in a home include closets, stairwells, and hallways. They are the pass through spaces in the home that either serve as a path from one room to another or as storage that is neatly hidden by a door.
A great way to bring character into a home is through wall treatments such as wallpaper, elevated trim, wainscoting and board and batten. I would argue that accent walls via paint colour, no longer cut it in the character department these days. A beautiful green or earthy taupe always looks much more warm, cozy and pollished against fine millwork, trim or wallpaper.
So what happens when your space just isn't conducive to these treatments?
Lets focus on stairwells, hallways and large blank walls.
These spaces can sometimes be oddly placed in the home, appear narrow, tucked away or contain very high ceilings that wainscoting and board and batten just would not work in. Wallpaper can look BEAUTIFUL in any space, closet, room or wall regardless of the ceiling height. But lets be honest. It can be hard to commit to or find the right pattern, it can be extremely expensive to purchase and install (especially if you are unable to install it yourself), and you might not want to invest the effort time or money, that wallpaper demands, in a home you don't own or won't be staying in forever.
So let's examine the power of a gallery wall.
Gallery walls used to STRESS me out! I would get decision fatigue and overwhelm with what pictures to pick and where to place the frames. I would be paralyzed at the thought of a gallery wall and thus many walls in our home that suited a gallery wall design just went blank for more years or months than they needed to.
So here's my tips on how to make a plan and not let the decisions paralyze the process.
1) Pick a Theme
I always lean toward vintage oil landscapes, artifacts and pencil sketches. I used the following images from Pinterest to anchor my theme:
Once you figure out what you like and what you want on the wall, put blinders on and focus on that theme. Don't let theme creep set in. If you're putting hats and vintage oil paintings up on the wall DO NOT suddenly think that you can throw in a family portrait up on the wall in a random Ikea frame. Stick to the theme. Maybe get a local artist to pencil sketch your family photo or print it in black and white and then add it to a thrifted wood frame.
2) Frame, Colour and Finish
Just like the theme, pick a colour and texture scheme. I went with wood, black, gold, and white. And I balanced the colours and textures throughout the gallery wall layout.
I took cues from the Inso photos and the general colours and finishes I have in the rest of my home. Black metal/wood, stained wood, brass/gold and white.
3) Thrift and thrift some more
Your best found artifacts and vintage artwork are waiting for you in thrift shops and antique stores. It can take time to find pieces that resonate with you. When you are shopping remember tips 1 and 2 so that you don't bring home a random piece that doesn't go with your original vision.
Want to speed up the process?
We have vintage artwork via digital downloads on our website. Here are our top 3 favourites from the shop...
Shop our collection of vintage oil paintings at a fraction of the cost and start planning your gallery wall today! Simply purchase, download and print - its that easy!
4) Shop your home
Take a look around your home for items you might have tucked away or that are starting to accumulate in cabinets but no longer look polished. They might just look better up on the wall! For example, the washboard, hat, broom, and vintage butter spoon were all pieces I loved but that just didn't have a home until I put them up on the wall!
5) Map it out but stay flexible
Pick a piece to anchor the wall around - don't have a main piece? Browse our artwork to get started.
I had this large oil painting hung in our stairway for 2 years before I got up the nerve to build up the wall around it. I always just got stuck with the 'what if it doesn't look good' conundrum. I finally got so fed up with the standstill that I grabbed some painters tape and started taping out a rough roadmap. As soon as I finished I realized I had wasted so much time stalling when I could have just tried it with tape!
When I finally started mapping it out. I took the items I shopped from my home (that I thrifted) and started arranging, using the tape as a rough guide. The photos needed to be way closer together than I originally thought. I started to peel the tape away and go piece by piece making sure I visually balanced the textures and colours of the frames throughout the layout.
Notice how I always have one to two other piece separating two of the same finishes? The black frames have two artwork pieces in a different finish separating them and then several frames separating the hat from the broom. This separation gives a balanced and carefully curated look. I also picked pictures with white/cream matts as a way to make sure every piece wasn't too visual heavy or dark.
This wall is like a bottle of wine and will only get better with time and more pieces. We also have another wall in our stairway that I want to continue this gallery wall theme onto. So I can't wait to share the journey with you all over on Instagram as I continue to build up the character in our home!