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how to hang a gallery wall

March 1, 2011 5 comments

Back in January I did a post on my love for gallery walls (you can read that here).  I subsequently received an email from a reader asking me how to go about hanging a gallery wall, so I thought I’d share my response with you.

Dayna,
I really enjoyed your post on gallery walls and I have a couple of questions on the do’s and don’ts  of a putting together a gallery wall.   We recently received a sketch of our baby boy, which we will have framed.  I was thinking of putting together a gallery wall around the sketch.  Can you do a gallery wall with family pictures or is it better with more abstract art?  Should there be a theme to the pictures/art pieces or does anything go?  I noticed you lined up your frames so that the whole thing is symmetrical.  Are there any “rules” around how to put the pieces together? Thanks in advance for your advice. – S.


Well, the short answer is – there are no rules.  Sorry!  Can you use family photographs?  Yes. Should you use abstract art? Sure. Can you mix family photographs and art? Of course. There are so many different styles gallery walls, it really boils down to your own personal style, what you are working with, and where you are hanging your gallery.

A traditional approach to the gallery wall is a collection of family photos. Classic. Here are a few examples:

Notice in the example above, the grouping is centered along two horizontal parallel lines. These act as guidelines for hanging the pictures above and below.  The frames are all different sizes but the common colour (black) gives it a unified look. The example below follows similar guidelines, but since all the frames are the same width and the resulting look is a little more grid-like.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the gallery wall where anything goes – mixed media, mixed frames, mixed sizes.  This also works.  To hang this type of gallery wall, I would suggest you start by deciding where you want your largest pieces to hang, then work around them (remember, the largest piece does not have to go in the centre!)


A great alternative to the gallery wall is a photo ledge (or multiple ledges).  A photo ledge is less committal since you can switch up your art any time and you won’t make multiple holes in your wall.  Space-wise, a ledge or two can be a great addition in a small space, such as a nook in the kitchen or in an entryway.

A few additional tips on gallery walls:

  • A quick way to plot out your gallery on the wall: trace your frames onto paper then tape these silhouettes up on your wall with masking tape; move them around until you are happy with the layout, then get hanging
  • For a step-by-step to hanging a gallery wall, check out the instructions over at Brooklyn Limestone
  • Ikea is a great place to purchase frames for a gallery wall. Multiple sizes in each collection, inexpensive and you can switch out your art whenever you feel like a change
  • If you have old frames hanging around the house, consider freshening them up with a new coat of paint
  • Don’t stick to photographs and art, you can also frame sentimental objects in a shadow box
  • If you need a punch of colour or pattern, consider framing a swatch of fabric or a decorative piece of paper (scrapbook paper works great)
  • If you need to supplement your current collection, Etsy is an amazing source for unique, handmade, or personalized artwork. And much of it is inexpensive!

(images: 1-made by girl, 2- pure style home, 3-house to home, 4-martha stewart, 5-decor8 , 6-hgtv, 7-ivillage, 8-design crisis, 9-the creative mama , 10-west elm, 11-me)

[diy] “where did I come from?” map

February 22, 2011 2 comments

Ok, so to be upfront (in case you are looking for real advice), I’m not helping you answer the REAL “where did I come from?” question.  Ha! I have a few more years before my son starts asking about that.  Rather, I am sharing a little project I did for my son’s room, showing where exactly he came from – on the map.  And since I’m being honest, I should also say that I am not a real DIY’er.  It is more of something I admire from afar.  Not that I don’t appreciate the skill, creativity, and perseverance of DIY’ers, I do! I follow a number of DIY blogs on a daily basis (especially home reno ones), it’s just that I just don’t have the time, nor space.  So this project is an exception.

Here are a few images that inspired this project….

As a child, my sister and I had a huge map book and we would pore over it for hours, quizzing each other on all the American capitals (funny enough, I don’t remember looking at Canada). Maps are cool. And a great learning tool.

Since I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of cash on a giant map or wallpaper, my map project is scaled down in size. Anyway, isn’t saving $$ a major goal of DIY?  I already had an IKEA RIBBA frame (16″x20″) that was sitting around and while I was making an Etsy purchase for something else, I noticed this shop also sold vintage maps of Canada for only $5.00.  Score. $5.00 was the total cost of my project!

To give some real meaning to this project, I decided to use only maps that had meaning to our little family.  I made a collage using the whole map of Canada, the map of Alberta (where my man was born), the map of Ontario (where my son and I were born), and a snapshot of Montreal (where my man and I met in University).

20 minutes later I was done.  Easy! DIY is not so bad after all.

What do we think?

Now, if you aren’t into DIY but you’d like to add a small map to your child’s room, I would highly recommend checking out the Montreal-based Etsy shop English Muffin Prints & Posters.

Or if you want to go big, you could always pick up this large canvas from IKEA (78.74″x55″).

I’m not quite ready to debut the photos of my son’s room but stay tuned. For now, you can check out my inspiration board here.

(images: 1-lonny, 2-cox&cox, 3-kids room decor, 4- remodelista, 5&6-me, 7-english muffin)