How to Make a Gallery Wall with Art Prints – 5 Essential Tips for an Impressive Design

Gallery walls are not just for family photo collages anymore, and they are a great way to display lots of art prints in small and large spaces. From a staircase nook to your main entrance, a gallery wall can express a lot about you with style. Here’s a guide on how you may go about decorating a space with a gallery wall (hopefully with my art prints πŸ˜‰ ). Pick a subject to view my art prints here:

What is a gallery wall anyway?

A gallery wall is a mosaic of framed art prints and other decorative objects. Instead of hanging one or two art prints at eye level, a gallery wall uses the entire wall and is a complete decorative piece itself.

a corner gallery wall thomas j story
A corner gallery wall | Credit: Thomas J. Story

Where is a good place for a gallery wall?

The most common spots you’ll find gallery walls are going up the side of a staircase either on the wall above the stairs or the wall against the staircase itself. These are dead spaces that can’t be used for anything because of their shape and foot traffic, so they are great spots for decorating. Another cute place for a gallery wall is in corners, such as a tight hallway or a corner desk. Of course, they can be used to simply decorate a large wall, such as in the entryway, above the bed, or the living room without having to commit to only one artwork.

reading nook gallery wall by emily henderson
A gallery wall in a reading nook. What would this wall look like if it only had the twin lamp? Would it feel balanced with only an art print or two? | Credit: Emily Henderson

Make Notes About Your Space

Once you’ve selected where to put your gallery wall, it’s important to analyze the surroundings. First, I would check if your gallery wall can even be viewed properly from different angles. It’s awkward when a space is so narrow, a person stands too close to the art and can’t view it properly. In that case, it’s probably better to only hang a few small pieces you can see better up close.

Take note of what colors, textures, and patterns are in the space. It’s nice to hang artwork you like, however if it makes your space feel chaotic and ugly because it doesn’t match the rest of the visuals in your room it will make the room feel worse. The goal is for the room to feel consistent and cohesive.

This is a good chance to alternate the decorating in the space as well, like when you realize you have too many clashing patterns or your pillows will clash with your favorite painting. I think it’s easier to find new pillow cases than a painting you truly love.

What do you want to express?

A gallery wall can be purely aesthetic or thematic (eg. there’s red and flower print all around the room, so red botanical art prints it is), or it can express something about you or inspire you. Inspiring wall art is an important part of keeping yourself motivated and a well-designed gallery wall can say a lot about you to your guests. If you have a home office, think of all the ugly, dreary office spaces you’ve worked. I’m sure you want to feel good in your home office work space.

Lets say you dream of owning a beach house, so you may want to create a gallery wall that is beach themed with art of the ocean, some family photos, and ocean objects like seashells. This will remind you everyday why you’re working hard to save through the daily grind, especially on the bad days. You can use your gallery wall like a way prettier mood & goal board.

Perhaps, you have many interests the rest of your home fails to express to your friends, like a love of space and science-fiction. Or, you love traveling but you have a few places in particular you loved visiting that you want to remember. Art prints of Montreal are some of my best sellers because people like to remember their trip here.

Lastly, I think good decorating can heal the soul when you live in a crappy space. If you’re not happy with where you are right now and can’t change much about your life, at least having pleasant decor to come home to will lift your mood.

Pick Your Frames

Now that you know what colors, textures, and patterns are present, you can make an informed choice on your frames. Personally, I think simpler is always better, but perhaps you like eclectic decor and would prefer elaborate, gold frames. I think anything can work, but what doesn’t work is when the frames speak louder than the artwork themselves.

I strongly suggest buying at least 3 frames of the same style if you’re using multiple different frame styles to give the gallery wall a sense of cohesion. Remember that the art print you buy is not your frame size – there is a matter around the image that’s usually several inches. You can plan your art prints based on the frame & matte size, or you can get custom mattes cut at the frame shop to fit your art. Here’s some frame sizes to help you out:

frame size samples for gallery wall
Common frame sizes

Practice Your Layout

Knowing the sizes of frames means you can practice your layout ahead of time, if you want. If you want to just wing it, I suggest starting your gallery wall either from a centerpiece and working your way around, or a horizontal or vertical edge, such as one you mark off with a level yourself or an actual edge of a wall. You can also make a gallery wall that’s very symmetrical and even with same size frames and grid spacing, like a 6×6 picture gallery wall.

preparing a gallery wall

If you want to practice, you can use painter’s tape to mark off the exact sizes of your frames on the wall. You can also cut out sheets of paper or use newspaper/packing paper the exact size of the frame, which are easier to move. You can go a step further and print off a low resolution version of the art prints you plan to buy on your home printer, and practice their placement. This is useful if you’re not sure what sizes of art prints you want yet. (FYI, I don’t see any ethical problem with this because it’s essentially sampling and they will be such low quality prints, you won’t keep them.)

Taking this step isn’t really necessary, but it might save you a making changes later.

Hang it up! Show me your gallery wall!

I’m certain after taking the time to think about your gallery wall like this will lead you to a very satisfying display in the end. There’s nothing wrong with being more spontaneous either. I hope this helped you with your design!

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How to Make a Gallery Wall with Art Prints - 5 Essential Tips for an Impressive Design by Karolina Szablewska
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