Are gallery walls still popular in 2023, a decade after it seemed like everyone was staggering photos across their walls? Absolutely, says Emma Green, a home stager based in Los Angeles—and today’s gallery walls have lost the cookie-cutter vibe they often used to have. “I’d love to think people are becoming less afraid of gallery walls and throwing away the rule book,” Green says. “I really think that’s the attitude to embrace. Treat them as a lovely opportunity to show your personality or display treasured items.”
While it may seem that gallery walls require large walls, that’s not true. “I think a gallery wall can work almost anywhere, as long as you are mindful of the scale of your artwork in your space,” Green says. “You don’t always need the luxury of space for a gallery wall.” For instance, a collection of small-scale pieces (e.g., letters and photos) can look great in a powder room. Here, a guide to creating a gallery wall that suits your style and your home.
Choose your anchors
You can certainly create a neat grid of uniformly sized pieces, but adding some variation allows you to play with scale. Green suggests choosing where you wish to place the largest anchor piece, then mixing sizes as you arrange the smaller pieces around it. Keep in mind that you may need more than one large piece. “If you have the luxury of a whole wall of typical ceiling height, two or three anchor pieces work well,” Green says. And if you have an expansive wall to decorate, lean toward larger works; Green says that too many small pieces can look busy and cluttered.
Look beyond traditional art
Traditionally, gallery walls feature photographs and prints, but you don’t need to limit yourself. “I love to mix it up and include hangings, ceramics, even musical instruments,” Green says. “Sentimental items, a ticket stub perhaps, are immediately elevated when framed and can provide great contrast to more traditional artwork.” Green likes to vary mediums, mix mounts, and create pairs or collections of pieces within a gallery.
Consider the whole
“This will all depend on personal style, but there are a few things you can do to make your gallery wall feel cohesive,” Green says. First, keep a color palette in mind; Green recommends three shades plus neutrals. Be mindful of your frames, too. “Ideally, you wouldn’t have more than three types of frame together, as it can begin to look messy,” Green says. “A wall of black, white, and oak frames has enough variety for interest, but won’t fight with the artwork.” When your palette and frames are well-edited, it’s easier to mix different styles of art.
Plan, then hang
Before hanging a single piece of art, stage your gallery wall on the floor. “I cannot recommend this enough,” Green says, adding that this crucial step allows you to play around with placement before putting holes in your wall. “Always be mindful of where the nail will actually sit vs. the top of your frame.”
Source like a professional
If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on your gallery wall art, don’t stress. “Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive,” Green says. “I think the most successful gallery walls have a mix of high/low and a variety of styles.” She likes museum shops for affordable, high-quality prints and posters. Online, she likes Artfully Walls, Print Club London, and Etsy (“a treasure trove,” Green says). “I love thrifting for art at flea markets and I keep my eyes peeled for vintage photographs and magazines, which can have really beautiful imagery,” she adds. As for framing? Green says that large pieces should be left to professional framers, but for small items, Ikea frames will do the trick just fine.