How to Hang a Professional-Looking Gallery Wall
It’s one of the easiest things you can do to update a small space.
So you’ve created a Pinterest-worthy bedroom, updated your throws and kitchenware, and otherwise adultified your apartment. But what’s still left to conquer? If you’re anything like us, you still haven’t dealt with those lingering concert posters from college, the chic set of vintage postcards you picked up in Europe, or the messy assortment of photos sitting unframed in your junk drawer. Enter the easiest solution for the most avid visual hoarder among us: the gallery wall.
There’s something undeniably intimidating about hanging a gallery wall, though—even when you’ve finally amassed a worthy art collection (which, by the way, doesn’t have to break the bank). Equally undeniable, however, is the gallery wall’s allure. Decidedly uncommercial, it’s a venue for putting your personality on display, serving as the perfect place to exhibit family photos, assorted travel knickknacks, even three-dimensional objects (read: ceramics and weavings!).
Whenever we try to do our own gallery wall, however, there always seems to be something keeping that *just right* moment out of reach (too many peripheral nail holes in the wall, frames too close together, something). Naturally we assumed that we were missing out on some rigorous, rule-heavy technique. So we reached out to Kati Curtis of the eponymous NYC-based design firm, and Jeff Andrews of L.A.’s Jeff Andrews Design, in search of guidance. Much to our surprise, their advice had more to do with breaking rules, mixing media, and just not thinking too much about it (!!) than precise measurements and proportions. They left us confident that even the least interior-design-savvy among us can master their no-rules approach. We’re going for it.
CURATE PIECES WITH A COMMON THREAD, BUT MIX THINGS UP
“There are really no rules! I have a wall in my home that is made up of vintage pieces, some paintings, some ceramic pieces, and even some old antlers. Mixing sizes and shapes makes it more eclectic and interesting.” —Jeff Andrews
“I like to have sort of a common theme. So the theme might just be the colors that are in the pieces. Or it’s all black and white, but we have a mix of oval and square frames. If there’s a lot going on in the art, then I would want to keep the frame more rectangular and organized.” —Kati Curtis
START WITH AN ODD NUMBER
“I would [collect] an odd number [of pieces]. [Place one in the center of the wall], and work kind of a spiral out from there, then you can leave room on the perimeter to add even more pieces over time. There’s sort of a hierarchy that develops. I may stagger the pieces around [a] piece of furniture, but there’ll be a common line, like there might be sort of visually a line that goes diagonally through that or a square that kind of frames around it.” —KC
INVEST IN A PROFESSIONAL INSTALLER, OR JUST EYEBALL IT
“I recommend highly hiring a professional installer, because you might end up having 500 nail holes in your wall. If I could give one tip [about hanging art yourself], it’s don’t measure! Just make the composition on the floor by the wall, and then eyeball it. Some companies have sets that actually come with a paper template, so you can literally hammer the nails into the wall at exactly the right spot, and it’s all done for you.” —KC
BREATHING ROOM MATTERS
“I would make sure you give each piece some room to breathe with a minimum of three inches between each piece.” —KC
SELECT A SPACE THAT REFLECTS THE ART ITSELF
“For artwork or mirrors, I think large focal-point walls are best. It’s a great way to fill space and create drama without having to commit to a large-scale piece of art. For personal photo walls, I like to utilize hallways and small rooms like bathrooms—areas that you see every day but are more personal parts of the house.” —JA
“I actually prefer not to do gallery walls in living rooms because I find them to typically be larger spaces, and I want more of a bold statement there. If the pieces are [small in] size, [I place them] down stairways, down hallways, in studies, libraries. I feel like you need to get up close and see the art itself.” —KC
FORGET ABOUT COORDINATING WITH THE REST OF THE ROOM
“With art, there aren’t really any rules [laughs]. And all rules are meant to be broken. I’m not one to match the art to the furniture. If it’s a little bit off, it’s going to still look great because you collected it, you put it together, it shows your personality, it’s things that you love that you’ll never get tired of. And just go for it. Don’t think too much!” —KC
Kati Curtis is an NYC-based interior designer at Kati Curtis Design.
Jeff Andrews is a L.A.-based interior designer at Jeff Andrews Design.