Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Epic Gallery Wall

I'm so excited because it's time for my long awaited blog post about my gallery wall! I received my final piece of art in the mail on Saturday and now the wall is complete! There are 3 main steps I did when creating my gallery wall. 

1. Determine how much art you need and collect it!
2. Map out your layout
3. Hang the frames

It is a lot of work but is such a cool feature that it is really worth it! So let's get started!

Step 1: 

I started collecting and curating my art collection for the wall over the summer. I scoured etsy and other art websites for pieces that I thought were really fun and that would go nicely together. After I had collected what I thought was a decent amount, I realized I needed a visual way to figure out how many more pieces I needed. I used the left over kraft paper from our 2D Christmas Tree to visually represent the scale of the gallery wall. 

I took some of the oddly shaped pieces and traced them on the kraft paper. I did the same for the frames that I already had on hand. After all of the frames were traced, I cut them out. 

With the help of my crafting side kicks and my measuring tape, I drew out several standard size rectangles that art comes in (5x7, 8x10, 11x17) allowing for a couple inches on each side for the frame. Then I taped my kraft paper templates up on the wall in a haphazard pattern. 

Seeing all of the templates on the wall was so surprising! It covered much less of the wall than I anticipated. So, I went back to collecting more art. I made my 5 DIY pieces (for fun and to keep costs down) and ordered personal photos to be printed. When I finally bought all my frames (with major help from holiday clearances!) it was time to put the art in and determine what the layout should be.

Step 2:

It's important to map out your layout before you start putting holes in your wall. With having 35 different items needing to be hung, this was not the time to wing it! In order to gauge the space I had to fill on the wall, I used my handy dandy measuring tape to first measure the height of the part of the wall I wanted to cover. I measured about 6 inches above the couch to about 6 inches below the ceiling. I then took my measuring tape to my bedroom and laid it down where I had cleared space. Since I only had one measuring tape, I put one frame at the top of the tape, and one at the bottom to hold the vertical space while I went back to measure the horizontal.

Then I measured the entire wall horizontally and laid the measuring tape out for reference. Yes, my design assistants are never too far away waiting to lend a helping hand (or mouth in the case)!

Next comes the fun but difficult part! Start laying out all of your art and try to arrange a pattern that is pleasing to your eye! There are a few guidelines on this. First, it's easiest to start with the biggest pieces. You don't want them all grouped together because that will make your arrangement look unbalanced. You want to spread them out. Second, if you have repeating colors, patterns, or types of art, you'll want to scatter those throughout the wall evenly as well. I had two impactful navy pieces, a few gold pieces, and several pieces that I made. Since I had my Michigan art anchoring the bottom right of the wall, I needed to place my other navy piece on the opposite side and toward the top. This keeps the wall from feeling too heavy on one side. Also important was to scatter the gold pieces throughout. Placing an accent color throughout the entire gallery causes your eye to keep moving around the wall.

Lastly, here's a tip that I learned AFTER we put the gallery wall up. According to a designer whose blog I read, the left side of any composition can hold more visual weight and feels more comfortable to the eye. Thus, you want to place your heavier pieces/arrangements on the left side of any composition you're putting together. Unfortunately, I didn't know that before I put mine together so it is right side heavy. I can see the truth in that designer's tip. I still think my arrangement looks fab though. And rules are meant to be broken!

Once you've arranged your map in a way that makes you happy, it's time for the actual hanging on the wall.

Step 3:

I'm not going to lie to you. Step 3 is very time consuming, detail oriented, and potentially frustrating. Luckily for me, I had my handsome handy man around who was kind enough to do the hanging for me while I did the directing! Something to note is if your "map" isn't in the same room that you're putting up your gallery, take a picture to refer to. This was endlessly helpful for me when trying to figure out where each frame should go.

To get started, choose a frame to start from. We decided to start in the middle and work outwards from there so that the whole thing didn't feel off center at the end. Carefully, piece by piece keep adding outwards until your gallery is complete!

We didn't have a particular strategy to make this perfectly match the map. I would hold up the next piece of art where it should go for J, he took a bunch of measurements and did a bunch of math and then measured where the nail should go using his level. The relationship of the pieces to each other remained the same as the map but I wasn't too picky on the actual placement on the wall. I just eyeballed it. I think it helps to be flexible. We added more space between frames when it looked like it was needed or moved things closer if that was what was needed.

Also, after we put up our gallery wall, one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, posted about putting up a small cluster of frames. They have fantastic tips on how to do that using NO measurements! It would have been impossible for us to use this method (it involves marking on a large piece of paper where the frames and their hanging pieces are so you can just tape up the piece of paper on the wall, nail through your marks, and rip the paper away) because we were tackling an entire wall, but for a smaller arrangement, I think it's the way to go! So check it out if that's in the works for you!

Piece by piece it went up (and over the span of 2 days). Until finally, the moment arrived where we could step back and admire all of our hard work!! Here she is in all of her glory! My favorite home project to date! 

Isn't it just fantastic? It REALLY makes the room. It takes it from, "eh, nice room" to "WOW!!!" Or at least, it does in my humble opinion!

Ok, let's talk about the pieces for a minute. Here are some close ups and sources.

Most of the art that I bought is from different etsy shops. In the above picture I used a mix of my own DIY (the gold scallop piece and the four fabric covered canvas pieces), personal photos, and art. I like the mix of textures as well as the mix of prints and photographs. Also, I decided to go a little unorthodox with the "framing" of the two circle prints by hanging them with clothes pins on some jute twine! That saved me money on frames, and also mixes it up and adds a bit of fun! Another money saving tip for you, the print on top of the multicolored trees is actually a postcard that the seller sent with the prints I ordered!

Over here we have more of my DIY pieces, my favorite wall paper sample framed, family photos, and probably my favorite pieces on the entire wall, my little animals! (I had the hardest time not buying every single print she makes!) Another money saving tip is to use greeting cards as art. The embossed magic print is a card and cost only $8! I've used cards as art before in our living room. Papyrus makes the prettiest cards that can really punch up a room if added to a pretty frame!

I absolutely love those camels! They are so bright and fun! The print underneath it says "I think you are magic". It's easier to see in person because the first part is embossed in white.

Aren't those animal prints just the cutest?

Above is a closer view of some of the personal photos I used. Two from our engagement session and two from my travels. The left picture is an amazing tree from Curacao and the right is from Israel.

I love this little nook for reading and writing blog posts.

Ok, here we have the much anticipated Before and After shots! The Before picture has most of the bones of the room. Furniture, standing lamp, rug, side tables, etc. But with the pizzazz of the gallery wall and some color pops of pillows the after transforms the room!



There you have it, my favorite home project yet! It is immensely satisfying to see this room completed. I have been working on it for close to 9 months and to have it all come together looking better than I hoped is amazing! 



  1. Looks great, Dana! You are so talented!! You need to come and advise me what to do with my house. We've been here more than three years and the limit to my decorating has been to order two fatheads. I have ZERO skills in this area. You have a gift! How awesome it must be to come home to a place like that!!


    1. Thank you, Chrissy! That is so nice of you to say!

  2. Oh my gosh, such an intense project but this turned out SO well! Ours isn't half as big as this, just two rows basically and we're hoping to add a third eventually once we get more pieces. But I love yours!! Thanks for the inspiration! xo

  3. I am completely in love with this room! Your gallery wall is amazing.