The non-intimidating Gallery Wall

Walk around one either of the two homes we have viewed this month and you will see something in common. Though the styles are like oil and water, one being a classical romantic Victorian and the other a mid century masterpiece with clean lines and a clear touch of modern, they both make use of the gallery wall to show a selection of smaller artists pieces that would otherwise appear lonely when given a wall of their own. Here we have gone through some steps to building you own gallery wall with you own art, no matter the style. 

Step One – The Collection

With this project, we get the hardest part out of the way first. This may take some people years or decades, it can also be completed in one tour of your favorite local antique town, flea market, or if you are already an avid collector perhaps just a trip to the attic. In order to narrow the field of what you are looking for, try to think of some defining feature that ties the art together. Remember it does not only have to be paintings; in the examples in this article, home owners have chosen to mix photographs, paintings, drawings, needle work, mirrors, and even objects into their collections. 

Step Two – Prepare Each Item to be Hung

This process will vary from item to item, depending on the size, frame (or no frame). For framed pieces, the general wisdom is that one should use round eyes and picture hanging wire. Items that are not framed can be hung in a couple of different ways. One can create a small ‘shelf’ out of two nails at the bottom of the painting, with one at the top to snugly hold it into place. The second option is to use cotton string, with small loops in each corner, creating and X on the back, where the picture can be hung. 

Step Three – The Arrangement

Once you have chosen all of the item you want to hang, its time to begin thinking about the order in which you want to hang the items. Find an open space on the floor that is at least as large as the wall you want to hang and layout your items. Think about the  overall shape that the arrangement will form and how it will direct the eye in the room. In the fruit selection, the overall shape gives us an inverted triangle, making the eye travel upwards. The room in which it is hung has immensely high ceilings, and the shape was designed to encourage the eye to take in the entire space. For the hang in Marella Consolini’s house, which we covered this month, the collection takes up an entire piece of wall between two doors, so she has chosen to space out her items to make use of the entire space. She however likes to do things a little differently, “That wall moves around a lot, I don’t like symmetry, so I start by putting one thing in, and try to find a rhythm. To some that may sound like a night mare, but I could spend hours moving pictures around.” pondered Marella.

Once you have laid out your items, try them in as many different shapes and orders as you can imagine; you may be surprised at what you find attractive. 

Step Five – Do The Math 

At this stage I find it helpful to create a diagram using graph paper to note all of the distances and measurements, this does not have to be to scale, but should just give you the opportunity to get all of the measurements you will need in order to hang all of the items at once. 

Start by measuring the hanger height of each item. This means the distance between where the hanging element ends (where the nail will ultimately sit) and the top of the frame. Remember that string or picture wire will stretch a bit when bearing weight. I like to do this by taking a tape measure, hooking the wire end into the picture wire and pulling it straight upwards. Then measure where the center of the piece is. This two dimensions will give you the exact placement of your nail. Add this to your diagram. 

Decide on the distance you want to have between each each painting. This may be the same in every direction, or you may choose to center paintings over each other, making them out of line with the paintings next to them, but have the same distance in the vertical spaces. Once you have decided on each of these, add that information to your diagram as well! 

Step Six – Mark the Wall

With your carefully plotted diagram in hand, it is time to measure the spacing on the wall. Here you will need a pencil (preferably one with a good erasure), or for the brave souls working on this project you can also go straight for a pen or permanent marker! Begin by measuring the central point of your collection; the painting in the middle. Mark this by measuring the center of the wall, and the hight from the floor you have chosen. From this mark you should easily be able to measure the other distances up and over from the central point. 

Step Seven – Hammer and Nails 

We recommend using a picture hanger with and nail, This will make it easier to straighten the work once it has been hung, however, a small nail, hammered in at an angle will also do.  

Step Eight – The Fun Part

Once all of the nails and hangers are hammered in, be sure to go around with the erasure and remove any marks you may have made in the process. 

Finally; hang the art and enjoy!