Frame By Frame

By Simone Slykhous

March 25, 2019 5 min read

Think about that big blank wall in your home. You know the one. Maybe it's the blank space above your bed. Maybe it's your bare entryway or stairwell. Or maybe your couch is currently the only focal point of your living room. Rather than seeing this blank wall as something to fix or a scary challenge, consider the advice of Argentine comics artist Eduardo Risso: "For me, the blank page to draw on is a window to adventure."

Those big blank walls are a great opportunity to make a gallery wall. All you need is a level, a hammer, some frame hooks and your art. In making a gallery wall, you will encounter dozens of possibilities for arrangement, color, hanging levels, spacing and more. This opportunity for creative expression will allow you to play with paintings, family photos, sculptures and whatever else you would like the world to see.


The first decision to make is where you would like to have this gallery wall. Do you envision a cascading collection as you walk up or down your stairs? Will this be hung as inspiration in your home office? The design team at Modsy suggests thinking outside the normal spots and instead decorating an entire corner of a room: "Try creating a display with graphic photos, paintings, and prints that hang on both walls of the corner as way to anchor a reading nook or a seating area just below. This take on the gallery wall is perfect for small and awkward corner spaces or even the base of a staircase."

Small-space dwellers, don't despair. Rather than shrink the feel of a room, a gallery wall can add depth, height and bursts of color. This will give your space the feeling of being fully decorated without crowding precious floor space.


With a gallery wall, there will be a lot of hammering nails into walls. This can mean a lot of holes to spackle if you need to rearrange things. Rather than risk that, consider laying your artwork on the ground and taking photos after you've arranged the pieces to your liking. Try using painter's tape as a buffer between pieces when hanging. Tape stays even and straight and will help with consistent spacing. Once you're happy with the finished product, simply peel it away to reveal your perfectly spaced gallery wall.

You can discover many options for formations as you play around with your pieces. A grid with art that is the same size and shape and arranged in straight lines is a traditional approach. The effect is a clean look with minimal effort. Another arrangement is on the midline. "Usually when hanging artwork, the rule is to pick a midpoint and arrange all your art centered on that line," say the designers at Modsy. Variations include shifting the balance from a midline to a straight line at either at the bottoms or the tops of the frames. By aligning the art at the bottoms of the frames, you can organically grow your gallery wall out and up. Aligning the art at the tops of the frames gives the wall a decidedly crisp, modern look. The success depends on the space you're filling. For example, the tipsters at HGTV Magazine say: "If you're creating a gallery above the sofa, start about 6 inches above the back edge. Building from the lowest row allows you to expand your gallery wall up and out without running out of space."


Frames are the key to a uniform or cohesive gallery wall. For a modern look, try out gold frames in various thicknesses. For a sleek look, simple black frames will defer attention to the art. However, don't be too afraid to mix up the styles of frames. "The brilliance of a gallery wall is that it is a collection of unique artworks spanning genres, periods and mediums," says interior designer Ariel Farmer of Homepolish. Balance can be achieved with consistent matboards and well-thought-out ratios. Farmer's suggestion for ratios is "one extra-large piece, two large pieces, two medium pieces and three small ones."

Don't forget that you can play around with more than paintings and photographs. Sketches, sconces, molding, mirrors, busts and other 3D art can add dimension and liveliness to any gallery wall. To avoid crooked pieces, many professional services recommend swapping the wire for D-rings.

A gallery wall will bring personality and style to any room in any size home. These tips will help you make a statement rather than a jumbled look. So start collecting your pieces and get ready to create on that canvas.

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