If you're fortunate enough to have ample wall space in your home or apartment, you may as well go big when it comes to artwork. Seriously—there is nothing preventing you from creating a show-stopping, maximalist gallery wall that will totally transform your living quarters.
While constructing a large art display from start to finish may seem like an intimidating task, it's totally doable as long as you keep some key pointers in mind. We spoke with several gallery wall masters who provided insight on the basic rules that you'll want to follow as you piece together your own museum-worthy display.
1. Look For Art Everywhere
Sourcing enough artwork to fill an entire large wall is actually easier than you might think, with so many online retailers that cater to every price point and style. "There are so many resources to find art these days," designer Kelly Hurliman said. " I like to use a mix of mostly original art (Chairish, eBay and Etsy are great for this) and less expensive prints (from The Poster Club, Art Star, Society 6)." Hurliman has also tried her own hand at creating some DIY art. "I’m not a trained artist by any means, but when looking for certain colors, sizes, and abstracts it’s often easier and cheaper to make them yourself than to source." Not feeling quite so crafty? Hurliman offered one additional hack. "I’ve even torn art out of books and framed it for quick and easy pieces," she said.
2. Think About the Look You Want to Achieve
A gallery wall is an excellent means of conveying your personal style. Everything from the individual pieces of art you pick to the frames you select can significantly influence the display's overall outcome. Hurliman uses different frame types to help achieve her desired aesthetic. "If going for a more eclectic look I use a mix of vintage and new frames, which helps the overall look feel more authentic and unique," she said.
3. Strike a Balance
There's no need to hang frames in one uniform color, noted blogger Jen Biswas, who created the gallery wall above. However, you do want to create a setup that looks balanced as a whole. "If you don’t do all the same color frames, make sure you have the different colors on both sides of your wall," Biswas advises. Note that frames don't need to be expensive to make an impact. "I love to thrift for vintage frames, and I purchase new ones from places like H&M and Target," blogger Marianne Sides said.
4. Let a Wall Evolve Over Time
When it comes to creating a gallery wall—especially a more expansive one—a bit of patience is key. "I prefer a gallery wall that's grown organically over time, and that means adding pieces as I find them, rather than curating pieces to fit a certain style," lifestyle blogger and e-designer Heather Bien said. Bien's own wall, pictured above, features favorite art pieces as well as sentimental items, such as a from a ticket to the concert at which she met her now-husband. "I want every item on my wall to have a story and meaning—that's what makes it feel collected and organic, rather than something that was purchased all in one fell swoop to fit a color scheme," she added. And when it comes to hanging new pieces, Bien is adamant that the limit on artwork does not exist. "There's always room for something new with a bit of rearranging, and my goal is to create a wall that people will peruse and take in frame-by-frame, asking, 'What's the story here?' with each one."
5. Mix Old and New
A great gallery wall can contain both storied pieces as well as store bought artwork—don't be afraid to mix and match when it comes to the items you hang. "I love to mix old and new, so I’ll start by finding some vintage prints, and then adding filler digital prints in coordinating colors and feel," Sides noted "I love Etsy, BFF Print Shop, and Vintage Supply for finding the digital downloads."
6. Add Unexpected Elements
Feel free to mix things up by adhering other small accent pieces—not just traditional artwork—to your wall; this will help the overall flow and provide visual interest. Noted Biswas, "Adding different varieties of texture through woven wall hangings, plants, and wood pieces makes it warm and inviting. Lots of white space in art work prevents it from feeling too busy."
7. Hang the Biggest Piece First
Sides offered a helpful trick for getting into the picture hanging groove. "When it comes to arranging the photos, I’ll start with the biggest piece on the wall—or the one I want center—and then start building off of that," she noted. "I’ll space them about an inch apart, and then make sure one edge of the frame is lining up with another frame."
8. Don't Be Obsessive About Planning
While all of the above tips and tricks are key to mastering a chic maximalist gallery wall, those we spoke with agree that planning too much isn't necessary and may inhibit the creative process. "I don’t like to mess with too much pre-planning," Sides commented. "I like my walls to take on a very collected yet cohesive feel. I find that letting the gallery wall take shape on its own makes it feel so much more personal and unique." Bien agreed, adding, "My secret for a well curated gallery is to throw careful planning out the window."