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How to create a gallery wall in your home

Published: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 11:45 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 1:51 p.m. CDT

A gallery wall is a piece of art in itself, explains designer Lora Coburn of Coco Designs. “It’s one showcase of art in a space.”

This collection of black and white art is a stunning installation by Jolly Home.

This collection of black-and-white art is a stunning installation by Jolly Home.

The trick to a successful gallery wall — a wall holding an assortment of framed art, mirrors and even trinkets — is to approach it organically, Coburn says. Designer Kim Lemmon of The Green Room Interiors agrees.

“You want it to look like it was added over time, and that’s part of the charm of it,” Lemmon said.

Here are a few of their tips for creating a stunning gallery wall in your home.

Find the ideal location

Both designers emphasize that a gallery wall can go anywhere: a kitchen, living room, even a bathroom.

An eclectic gallery wall is a great accent in a powder room.

An eclectic gallery wall is a great accent in a powder room.

When you’re canvasing your home for the perfect spot, take note of wall spaces that aren’t already too cluttered. If you have a large wall, play around with extending a gallery from the ceiling to the floor, or try grouping paintings over a couch.

Start with what you have

When Coburn begins creating a gallery wall in a client’s home, she first does a sweep throughout the house, picking out things that catch her eye and small pieces that don’t necessarily fit where they are currently.

“If it’s out, chances are that they like it,” she explained. “After that, I usually find some really big pieces you build off of. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t have to be artwork or photos. I also look for mirrors, little trinkets or knickknacks or ceramic trivets.”

Once she has an assortment of items, Coburn lays out what she has and tries to see what’s missing.

“The whole point is to keep it really organic — a big one, a few medium, some small ones,” she said. “Depending on the wall size, you’re definitely going to have at least one big piece. A bigger wall, you may not want just one [large] piece.”

Lora Coburn added this gallery wall of framed comic book art to a client's game room.

Lora Coburn added this gallery wall of framed comic book art to a client’s game room.

In one client’s home, Coburn framed her client’s favorite comic book covers to create a dynamic and highly personalized wall in the game room.

Be patient

Once you’ve gathered all the pieces, don’t rush in putting together your wall, especially if you feel like you’re forcing an item to fit in with your other art.

“People get in a hurry because they have the space, but I say start small and start in the middle. Keep adding to it if you find things that you really love,” Lemmon said. “If you wait and find things that you really love it will work together.”

In Lemmon’s home, she combined three oval mirrors that were a gift from a friend, posters, framed art and other pieces she loved.

Lemmon's gallery wall features items she's gathered over the years.

Lemmon’sgallery wall features items she’s gathered over the years.

“I do try to keep the color scheme in mind, but I don’t limit myself,” she explained.

Take note of the pieces of art you like, and when you are building your wall, find common colors and themes throughout.

Pay attention to sizes and shapes

Shapes are definitely something to keep in mind, says Lemmon.

“You want to balance the larger pieces throughout so you don’t just have one large piece on the left and all the smaller pieces on the right,” she said. “Think of the big ones first so they’re distributed.”

Small pieces are actually ideal for a gallery wall: They’re pieces that don’t belong anywhere else but can be added to the installation, Coburn says.

“I have a gallery wall in my home, and I have a starfish ornament that just doesn’t go anywhere else, but it sits on top of a frame on my gallery wall,” she explained.

If you have a more limited space, perhaps above a piece of furniture, try similar or identical frames to create a more cohesive look.

A smaller area for a gallery wall is idea for a similar grouping of frames and art.

A smaller area is ideal for a similar grouping of frames and art, as shown in this design by CCS Architecture.

Lay it out first

Both Coburn and Lemmon agree that laying your collection out before hanging it on the wall is the best tactic.

Measure the dimensions of the wall and mark those dimensions on the floor, advises Lemmon. From there it’s a matter of playing around until it feels right.

“I suggest, look at it, walk away, come back to it a few hours later. Maybe wait a day before you come back [to it]” Coburn said.

Take a photo of the final design you like; it will serve as a great reference as you hang each piece.

Hang it up

While you can hang your gallery wall with nails and a hammer, Coburn has used industrial-strength Velcro in the past to create gallery walls with an underlying grid.

“It comes in a row, and you can snip it to any size you want,” she said. “One side gets attached to the wall, and then the other attaches to whatever you’re hanging. It gives you a little give, if you’re off by a quarter of the inch.”

A varied gallery of mirrors is a great addition to this entry way design by bright designlab interior design.

A gallery of mirrors is a great addition to this entryway design by bright designlab interior design.

If you decide to go with a more eclectic gallery wall, don’t worry too much about spacing between the pieces.

“It’s just added charm,” Lemmon said.

Related:

Erika Riggs, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties and home design trends. Read more of her work here.

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