Categories: Apartments

How To Make A Beautiful Gallery Wall

Every dorm or apartment deserves at least one gallery wall! They are so beautiful to look at, and can give a lot of personality to any space. Depending on how you create it, a gallery wall can be anywhere from highly eclectic to super sleek and modern. The magic is in the process of finding what pieces and frames you’ll use, to make it exactly how you like. Here’s a little guide on how to make your gallery wall just right.

Define a style.

A gallery wall can be accomplished in just about every kind of decorating style imaginable. Define the style of your space as the first step. If it’s modern, then your gallery wall will want to be more minimalistic and chic. If your apartment is older and has more character, then you’ll want to go for a more collected feel. Whatever it is, make sure you have a clear idea of the style you like. Peruse Pinterest if you’re not sure right away, and make a mood board to help you with your design decisions. 

When I’m designing, I like to come up with a concept first, like an idea that I want to model my space after. The concept could be something abstract, or more often than not it’s a place I’ve been and a general feeling I want to have in my space. My last apartment was in an old house with a lot of character and beautiful molding, so I decided the concept would be Paris in the 1920’s. I was shopping one day and saw an old green trunk, and it immediately inspired me! Every decision I made was based on that concept, the feeling of being in Paris and living in an old building with a lot of heart. My gallery wall then ended up being covered with a mix of frames, full of old photographs and watercolors I had bought on my own travels. Having the concept helped me make every decision around the space!

Choose the location.

Gallery walls can really go in any area of the house, but the best places are the bedroom, dining room, or living room. I would steer clear of creating one in the kitchen or bathroom, because those spaces probably already have a lot going on and not as much wall space. One popular choice is to create a gallery wall next to your bed. Another would be on a blank wall in your living room, this way all of your guests can see and admire it!

Decide what pieces will go on the wall.

Gallery walls do not need to be limited to just framed art or photos. Some of the best gallery walls, in my opinion, are the ones with a lot of variety. I like to combine water colors I’ve bought while traveling with old postcards, prints, and even paintings. In the past I’ve also added small mirrors to the wall to give it a vintage look. Whatever you decide, just know that you aren’t limited to sticking to one medium. The important thing to keep in mind is how the pieces will fit together. Is there a central theme, like travel or a specific destination or certain colors you’d like to use? By unifying the pieces under a certain theme, you can ensure that the pieces will look good together.

Pick frames.

For your photos and prints, you’ll need to purchase frames that go together and fit the overall style. Consult Pinterest or your mood board if you need some direction! To keep it simple and let the pieces speak for themselves, choose either black or white frames for all of the pieces. Or, if you want it to look more eclectic, then feel free to mix up the colors and materials of the frames. For something more luxe, choose silver or gold frames.

Lay it all out.

The best way to determine the layout of your gallery wall is to lay all of your pieces out, either on the floor in front of the designated wall, or across your bed or table. This way you can move things around without the pressure of them already being on the wall. I like to always start with a central piece, like a larger painting or framed print, and work my way out from there. It’s best to balance the large or wider pieces on the bottom, with smaller pieces making up the top and outer sides.

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Once you’ve got the layout totally figured out, it’s time to assemble the gallery wall! If you’re in a rental apartment or a dorm room, make sure you know the rules around hanging materials on the wall. Some rentals don’t allow nails, in which case you’ll have to use either tacks or command strips to hang the pieces. Hopefully, nails are allowed because that’s the most sure way to hang things on the wall!

However you’re doing it, start again with that center piece first, and work your way out. You can get precise and measure, but I usually just eyeball everything as I go. Pay attention to how your frames hang, because depending on if there is a wire or a hook on the back, it will lay differently on the wall. I usually place my hand where the nail would fit into the frame, hold it up to the spot I’d like it on the wall, then mark that with a pencil. Then I know exactly where to hammer the nail so that the frame will lay how I want it. 

Final touches.

While you’re assembling the gallery wall, make sure you take a step back every now and then to assess how it looks. Adjust things if you need to, and make sure to leave at least a couple inches of wall space between frames. If you find new art later on, or want to replace something, feel free to do that! I like to add on to my gallery wall as I travel more and buy new pieces. 

Have you ever made your own gallery wall? Share this with your roommates so you can get started on a fun new project together!

Featured Image Source:
Margaret Johnson

Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.

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