How to hang a gallery wall
Feature walls are a great way of bringing additional colour and fun into your interior design. Here's our guide to how to create a gallery wall with your antique and vintage prints, artwork, photographs and pictures
Gallery walls are a great way of creating a feature out of one of the walls in your home. However, framing photos and pictures can be difficult – and hanging them neatly can be even more challenging! Here are our handy tips and tricks to hanging a gallery wall, and how to look after the art in your home.
How to hang a gallery wall
Paint or decorate your wall
Is the wall the colour you'd like it to be? Remember, it's a lot easier to paint a wall before it's got picture hooks all over it. Choose your paint colour and go for it.
Fan of wallpaper? Here are our suggestions of the best wallpaper designs.
If you're using a period wall, make good use of the space inside the borders of panelling by showing off your prints. Hang them simply to keep the lines clean. Magnetic frames offer an inexpensive route to displaying smaller-scale travel posters with ease.
Choose the art for your gallery wall and consider colour palettes
For a truly Instagram-worthy display, we recommend laying artworks on the floor to find a composition that feels balanced and connected before taking a hammer to the wall. Try starting with a larger painting at the centre of your grouping, and surrounding with complementary works, for a gallery that feels unique and in-tune with your home.
Consider both the colour scheme of the room and of the other artworks featured on the wall. Do they all work together?
Also, consider the design of the space. A gallery wall usually requires quite a minimalist aesthetic, because of its busy, eye-catching nature.
If you want to make a real statement, go bold with a gallery wall of iconic film posters. Arrange closely together for maximum visual impact, but use simple black frames to tie the different designs together.
A home print studio is a great place to play with decorating ideas using posters and prints. Cover a wall with vintage-style paper featuring theatre and art shows – you can then contrast this with framed original pieces.
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Alternatives to gallery walls
Lean pictures against walls
So as not to damage walls covered in precious wallpaper and panelling, or for those living in rented accommodation, leaning pictures against walls or atop dressers and cabinets creates a relaxed feel. It’s best to pick a sturdy frame to avoid any warping, and prints can be rearranged whenever a room needs refreshing.
Create a mural
We all dream of owning a dramatic Old Master or a sensual Renaissance portrait (anyone got £100m they could lend us?). But if you don’t fancy flashing the cash at Christie’s, oversized wall murals are an ingenious way to introduce works by the world’s most renowned artists into your home. From Picasso and Rossetti, to Constable and Turner, murals are a daring alternative to paint or wallpaper. Most come in manageable strips for easy application and, for less confident DIY-ers, some are even available with a handy sticky back. Style with pared-back furniture for a look that’s chic and romantic.
Use picture shelves
If you love to rearrange your collection of artworks, picture shelves are a great solution. This picture ledge from Ikea has been a hit with interiors bloggers, plus it has a special groove to keep prints at the perfect angle. We’ll take three, please!
First of all, you have to frame your art. You'll have to consider whether you're wanting to buy a pre-made frame, get a frame commissioned and fitted by a framer or buy a suitably sized antique frame. Check out our guide to learn how to frame art for your home.
Use your antique picture frames! These can be an artwork in themselves, so check out our guide to how to create a display using antique picture frames.
For a look that suggests informal elegance, why not do away with frames altogether and display artwork the natural way? Try hanging vintage wall charts from wooden skirt hangers or hooks for an industrial feel, or create a lively office space by sticking up posters and cards with colourful Japanese washi tape. Fully customisable and budgetfriendly, these techniques mean you can play around with combinations to find an arrangement that perfectly matches your space.
Consider the lighting
If your pictures are going to be in direct sunlight, they might get damaged by the sun. Placing them in UV-protected glass can help prevent damage. If you don't have suitable frames, avoid creating your gallery wall in direct sunlight.
Check out our guide on how to light your artwork at home.
Measure and make markings on the wall for your art
To make sure that each picture is hung correctly, measure the dimensions of the wall and the picture frames to ensure that you have designed the space suitably and the pictures are hung evenly.
Be creative with your layout
Traditionally, pictures are hung at eye level. A gallery wall gives you more scope to be creative and hang pictures in an innovative design.
Maybe try a different space... the wall space alongside a staircase is often forgotten, and it’s prime for displaying artworks. Stick to monochrome prints and frames for a dramatic feel, or up the saturation with clashing tones and patterns. Try staggering frames in a gentle incline for maximum effect, and break up any similar works with quirky curios, wall hangings, ceramics or trailing plants. If you’re feeling particularly bold, why not paint your steps or balustrade in a contrasting colour? Or pick a stair carpet runner in a complementary shade to complete the look.
Check what type of hanging your pictures require
A picture or photo frame usually requires either a piece of wire, D ring or a hanger to be hung on a wall. Check this before you start hammering hooks or nails into the wall. If your frame lacks a hanging device and you're struggling to fit one, maybe try command strips. They can be applied directly onto the wall.
Think of alternative hanging strategies
You might even not want to hang pictures on the wall at all. Sometimes resting pictures against surfaces can look just as effective.
Lean your framed posters on a sideboard for a laid-back look. You can secure them in place with accessories – a stack of books makes a good prop. Strong, graphic designs from the 1930s by artists such as Cassandre are among the most iconic, and the large scale gives a bedroom a modern edge.
Let your travel posters take centre stage by displaying them, framed, on a vintage easel. Finish the look with stacked suitcases and coastal-striped bed linen.
Hammer in your nails or command strips
Don't assume that one nail or command strip will be enough. Heavier frames and pieces of art might require more support. Check weight requirements on command strips before hanging anything too heavy up.
Hang your art to finish the gallery wall
Use a spirit level when you're hanging your pictures to ensure even lines.
Clean your picture frames regularly
Look after your picture frames. They can get dirty and dusty, which might cause the gilding or paint to break down. Check out our guide to how to clean your antique picture frames.
Like a feature wall but don't fancy all those frames? Have a look at our round-up of the best feature wall ideas.
Photographs: Katya De Grunwald
Styling: Ali Bradshaw
All prices and product names correct at time of publication.