Mix Artwork Like a Gallery Wall Pro
We’ve tapped into the minds of our designers to create a handy guide to selecting, mixing, and arranging everything from paintings and photographs to framed trinkets. We’ll be focusing on gallery walls here since they’re such a great way to add personality to a blank wall, but any of these tips can be used on a smaller scale if you just want to hang a few pieces.
While there isn’t really a precise formula for mixing art on a gallery wall, one rule always remains true—there are no rules! Gallery walls are very personal. They showcase family photos, art, travel posters, and memorabilia; so each one will be unique. Designer tips are really just suggestions for how to do something in an ideal situation. Exceptions to the rules will inevitably arise, and that’s exactly what makes gallery walls so special. Whether you’re pulling art and photos from what you’ve collected over the years or shopping from scratch, don’t be afraid to play around and be yourself.
Set the Mood
Deciding what type of feelings you want your space to evoke will lead you to the right pieces. Once you decide on the vibe to create, clear your mind and individually look through your collection of artwork. Maybe this gallery wall is above your breakfast nook, so creating an atmosphere of invigoration and joyfulness is key. Do you have a vintage travel poster with a fun font or a painting of a sunrise with bright yellow tones?
Set the Mood
Deciding what type of feelings you want your space to evoke will lead you to the right pieces. Once you decide on the vibe to create, clear your mind and individually look through your collection of artwork.
Maybe this gallery wall is above your breakfast nook, so creating an atmosphere of invigoration and joyfulness is key. Do you have a vintage travel poster with a fun font or a painting of a sunrise with bright yellow tones?
Maybe you want to foster relaxation in the bedroom. An evening photo of a city street below a sky of deep purples and dark blues is in order or a relaxing seascape. Use color as your guide, as certain colors universally evoke specific feelings. Take notice of how each piece makes you feel and categorize the best you can—this can even be a fun activity to try with a partner!
Ideally we suggest sticking with a color palette based on the vibe you want to create. However, when you’re working with artwork you already own or have already fallen in love with a particular piece at a gallery, this may not be possible. In these cases, try to repeat colors at least three times within your wall story to tie everything together. While not every piece should be exactly the same color, there should be other photos and paintings on the wall that share similar colors and tones.
Our lives have many facets and so should your gallery wall. Mix different styles of art. Use photographs—old and new. Frame maps, a tapestry, an old boutonniere, or ballet slippers. All of these works of art will give your wall depth and conjure memories. Just like with color, make sure these different mediums repeat throughout. For example, try balancing every framed photo with one or two abstract art pieces.
Blend Shapes and Sizes
Your collection looks best when it features pieces of all different sizes—and shapes!
Depending on the size of your gallery wall, choose one or three larger pieces (try sticking with odd numbers) and fill the rest in with small and medium sized works. You can even throw in a circular or oddly-shaped frame. Custom framing provides lots of flexibility on sizing—for example, a wide mat around a smaller family photo would make a bigger statement. Lastly, incorporate a mix of landscape and portrait orientations for variety.
Framing Your Art
The frames you put the art in will be the finishing touch to give your gallery wall that designer edge. When you visit your local FastFrame store, speak to our designers and be as bold as you like; mix your frame finishes and styles to mirror the eclectic mix of varying artwork you’ve curated. We typically choose a natural wood, a shiny metal, and plain white or black frame as a stylish trio to repeat throughout your gallery wall.
For a really large gallery wall though, you could always incorporate more styles—as long as at least a couple pieces are framed with each type to maintain balance. If you’re wanting this gallery wall to blend with other decor, your FastFrame custom framer can also help you choose one unifying element—like color, material, or frame style. Reframing all of your pieces with this single element rather than a bold mix will create a look that feels less eclectic.
Play with the Layout
While a grid of same-sized frames on a gallery wall can be breathtaking, this probably won’t be the case here since you’re working with a varied collection. After everything is framed and before you put any holes in the wall, try laying the works out on the floor or tracing your frames on kraft paper, cutting them out, and sticking them to the wall with painter’s tape. This way you can see which sizes work well together and quickly make adjustments without damaging your walls.
For the tech-savvy folks out there, you can lay things out virtually as well. This can be really helpful if you are planning to buy new pieces for the wall and want to see how they will fit in your space before purchase. This can be fairly easily done in a variety of computer software or on a tablet—just be mindful of scale and be sure to resize each piece proportionately.