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Home Is Where Your Art Is: The Gallery Wall

Practical tips and interesting facts about the picture wall

Gallery walls have been all the rage in interior design for quite some time now. It’s no wonder, as they allow you to add a unique and stylish touch to any room.

A picture wall should always be in the works – something that will keep growing until it reaches the state of a (potentially) wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling work of art. For example, in the style of a salon-style hang: the term was coined in the St. Petersburg Hermitage, where rooms are filled with pictures from the floor to the ceiling.

A salon hang is, simply, a stringing together of all manner of different pictures. In other words: you show off what you have. All of it. Nothing is withheld from the marveling eye of the visitor – art, family or vacation photos, drawings, your great-grandmother’s prepared fox, old newspaper articles. In short: everything that corresponds with your own aesthetic vision.

The result suggests that the process of putting the pictures up was a rather random endeavor. Seemingly, someone decided on the spot to arrange small portrait frames alongside large landscape frames and abstract photography next to renaissance paintings. It may, at first glance, seem coincidental, even arbitrary or thoughtless.

But – gallery walls are far from random. The supposed chaos is intentional, the hanging is a statement: “Behold! I put on my walls what I like, in a way that suits me. Conventions are for other, less interesting people.” Similar frames, contents, or motifs can also act as links between the individual elements. Skillfully combined, the most diverse pieces can be put together to form a cohesive whole. Careful though: avoid using the same frame for every print on your wall. The appeal of a gallery wall is precisely to combine diverse media, styles, genres, and epochs.

Gallery Wall Mix: Schema einer Bilderwand
Gallery wall mix: scheme of a picture wall

Before you start your own project with the help of our tips, here’s a little hint regarding the setting: a good gallery wall does not exist in a vacuum, so you can hang your pictures next to and above furniture or other objects as well. Ready to get down to work?

1. Put that hammer back in the closet.

Proper planning is half the battle. Or half the gallery wall, in our case. Especially if you’d like to combine motifs, formats, or shapes that are very different from one another, you will do yourself a massive favor by doing some preparatory work – and not just in your mind, but with the help of a yardstick, some adhesive tape and, well, your floor.

This great explanatory video from Apartment Therapy shows what that’ll look like:

2. Go big.

It’s good to have one or two large core pieces because a bustling pile of artworks on a large, empty wall often just looks awkward or too agitated. With smaller formats, you can create additional size by adding beautiful frames, with or without a passepartout.

3. Always at the center of attention

Yes, there are divas among artworks. And that’s a good thing, because a rule of thumb for a balanced composition of your gallery wall is to start with a large centerpiece – preferably (and the irony is not lost on us) not directly in the middle of the wall, because that is less appealing to the eye. There will be some other big pieces later on, but the anchor image typically shapes the general mood, main theme (or themes), and/or the color palette of the overall scheme.

Dein Centerpiece mitsamt seiner Gefolgschaft
Your centerpiece and its entourage

4. Mix it up, Baby!

The best examples for stunning gallery walls deploy stylistic inconsistencies on purpose and show objects from a variety of different media: photographs, paintings, typography, drawings, and even three-dimensional pieces. Modern meets retro meets minimalism meets maximalism meets handmade meets print and so on. Breaches of style are not only allowed, they’re very much encouraged.

Beispiel für eine Bilderwand
Example of a gallery wall

5. Hold my beer.

And last but not least, after all those do’s and don’ts – something to relax your mind a little: while you obviously can go on one huge shopping spree (if you have the time and financial resources to do so that is), you may of course also keep collecting for a longer stretch of time. In fact, that’s even better for the end result, so fret not if you aren’t the keenest of shoppers. This also means that temporary placeholders are absolutely allowed – after all, nothing is forever.

Katrin Strohmaier spends her days as a mouthpiece for Photocircle. From there, she spreads the good news that you can make the world a little better, simply by buying art.

* Pictures in the gallery wall:

  1. Untitled BW289 by Michael William Benton
  2. Hot Stones by Bo Lundberg
  3. Bleeding planet by Felix Dorn
  4. Minimal Plant by Dan Hobday
  5. Woods 5Y by Mareike Böhmer
  6. Peace of nature by Holger Nimtz
  7. All Good Things Are Wild & Free by Uma Gokhale
  8. Rarity Cabinet Butterfly Peacock by Marielle Leenders
  9. Norwegisches Häuschen by Christian Schipflinger
  10. Sima by Ekaterina Koroleva
  11. Sol by Martin Azambuja
  12. Saguaro by Cats and Dotz (The Artcircle)
  13. Ampersand by Vivid Atelier
Since early October 2019 we've already been able to plant 145.745 trees thanks to the pictures sold on Photocircle. They will absorb approximately 11.659.600 kg CO₂ within the next five years.