At 20x200, we've been doing some spring cleaning and came across an old gem! Back in 2015, we released a guide on how to refresh your gallery wall filled with advice from writer/20x200 addict Becki Singer and our founder Jen Bekman. And with all the new collectors in our midst, we thought we'd dust off and update this oldie but goodie. So gather all your precious pieces and read on for tips to attaining an inspired gallery wall.
By now, we think it’s pretty safe to assume most of you have a burgeoning gallery wall in the works. In fact, we’re willing to bet you’ve been living with it long enough that…well, frankly, you’re ready for a change. We’re with you 100%! One of our favorite things about a gallery wall is its flexibility – it’s the Misty Copeland of art collecting. In the spirit of mixing things up, today we’re mining Jen’s endless cache of brilliant ideas for making your tried and true gallery wall feel fresh again. -Becki Singer + 20x200
Change the art: It might seem obvious, but one of the simplest changes you can make is to update the art in your existing wall. No new nail holes, very little framing expense, but a big impact. Not sure where to start? Think thematically – hang pieces that all feature a predominant color (green or yellow would be a fresh choice), destination, or favorite hobby. Need inspiration? Well, there’s 20x200, of course. Aperture and Blind Spot are great sources for benefit photography editions, and our 5+5 contributor The Jealous Curator is constantly featuring interesting new artists on her blog. I also love mixing memorabilia into a gallery wall. Frame concert tickets, an old letter you treasure, or a menu from an unforgettable meal. Fill a shadow box with your matchbook collection or pick up a map of a favorite destination.
TIP: If you have favorite artists, be sure to follow their website or social media – they’ll often feature special one-off prints or collaborations with favorite shops.
Change the frames: A few years ago, everyone was framing their gallery walls in simple black frames. Now, white frames are more popular. Personally, I’m a big fan of mixing things up to create a truly eclectic, interesting salon-style gallery wall. So, if your black frames are getting you down, replace them with white. You could also swap them for simple clip frames to really let the art take center stage. Or get creative with alternative display options: I’ve seen everything from clipboards or binder clips on nails, to installing a large magnetic board that lets you casually display a grid of prints with tiny magnets. If you’re going the unframed route, just be sure they’re not valuable, since unframed prints are more likely to be damaged over time. But all art doesn’t have to be precious – have fun with it!
TIP: If you’re using a traditional grid formation for your gallery wall, or if your style is more traditional, your frames need to match. Otherwise, sky’s the limit!
A salon wall in our founder Jen's old NYC apartment
Change the location: A gallery wall is a great solution to enlivening awkward or dead spaces. So, another easy way to shake things up is to switch the location of your gallery wall…or add a second one! Consider creating an oversized gallery wall in a tiny space, like a hallway or a guest bath. I love the idea of a floor-to-ceiling text art gallery wall in a bathroom, for example. If you’re wary of all of those nail holes, layer framed art along the back of a desk or credenza, so you get the effect of a gallery wall without the work (a great trick for renters).
TIP: Use a removable adhesive putty to ensure your art stays put and doesn’t fall off the desk every time a door slams.
Change the focus: Try adding one major focal point into the mix of smaller prints. Invest in a larger print or vintage poster (I framed a pair of vintage National Parks posters, and love how they turned out!), repurpose an original you have displayed elsewhere in the house, or consider making your TV part of the gallery wall, which has the added benefit of playing down the largesse of an oversized big screen.
TIP: Remember that any time you’re hanging a gallery wall, the name of the game is ordered chaos. If you’re hanging a grid, it needs to be perfect – so unless you have a mighty steady hand, call in a pro. If you’re going more eclectic, remember that you want the distance between each piece to be roughly the same, and it’s easier on the eyes if either the top or the bottom of your grouping is level. Mock up your layout on the floor first, or think about cutting out pieces of paper to size and taping those up on the wall to get your grid organized. And get out that level! Not just when you first hang things, but whenever you do a thorough dusting – nothing ruins the effect of a well-curated gallery wall faster than lopsided frames. For a little extra insurance, hang your pictures on double hooks.