Five steps to your perfect wall gallery

You know you’re a mum when your phone memory is full, but you’d rather delete your banking app than 589 pictures of your baby sleeping. 

I read that quote on Toddlekind’s Instagram feed and it spoke to me. Raise your hand if you’re with me! We all love photos of our family, but what do we do with those 589 photos after we've taken them? 

No home is complete without a piece of art, and whoever said it is correct. But I'd take it a step further and say no home is complete without a wall gallery, especially one of your family.

Creating a wall gallery can be daunting. You may not know where to start, or you’re nervous about making holes in the walls. Or both.

Fear not, this step-by-step guide is guaranteed to help you create your perfect gallery.

Whether you're using posters, framed pictures, photo canvases, paintings, photos, or wall hangings, there is a very important rule you must keep in mind before you start. It is YOUR perfect gallery so have fun with it. 

There’s no such thing as THE perfect wall gallery. The finished result is about you, and what you like. Hence why the title of this blog is YOUR perfect wall gallery. 

As Marie Kondo says “does it spark joy?”, if it does then it's perfect.

Photo by lucas mendes from PexelsPhoto by Lucas Mendes from Pexels 
Step 1: Equip yourself 

Gather together the items you’ll need.

Time. Make sure you start the project when you have time. Don’t try to squeeze it in when you have a spare moment. You don’t want to feel rushed or under pressure.

Artwork. Don’t start until you have all your pieces together. Read through the rest of this blog to help you decide on how your gallery is going to look. Do you want two symmetrical rows of framed B&W photos? Or do you want a mix of genres with wall art and frames of varying sizes and shapes?

Photo by Angela Roma from PexelsPhoto by Angela Roma from Pexels

 

Pencil. Make sure it’s sharp and erasable for when you mark on your walls. 

Craft/art paper. You want the kind you get in rolls for your children to paint on. You can also use newspaper. Or if you have it, the back of wallpaper if you have some leftover from a project.

Scissors/craft knife. This is to cut out the paper. If you’re using a craft knife remember to put something underneath where you cut.

Painters tape. This is so you don’t mark the walls or peel off the paint. Pay the money for the better quality tape, because the cheap tape will peel off the wall paint. If you have a reusable putty adhesive (like Blu Tack) you could also use that.

Hammer. You’ll need this if you’re going to use nails or wall hangers.

Nails or picture hangers. If you are renting, you don’t have to miss out on the gallery of your dreams. Check with the landlord, but most will allow you to hang your art as long as you fill in/repair the wall when you move out. Or consider double-sided adhesive tape or adhesive hook-and-loop tape.

Ruler/measuring tape. To measure out the space between each piece.

Level. Unless you’re going for an eclectic style, you’ll need this. 

 

Step 2: Mix, Mix, Mix

Mix your horizontals and verticals. 

Mix your frames or hanging styles. Not everything has to be framed. You might want to include a wall hanging or add something personal, or different like an air plant on a frame. 

Mix your pieces. Frames, posters, coat hangers with pegs, macrame, tapestry, photo shelves, wooden spice racks. There is no hard and fast rule for what you are allowed to use to hang in your gallery.

If you are concerned about chaos and prefer unity and symmetry, then stick to a maximum of three frame styles and two colours. You can sneak in a pop of colour too.

Remember it's YOUR perfect gallery.

  

Step 3: Maintain Balance

While some of you will want your gallery to look symmetrical, with your frames in a straight line, or two. Others may want a different look, so consider the following: 

  • Pair large wall pieces with a few smaller pieces. If you have a combination of styles, colors and finishes try to break them up to create balance.

  • Place your biggest pieces first - eye-level is best - and build from there. You might be tempted to put your largest piece or feature piece in the center of the gallery. However, consider putting it off-center to encourage your eye to travel around the wall.

  • If you have a small collection to hang up, try putting the largest piece in an outer corner. Or if you have lots to hang, then put the largest piece in the middle but off-center. Once you have this piece in place you continue from there.

 If you want it to look curated stick to a color palette.

 

Free to use (CC0) by Pexel And Pixabay
Step 3: Distance

There is a recommended guide for the distance between each piece. Aim for 3–6 inches around all sides of each piece, and use a ruler to guide your placement. 

If you have larger pieces, put more space between them. Smaller pieces should be grouped closer together.

If you have an irregular shape - like a wall hanging for example - use your eye to create a layout that you like.

 

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels 

 

Step 4: How not to smash a bunch of holes in your wall.

Now that you have your “fun hat” on, and equipment, it’s time to plan.

There are several ways you can plan your gallery before you start swinging a hammer. My preferred method is to trace a template.

 

Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels
Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels

  

You can go about this two ways:

On the floor

Roll out the craft paper, and measure out the gallery space you want. You can either cut the paper to size, or use the ruler and pencil to draw out the border. Lay your frames out on the paper, placing them exactly where you want them on the wall. You may need to shuffle each piece around a few times until you find the layout that sparks joy. Steps 3 and 4 will help you with distance and balance.

Once you're happy with your layout, trace around each piece, and remember to mark the hanger placement.

Use the painters’ tape to transfer your newly created template to the wall. Now you can pick up the hammer! Use the hammer and a nail to mark the placement through the paper. It’s worth using your pencil to draw on the marker hole so you can find it once you remove the template.

On the wall

If you find it difficult to visualize things, this option is for you. Trace around each frame on the paper. Remember to mark the picture's hanger placement so you’ll have the correct height when you come to hang the piece. Cut out each template, and then use the painters’ tape to attach each cutout to your wall. This will give you a feel for the layout. Move the cutouts around until you find the layout you like, and remember to stand back and take a look. 

 

Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels
Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels

 

Step 5: Pick up the hammer

Here we go. You’ve gathered your tools, you’ve planned your layout, your pieces are ready and waiting … You're ready to start hanging. 

If you haven’t already, remove the paper and tape, and make sure you can see your marked placements. It’s time to pick up the hammer.

Hammer your nail into the marker, and then place your first piece on the nail. Check it is level before moving on to the next piece. Repeat for the rest of your gallery. 

For those using hanging alternatives like adhesive hook-and-loop strips. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions and avoid hanging when the temperature is too cold, or too hot (like in the middle of summer). 

When you are purchasing these items, the packaging will provide you with a guide for weight limitations so make sure you purchase the correct product for your frames and artwork. As far as quantities are concerned, when I use these adhesive strips, I like to use them on all four sides to keep the frame sturdy.

Once your final piece is on the wall, tidy up and then sit back and enjoy. 

 

Let us know how you get on by tagging @toddlekind in your post. We would love to see your finished gallery, and what you created.

 

Cover image: Photo by Dom J from Pexels

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