This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in February 2014.
Creating a collage-style wall of photographs and prints in your home is easy to do and a design look that can be refreshing and ever-changing. A classic gallery wall interjects a bit of your personality into an otherwise blank space, and it can set the tone for the rest of the decor in your room.
A gallery-style display can come together anywhere – on a blank wall, in an open staircase, over your couch, you name it – and it is especially easy to do if you already have an assortment of unused picture frames in your arsenal. Some designers favor using the same style and color of frame throughout the installation for uniformity, while others like a hodge-podge of colors and frame materials to create added interest. Furthermore, you could decide to leave the art itself out of the mix, and design a cool wall installation using only the frames. Basically, you can do what you want, and it’s hard to go wrong.
I’ve been scheming up a new gallery wall for my daughter’s nursery, a blend of youthful illustrations and fun colors, and I have a few tips to share from the experience.
Use templates to plan your design.
Before you start putting holes in the walls, it’s smart to have a plan. Cut pieces of newsprint to match the sizes of the frames, and tape them to the wall until they all fit together like a puzzle. This real-scale way of visualizing the end result helps to eliminate issues with spacing, and helps you achieve a desirable mix and balance.
Having the newsprint taped to the wall helps in another way as well – it enables you to measure out where the nails and hooks will need to be installed. For example, if your frame’s wire sits 6.25″ beneath the top of the frame, you can measure and install the hook perfectly on the first try.
Be familiar with the variety of wall anchors available, and know which products will work best for your walls.
Are you installing on drywall? Plaster? Wood paneling? Into concrete blocks? Knowing what anchor options are suitable for your personal situation will make for a safe, solid installation.
Remember that heavier frames require extra attention.
If you’re hanging a 30-pound mirror or an impacting paned-glass window frame, it’s ideal if you can land your anchor into a wall stud, but if you can’t, invest in toggle bolts, cleat style hooks, or heavy-duty OOK hooks, all of which get a big thumbs up from me for being able to carry a heavy load.
Take your family into account.
Are you installing your frames in a location that they’re likely to get knocked or curiously touched by little hands? Use extra wall adhesives to affix the frames to the wall themselves. I like the Command products from 3M because they won’t cause any damage to your wall long-term, and can be removed cleanly from the paint when you’re ready to change things up again.
My newest revelation is that it’s easy to integrate a little magnetic feature into a gallery wall using zinc-coated mending plates, which create an instant magnetic surface. They make a gallery wall easy to keep fresh, but would be a great trick for unframed art anywhere in your home (psst, I also want to add them to the inside of a kitchen shelf for a handy place to post a recipe while cooking).
DIY Network shares more tips for hanging photos in this article. Other ideas to share from your own experiences? Tell us in the comments!