HOW TO CREATE A PICTURE WALL / GALLERY WALL – STEP BY STEP GUIDE

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON July 8, 2021

& FILED IN Home Decor


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I love picture walls – they create a really personal and one-off look for your home and can be changed as many times as you like – but I often get asked how to make them so they look great and not a mess on the wall.

Here, just for you, is the definitive guide to how I created my most recent picture wall in my own home, with loads of tips and tricks as well so that you can try it yourself – enjoy!

How to create a picture wall / Gallery wall - step by step - tips and ideas

STEP BY STEP CREATION OF A PICTURE WALL

#1 – FIRST THINGS FIRST – WHERE WILL YOU PUT THE PICTURE WALL?

You can’t just get straight to putting the pictures on the wall – unfortunately – but it’s definitely worth it in the end!

To start with, you want to think about the following things: –

  • Is it a large enough space to create a feature wall with lots of pictures on? – the best walls to create a picture wall are those that have space all around so that you can really enjoy the wall without distraction.
  • Is the background plain and not patterned (so it doesn’t look too busy when finished)?
  • What room is it in? Will the pictures be appropriate for that room? (Home offices work well with motivational word art, family rooms work well with childrens art and family photos, etc….)

#2 – DECIDE ON YOUR STYLE

What type of house do you have? What style is your decor? What room are you in?

These questions are important to ask as you will want to complement the style you have rather than create something that doesn’t fit in at all.

There are so many ways you can create a picture wall – here are a few examples to get you thinking!: –

Lakeview Residence Living Room

This space is very traditional and as such it’s appropriate to use the same frames in the same size and in a very uniform way. The picture wall works really well to fill up the large wall without being too busy.

Clarendon Works

This is a more contemporary use of the picture wall – with lots of different types of frames and pictures. The white background makes the pictures stand out and again fills a very large blank wall.

interiors

Simple and effective – using black and white photos on frames that are the same style but different sizes. This uses a rectangle as the overall shape of the picture wall, which creates the illusion of one larger piece of art.

Contemporary Living Room

A lot more of a random shape – creating a much more informal look – this is perfect if you want to keep adding to the wall over the years.

Thompson

A lovely family room with white frames that make the colourful pictures really pop! I like the way that they have used two walls.

family photo wall

And this hallway fills the difficult stairs space well – I particularly like the way there are lots of different items on the wall as well as frames with pictures – makes it feel more collected.

Picture wall - Gallery wall - Ideas and Inspiration

And this is my own home – the “after” picture (you can see how it came about later in the post). I have used the corner of the room and the pictures wrap around it which makes the room feel bigger (especially with the dark walls). I have also used other things on the wall such as a clock, some scrabble letters**, and a light box**!

TIP – You may want to display things other than just framed pictures – why not think about clipboards with art on them, other artwork, clocks etc… and mix things up a little…

Now you are in a great position to get started and create your wall. You know where it’s going and what type of frames/pictures you want – so you can now start collecting together what you need.

Ready to do this?

#3 –  GATHER EVERYTHING YOU NEED

It’s a lot easier to create a picture wall when you have access to all the pictures/frames/art etc…. up front.

Now is the time to start looking around the house, or shopping, for the things you will need.

You know roughly what size you will be filling, and the types of frames you are going for, but along with these you will need extra items to do this project: –

  • Frames – gather as many as you can, because you may need more than you think, or not use some of them if they don’t work (TIP – you can always buy them and leave them in their packaging – then you can take them back if you don’t use…). I love TKMaxx**/ Homesense for unusual frames at a good price, and you can usually pick up some great finds at Dunelm Mill, Next and John Lewis** as well.
  • Pictures (to fill the frames you have). This isn’t crucial at this stage, as you can fill the frames after you have finished – but I find that it’s easier to just get it all done in one go.
  • Any other items you want to display – Think about using other items to create a more individual look. Within my own picture wall you saw I used a clock, some large scrabble style wooden tiles, and a light box – so you can be very creative if you want!
  • Hanging tools – A tape measure and level are crucial to ensuring you get everything in the right place, but there are various ways to create your wall (which I will go through later in this post), as such you may either want to use nails and a hammer, or you could use the 3M Command hanging strips** as these make it easier to hang things in the right place and don’t leave marks on the wall. Lastly – some large pieces of paper (newspaper would be fine), masking tape, and a pencil will help you get everything in the right place on the wall (and this will be talked about later also).

#4 – MEASURE THE SPACE ON THE WALL THAT YOU WANT TO FILL

I like to create an overall shape on the wall so that visually every frames I put into that shape means that it all works together really well and looks like one piece of art when finished.

I like rectangles or squares for this – but you could go completely random or use a circle/oval style as well – here’s an example of a circle arrangement: –

Eclectic Desert Pied-

Once you work out what shape you want on the wall – measure it out and write that down.

EXTRA IDEA – Some people find it easier at this stage to stick newspaper together in that shape and size so that they can have a visual clue on the floor for the next step – this is totally up to you…

#5 – START TO PLAY WITH THE ITEMS SO THAT EVERYTHING FITS

This is the fun bit!

Try out lots of different placements for each frame on the floor (as the floor is easiest to move things around), until you get something that looks right.

You will want to look at the following ideas: –

  • If you use different styles of frame, make sure they are spread out evenly over the entire wall
  • If you use different sized frames, make sure they are spread out evenly over the entire wall
  • Think about the pictures themselves – if you have some colour and some black and white, or some childrens art etc.. – then also look to balance these around the entire wall

So, now you’re ready – you have the tools you need to hang everything, and the design is laid out on the floor – next step – and often where people stumble – is how to successfully transfer the pictures from the floor to the wall and keep them looking amazing…

#6 – FIX THE PICTURES TO THE WALL

There are a few great ways to do this – so I’ll tell you a little about each and you pick what works best for you.

METHOD 1 – BY EYE

I start by turning over all the pictures on the floor so that I can clearly see where the fixings are. This then helps me to measure as I go between each picture.

I start on the top left of the wall and work from there. I use my eye and a little measuring mostly as I have done this a few times (and yes, I do get it wrong a few times, but those holes get hidden in the end ;o) )

I have created a little video of my own picture wall being put up – just so you can see the order it was done – hope this gives a little inspiration!: –

Picture wall creation video - Gallery wall

But if you prefer to be a little more accurate – you may like this next idea instead: –

METHOD 2 – USE PAPER TEMPLATES

This YOUTUBE video is a great example of this method – hope it helps!

and lastly – you may want to use: –

METHOD 3 – EASIER FIXINGS

As aready said – I really like the 3M Command range of picture hanging items – and use these as well.

They are specifically useful for items without hanging abilities (such as frames meant for standing on a surface rather than wall hung, or other items such as my scrabble tiles that were just blocks of wood).

They also make it really easy as you don’t need to be totally accurate with what you do – and you can make sure the pictures are all exactly in the right place without too much hassle.

Lastly – they don’t leave a hole in the wall – which is great if you are renting or if you are likely to make a few mistakes with your nails and don’t like the idea of lots of extra holes!

(You can see the step by step guide to using these fixings on THIS POST)

AND THAT’S IT!

Actually pretty simple once you get your head around it, and it’s always a great talking point once it’s done.

You can have so many smaller pictures that mean lots to you, and the best thing is that it’s easy to update the pictures as you add new experiences and events into your life etc…

I really hope you love the idea of a picture wall somewhere in your home, and I’d love to know how you get on if you decide to try it!.

For now – let’s recap on the most important tips: –

  • Choose a plain wall with lots of space around it so that the pictures become a real feature of the room
  • Get the style and look right in terms of frames and pictures that you choose and the overall shape of the picture wall
  • Make the picture wall suit the rooms purpose (home office, bedroom, family room etc…)
  • Balance different frames/pictures/styles around the picture wall so there isn’t a lot of any one type in any area
  • You don’t have to stick to just pictures in frames – think outside the box. I like the idea of using clipboards as well, as these are really easy to display kids artwork and it’s quick to change as they grow up.

Creating a picture wall - gallery wall. Step by step guide with lots of ideas of how to get the best result. Inspirational photos as well. Display art on wall easily with these tricks

Hope you have fun! – and in the meantime, if you’d like even more inspiration for covering your walls – then why not look at the map wallpaper – a really funky talking point that’s a little unusual – CLICK HERE to read more….

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