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How to create a beautiful gallery wall & bring 'wow' to your interior

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Creating Beautiful Gallery Walls

how to create a gallery wall for interior design wall decor, Anita Nowinska

Why have a gallery wall?

As someone who creates Art in a very prolific way, how to create a gallery wall was something I learned decades before gallery walls became a firm staple of interior home decor. I used them to hang & store my work before it goes to its forever home & to create a strong sense of atmosphere in a room.

Necessity led to a passion for hanging a melee of assorted artwork, family photos, things which inspire me. Once I'd started creating gallery walls, I just got hooked & every time I see a bare wall, I just can't resist the urge to fill it with beautiful images.

  • A gallery wall is a very quick way of changing the look of a room or a colour scheme. 
  • Gallery walls create a great point of interest to a room.
  • A Gallery wall can tell a story, which makes a space more personal.
  • They are a good talking point as people get fascinated by what you have collected & put together.
  • Gallery walls enhance the interior decor of a room, really bringing a scheme together
  • A gallery wall can be quickly & easily adapted at minimal effort.
  • Gallery walls really show off your style & personality.
  • They can be classical, quirky, meaningful or playful, you choose what you want to say
Hanging a gallery Wall with Wow, Anita Nowinska

3 tricks to a successful Gallery Wall

  1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Don't be tempted to take shortcuts. Planning well & knowing what you are going to do will save you lots of time & stress, I promise.
  2. Have the right tools- Having the correct tools for the job is vital. Every wall is different so check whether it is brick, breeze block, plaster or stud partition. You can easily test in a hidden corner how easy it will be to hang. Some walls will happily take & support a nail being tapped in, others need rawl plugs & screws or hanging hooks. Some walls are such a pain that dropping a hanging system on transparent wire from a picture rail is the only way to do it. What you really don't want to do is to damage the wall by using the wrong tools. Believe me I know...there is still a huge chunk of plaster missing behind a painting above my front door because I didn't check! Don't be an impatient nelly like I once was, it's really not worth the time you think you are saving! If you are really in doubt get a handyman to come & do it for you.
  3. Get someone to help you- Now I do like to think I'm superwoman from time to time & you'll find me hanging on one leg off a ladder as it precariously tips sideways (Not a pretty sight & a disaster waiting to happen). Asking someone to help you hang your gallery wall is much better. They can hold a ladder, pass you things, give a second opinion & make sure things are straight from a distance without you having to go up & down all the time.

How do I Choose the right space?

Well, there are two ways of doing this. The eccentric artists method of 'see an empty bit of wall... fill it immediately with Art!'. Honestly, my greatest frustration in life is the limit to how high I can take the gallery wall on my staircase Higher without putting up scaffolding or learning to fl

small space gallery wall. anita nowinska       Hallway gallery wall-anita nowinska        hide a door with a gallery wall-anita nowinska

The more sensible way to decide on where to have your gallery wall is to think about which space needs a bit of a perk up & focal point.

  • Staircases are perfect, because there you have a long blank space which is always devoid of interest
  • A living room wall, above the sofa or fireplace or wherever there is a big enough bit of blank wall
  • On a wall at the end of a hallway or passage so that your eye is led through the space to a point of interest.
  • In a bedroom over the bed or on the opposite wall so that you can see it when you are lying down.
  • On those funny bits of wall where nothing else seems to fit.. the triangular gaps beneath the stairs, the wall between two windows or doors.
  • To camouflage a feature you don't like (I have a ridiculous full size door behind which there is a nonsensical space which has the electric meter & fuse box in. the galley wall goes around & above the door with a big painting actually hanging on the door hiding it & making use of the dead space.)
  • You want to avoid walls which already have a patterned wallpaper or mural as it can all get a bit too busy.
  • You can take a gallery wall around a corner. It look really great & leads the eye around a space.

gallery wall in the loo-anita nowinska

    But What do I hang on a gallery wall?

    Now, this is the fun part! The world is your oyster here. You can hang just about anything as part of a gallery wall.

    Paintings, prints, photos, inspirational messages, plaques, plates, you name it.

    Choose things which have meaning to you or tell a story, or complement your colour scheme. Alternatively something dynamic & clashing or with humour. Remember, this is all about creating something you & others want to look at. Let your personality shine.

    How do I organise the pictures to really look good on the wall?

    First of all decide on your theme;

    Are you all about contrasts, clashing colours & bold statement?
    Do you want it to be easy on the eye & relaxing with similar tones & a soft colour palette?
    Do you want to use lots of different subject matter or have a subject theme?

    Do you want you gallery wall to be a seamless part of your rooms colour scheme?

    Maybe you want to mix two distinct topics or colour ways? Say yellow & purple or black & white & floral. Maybe family portraits & photos over the generations. Traditional painting mixed with plaques or plates. Contemporary art mixed with quote’s & photos.

    Green & Burnt orange theme gallery wall   how to hang a gallery wall with Spring energy   how to hang a Teal & pink themed gallery wall

    It really is up to you, just have a think first about what you are gathering & how you want it to share a space.

    You can choose lots of different sizes & orientation, mixing it up makes it more interesting to look at. Or you may want something very uniform & balanced. Remember this is your gallery wall, your interior & your personality, so let it tell the viewer about what you’re into.

    Do I have to frame everything the same?

    The simple answer is no, you don’t. In fact it can be much more interesting to have a range of different frames or unframed canvases.
    If you want to hang a very uniform gallery wall, with a set of similar images, you might want to frame them all the same, but once again, you mix it up as much or as little as you like. Just consider how they will look together.

    Spring colours gallery wall for living room decor         how to hang a gallery wall for living room wow, Anita Nowinska        gorgeous gallery wall on dark interior decor


    How do I plan out my gallery wall to look good?

    You may have a natural eye for design or really have no idea where to start. Some people have a mind which can instantly picture how something will look, others need to see it in reality before they know if they’ll like it.

    Magnolia flower drawings gallery wall      gallery wall for living room decor of magnolia flower drawings      gallery wall of simple magnolia flower drawings anita nowinska

    Either way some sort of planning out is highly recommended so that you do end up with a wall full of holes (does that sound remotely as if I might have wrecked a wall or two in the early days 😀). After years of hanging exhibitions & interiors, I do hang by eye a lot of the time, but planning it out is much safer!

    There are a few easy ways of planning how you hang your pictures on the gallery wall, without bashing lots of nails into a wall & getting it wrong! Choose whatever feels easiest for you.

    Mix things up a bit, different heights, varying gaps, different shapes & sizes . Don’t put too many similar things all together or the scheme will look unbalanced.Play about with the spacing so that it looks cohesive but not too regimented.

    navy blue living room accents with a gallery wall    navy blue room accents with a gallery wall by anita nowinska    how to hang a wow factor gallery wall-anita nowinska   

    5 Ways to plan your gallery wall

    1. Use cut out newspaper or scrap paper & white tac to plan on the gallery wall: This is quite a fun way of doing it if you really need to see exactly how the shapes will look together. Take some newspapers or cheap paper like wallpaper lining paper. Use your paintings etc to cut out shapes & sizes the same as those you want to hang, or stick bits together for larger pieces. Using either masking tape or white tac (blue tac leaves stains, other tapes take off the paint!) Stick them up on the wall. Keep moving them around until you find a layout which feels & looks comfortable to you.
    2. Create a mock-up on paper : Take a note pad or sketch book & draw out the shape of the wall. Block in areas where furniture sits. Then sketch in the shapes & sizes of your pieces. Do lots of little versions until you are happy.

    planning a gallery wall

    3. Play around with cut out print outs: Take a photo of the whole wall with your phone & print it out. Take photos of the artworks  crop them. In you office software, pages or word put the images onto a blank page & play around with the sizes until the look as if they are a similar scale compared to your room photo. Cut them out & then then just have fun moving them around on the photo of the space until they make you happy.

    how to plan a gallery wall-anita nowinska

    4. Use an app to plan & move around the images; These days there are various incredibly useful apps available on mobile media such as your iPad or android device. Some are free, some you need to pay for.  There are a few below to start you off. Artists often use them to create images of how work might look in a room (There’s a little trade secret for you..I do it all the time as is so effective). How they work is that you can upload a photo of your room, import images of the things you want to hang & then put them on the room. You can move them around, change sizes to your heart's content until you find your perfect layout. Try apps like ArtPlacer, iArtview, WallApp

    5. Use pages or word on your iPad or computer to create a mock up: Create a document on pages or word. Import a photo of your room to fill the page. Then import your images, reduce them in size & keep moving them around on your wall until you are happy

    planning a gallery wall

    Whichever method you use, you’ll get a good idea of exactly how your wall/ room will look so that when you start hanging you have no stress, no mistakes & n banging in nails where they don’t want to be!

    How do I hang the pictures in the right positions?

    There are couple of easy tricks to do this.

    1. If you used the sticking up paper on the wall method above: Before you stick the paper on the wall. Mark on it where the hanging fixing is on the art by holding the paper against the back of the art & marking where the fixing is. If there is string , pull it up towards the top of the art & mark the highest point, which is where your nail would be..

    Once the paper is on the wall mark through the paper onto the wall where your nail will go. Do this one at a time starting from the top, hanging each painting as you go.

    2. You can also do it by eye, with your plan next to you. Find a point which lines up with something in the room on your plan & start there. For each painting lightly mark the top edge with a pencil, then measure where your hook is on your picture from the top of the frame, use that measurement down from your wall pencil mark to see where to bang in your nail or picture hook.

    3. There is a very handy gadget available on amazon or other websites called 'Hang & level' . It costs arund £5 & is really handy for hanging anything as it has hooks & markers to do all of the above.

    Dont forget, you can always change things or swap out paintings until you find a look you really enjoy.

    bedroom gallery wall in earth tones by anita nowinska

    Try A Gallery wall with neutral tones for a sophisticated look

    amazing gallery wall on staircase by anita nowinska

      Wow factor with a stairwell full of paintings

    relaxing blues gallery wall for living room decor by anita nowinska

    Use calm tones & pale colours for a relaxing look

    bright spring colours for an uplifting gallery wall

    Go for bright, joyful colours for an uplifting gallery wall

    Whatever you choose to create your gallery wall, whether it's a simple monchrome look, inspiring quotes, bright colours or a sedate neutral palette, your gallery wall will always create a wow factor. Have fun planning & hanging & remember there is no such thing as getting it wrong! Express your personality, passion & character to create something you really love to look at!

    If you have any questions, just drop me a line. If any of the paintings or images in my gallery walls above inspire you & you would like to buy a print or original painting to add to your gallery wall click here to browse my galleries.

    I'd love to see what you create!


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