There’s nothing like staring at nothing but the four walls of your house for 12 weeks to make you want to dress up one of them. With never-ending queues at hardware stores across the country, there is a quicker way to transform your space: a gallery wall.
Gallery walls — the art of hanging a collection of paintings, prints, postcards, photos and even typography and maps on walls — can be created instantly. The beauty of a gallery wall is its ability to transform a room, make a statement and add a welcome injection of personality to your space - without the need to pick up a paintbrush, drill or completely redecorate. They’re also the perfect way to add your own personal style to a rental property since you can add artwork to your walls without nails. All hail the humble sticky picture strip.
Whether you’ve got your collection of prints ready and raring to go or you’re starting your collection from scratch, creating your very own gallery wall can feel intimidating. So we reached out to Maria Hipwell, Creative Advisor for Art Absolutely and Founder of Park Bench, a London based interior company specialising in bespoke and commercial designs, in search of guidance. Much to our surprise, her advice had more to do with breaking rules, mixing media, and just not thinking too much about it than precise measurements and proportions.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, TRUST YOURSELF
If you've ever been on Instagram or Pinterest, chances are you've come across a gallery wall and thought 'hey, I could do that!', but here we are three years later and the prints you've collected along the years are still sitting under your bed gathering dust. You've always had an excuse not to: you're too busy; you think you need more prints; you're not sure how. Well, that ends today. The first step in creating your very own gallery wall? Trusting yourself. "It’s not as daunting as it might seem; your judgement and taste is a good as any," says Hipwell. "Don't worry about what others think, remember you are the one looking at it every day."
do your research
Just as you might create a mood board before decorating a room, it's worth gathering images of similar set-ups that have caught your eye — and asking yourself why they work. This will give you a good indication on what prints work well together, sizing and overall flare.
Don’t match everything
Mixing and matching frames of different styles will give a room a lot of personality. Try grouping interesting frames together. Just be sure that the frames complement each other and don’t clash. Keep some consistency, for example, use all timber frames or all black frames, but any shape, size and style goes. In the frames themselves, you could group a common theme, such as seascapes, music or similar colours.
use the floor
Now that you have assembled and framed your collection, measure the wall you plan to hang it on and mark that space out on the floor with tape. Arrange your collection within the outline on the floor, moving pieces around until you find a balanced composition. “Layout your pieces, starting in the middle moving outwards, I find placing bigger pieces on the right tends to help with the overall balance," says Hipwell. "Feel free to play around until you find some harmony."
CONSIDER A TRIAL RUN
If you’re still not sure how your picture wall will look, do a trial run. "Once you've arranged your prints on the floor, get on a chair and photograph from above," recommends Hipwell. "This will give you a good indication of what it will look like on the wall as a visual piece."
Remember: It's Not For Life
One of the many appeals of a gallery wall is that it's not permanent. You can constantly add to your gallery wall as you collect pieces or you can always swap in new prints, change the layout or even the frames. "Don’t be afraid to start again and re-arrange, or even sleep on it," advises Hipwell. Let your gallery wall evolve with you.
Main image by @ellabode on Instagram