We have a lotttt of art. Evan and I both paint/draw, we have artists in the family so we collect art from them, and I have a tendency to save things that I think might make good art someday (a pretty page from a magazine or calendar for example). So yeah, we are overflowing.
Therefore, we’re no strangers to gallery walls. In fact, we have a 23 foot gallery that takes up an entire wall in our living room! But we’ve always played it safe in one regard – when we do frames our frames match, and when we do canvases we do alllll canvases. The living room wall has been 100% wrapped canvases until very recently. Here is a pic of how it looked when we first put it up, and it stayed that way for a couple years.
A few months ago we decided to start mixing things up and we added some black framed art to our canvas-dominated wall.
The other gallery walls in our house were all black frames – and not even different black frames, all the EXACT same black frame in different sizes. In our dining room I just recently added, prepare yourself, art with slightly different black frames. (those three with the mats…. yes, so different)
So after dipping my toes into the mix-and-match-frame pool, I decided it was time to actually jump in. The plan was to fill another wall and not be so matchy matchy about the frames, type of art, etc. The wall we chose for the job: our empty hallway.
You may have guessed that already if you remember seeing a few frames peeking out in our post about painting your yellowy fixtures white. That was somewhere in the middle of operation mix-match, but it’s evolved quite a bit since then. I’m going to show you how it turned out, and walk you through our method.
So there are two ways you can go about starting a gallery wall:
- You can look at the art/photos you already have and then go buy frames for whatever needs frames. Or,
- You go buy frames you think will make a nice arrangement, then buy/make/print things to go into said frames.
Because we wanted to get some photos printed and we had enough extra art laying around that we could fill various frame sizes, we went with option 2. If you have one or more specific pieces, option 1 might be a better bet for you.
We’ve tried a lot of different methods when it comes to putting up gallery walls, but in our experience the fastest/simplest route is to lay everything out on the floor in front of the wall, eyeball where the middle piece should go, and work your way out from the middle. Some people will recommend getting butcher paper, cutting out pieces that match your frame size, and arranging those on the wall with tape first, but I think that takes wayyyyy too long. I figure with our method, worst case scenario is that we have to move our art around and fill a few nail holes (or just cover the holes with more art, am-I-right?).
We already had extra black frames, and I wanted to incorporate some white frames, so I decided to get a mix of black and white, some thick, some thin, some with mats, and some without. I laid these out, along with some existing canvases. The lower left and upper right canvases were just spare ones that I planned to paint over.
So here it is up on the wall. Meh. Something just felt kinda off and not cohesive (and I promise I was trying as hard as I could to use my imagination and see past the frame “filler images” and the smoke alarm with no face).
So I rearranged it to the version you saw from the vent posts. I painted the fern art, the cross-hatch piece in the middle of the bottom row, and the mountain piece in that’s cut off on the bottom left.
This was definitely better and we kept it like this for a long time. Then I saw the gold Target frames. I immediately bought three in all different sizes and knew I had to make them work somehow. But with our mix of unframed pieces (canvas), white framed pieces, and black framed pieces, I wasn’t crazy enough to add another variable. So I moved a few of these guys to the living room gallery, and painted any black frames that remained with a semi-gloss white spray paint.
After much rearranging, and finally getting off my butt to get some wedding and vacation photos printed, I landed on this layout and I love it!
Being in a long skinny hallway, it’s not the easiest to take pictures of, but hopefully this gives you an idea of how it turned out.
It was definitely worth the wait because we love the balance of art and photos, the various sizes and how they all play together, and the color scheme that ended up kinda materializing on it’s own (blues, greens, and golds).
Hope this shows that it’s ok for your walls to be continually evolving. It’s worth a few extra nail holes to just start somewhere, even if you don’t quite know where you’re going yet. After seeing how this hallway turned out, now I’m wanting to make even more changes in our living room and dining room – so expect more art wall updates to come!