How to create a gallery wall like an interior designer
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
This isn't my first gallery wall and in the past I have just started throwing frames up on the wall, moving them around as I go, and usually ending up with lots of holes in my wall (which I could usually hide under the frames- so WIN!), but this time I wanted to plan it out a bit more...you know use that interior design background of mine and do it right *adjusts spectacles* so I decided to go the template route. Having hung my previous gallery walls the lazy way I can say this method definitely still falls into that category. It was incredibly easy and probably even faster than my old method- plus the end result was wildly better and more intentional looking. So let's get into it.
You will need:
- old wrapping paper (christmas paper that didn't get used last year is going to be perfect)
- tape measure
- lots of frames in various sizes, I also love adding in objects- I included a small tray in mine, but the sky is the limit- if you can attach it to the wall, consider including it into the gallery!
- art- you are going to need art for your frames and if you are like me you don't have a budget of $500 to get it all, so be sure to check out this post FULL of free art ideas.
A note about frames:
I purchased most of my frames for less than $5 at Goodwill. Garage sales and estate sales are also great resources to get lots of frames for cheap. I also routinely see frames pop up on facebook marketplace, but unless you see a large (really good) selection going for cheap, I typically am not willing to drive 30 minutes to pick up a frame or two. I also recommend picking a design direction for your gallery wall first before you start selecting frames. I knew I wanted to go the all gold, ornate traditional route, and luckily those were easy to find. All wood? Gold and black? Find an inspiration image you like and be sure to note what kind of frames they used.
Let's get into the tutorial!
Once you have all of your frames you want to label the backs of them all, you can label them whatever you want, but I just kept it simple and did alphabet letters- so my frames went from A-O.
Next, you want to take your wrapping paper and trace each frame onto the paper and cut them out so each frame has it's own paper template. Use the backside of the wrapping paper so it's less visually busy.
Here's where you want to make sure each to label each template with the letter that corresponds to each frame. It's also going to be extremely helpful if you mark where your hanging hardware is on the frame onto the template. Will this hang horizontally or vertically? Sometimes frames have both options already installed and that's so helpful! Installing new hanging hardware is of course always possible, but if you're like me you're lazy and want to avoid having to do that as much as possible. Once you have all of your templates cut out it's time to start taping them up on the wall! This is where you can play around- pulling off a pice of paper with tape is 100 times easier than pulling out nails and re-hammering the frame in somewhere else.
Don't worry if your templates aren't perfectly straight, this can all the tweaked when you hang the actual frames.
Once you have an arrangement you are happy with you can now start hanging your frames! I like to use the paper to mark where my holes are going to go so I don't have to mark on the walls too!
Once the frames are up now it's time to add some art! (if your frames already have art- lucky you- you're done!) I want to share my absolute favorite way to plan out art for a gallery wall with you! Take a photo of your gallery wall and the empty frames- it doesn't have to pretty, it's just to help you visualize.
Then open it up in a program like Powerpoint or Photoshop. From here you can pull images of the art you are considering, size it accordingly to fit in the frame, and really get a feel for how the art would actually look in the space. If you are using art you are purchasing online just take a quick screenshot, if you are using public domain art like I did, you can go save the image and then drag and drop it into your powerpoint file.
Is this painting going to be too dark? Is this botanical going to bring out the right colors of that landscape? This is your chance to see it all together! Above you can see where I inserted blue squares to keep track of the pieces I still needed to figure out.
Now it's time to get everything printed and put it in your frames. I typically get large scale art printed at staples as an architectural print, this is the cheapest way to get those large prints in color. You can also always print them online and have them shipped to you. Anything going into an 8" x 10" frame opening or smaller I typically print at home with my HP Tango on regular computer paper (different art quality papers could be used for an even better result too).
Now it's time to add the art into your frames! This is the best part and when the gallery wall really comes to life! One last step I like to take to ensure my gallery wall looks 100% profesh is to add a command strip to the bottom corners of my frames. This ensures they won't get nudged or go crooked every time someone bumps into the wall.
Here's a link to my pinterst board with all of the art I used in my gallery wall! Almost every piece I used is all public domain art that you can download and print for free at home! Make sure to check out this post for all of those details.
Now that my gallery wall is done I really want want to use Cass Smith's tutorial to create a DIY Frame TV and add a frame with molding to the TV to really finish the look- would be amazing right?
We do have a real Frame TV in our living room, which we love, but I just don't have the budget for another one right now. I photoshopped the gallery wall to see what it could look like with a piece of art displayed on the TV...so good right?
I'll keep you posted if/when I do the DIY version in here! Meanwhile, be sure to tag me in your gallery wall projects on instagram and facebook- I want to see what you are working on!
psst... I did the DIY Frame project for this TV and you can see how it turned out right here.
Want to see the entire process of our bedroom?