Brighten-up that big empty wall: steps for building a gallery wall
It took me a year of living in my new house to get extremely fed up with the big empty wall on one side of my living room. I knew I wanted to invest in a gallery wall set of pieces that would represent our family, but I really had no idea where to begin. I did some research, and my husband and I began collecting a group of pictures and other items that would fit together. After this experience, I believe there is one central rule to gallery wall design:
Pick items that make you smile.
We did not want our gallery wall to look like a generic catalog-type. We wanted it to represent us. We collected some sentimental things we already had around the house, ordered some artwork/handmade pieces from etsy.com, and selected some photos for canvases. (my son is still really little, so we will probably change up his picture in a few years). Each part of our wall tells the story of our family in a language that makes sense to us (yes, that sounds super corny--but it reeeeally does). We have an antique plate from my grandmother. A canvas painting done by my husband's grandmother. Books quotes. Song quotes. Etsy really carries so many amazing unique items. Bonus! I love supporting artists from around the world. We found circular objects to break-up the grid of rectangles. We tried to use multiple types of media. We found a collection of objects that make me happy every time I look at the wall.
Once we picked our items, we had to build our wall. In our case, it's a bit of an awkward space because it's right next to a fireplace on one side and our entry way on the other. Here is what we did to get everything up in a way that worked.
1. Measure your space and plan our arrangement on a neutral background. We used a beige tarp on the floor in our basement to arrange our items in a rough draft layout. This way you aren't starting from scratch tackling a giant space. Using a neutral backdrop will help you get a feel for colors without distractions. We used painters tape to measure out the space.
2. Cut out the shapes of all of your pieces in butcher paper. We used this paper from amazon. It also works nicely for vintage looking Christmas gifts and drawing with the kiddos.
3. Use tape to arrange and adjust the butcher paper outlines on the wall. We used an index card and tried to keep distances between objects 1.5", 3", or 5." We were trying to avoid a grid-like appearance without giving in to chaos. We cheated a bit with the circular objects.
Make sure your design works with your furniture before you start hanging things!
Brighter Tip: Our design ended up being a bit off balance, so we decided to add in a few 5x7 frames with family pictures that we can easily update with new photos from time to time.
4. Measure where the nails need to go so that the hanging will match the paper outline and hammer nails straight through the butcher block paper. We carefully removed the paper from around the nails one sheet at a time and immediately hung the corresponding item, so we wouldn't forget what went where.
5. BE EXCITED AND ENJOY YOUR FINISHED GALLERY!