How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall

Y’all! Yesterday, I was looking at the “before” tour of our house and couldn’t believe just how far we’ve come in a matter of 6-ish months. I get so caught up with allllllll of the things we still have left to do around here that I forget to see the journey sometimes.

Thus far, we have a living room, a breakfast nook, a powder room, a laundry room, and a guest/kid’s bathroom checked off of the to-do list, and a dining room and master bedroom mostly complete too. (Granted, no room is ever really finished, but you know what I mean.)  We still have something like 10 rooms to go, the exterior to wrap up, and eventually a Phase 2 of more major renovations, but that list of check marks is already way more than we finished in even our first 2 years at the last house.

And now another one we can call 90% complete: the foyer. Remember this?

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

This space had so much charm already, but with a little paint, a couple of Craigslist finds, and some DIY lighting, it became more “us”.

And now we’ve added a gallery wall to jazz up our empty stairway that stayed blank for so long.

It was just begging for a photo display, right?

The before and after of it all is somethin’ else.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

I attempted the gallery wall at first by just trying to eyeball it. Big mistake, HUGE. (Said in a Julia Roberts a la Pretty Woman voice.)

Our wall started to look like Swiss cheese thanks to all of my oopsie nail holes.

So here’s the old faithful trick I always use (and should have used all along).

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

Wrapping paper.

I used this method in our last house too. Just trace your picture frames on old wrapping paper, cut them out, mark where the nail holes should go, place on the wall with painter’s tape, and move them around as needed until you’re 100% happy with the placement.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

Here are a few more of my favorite tips, if you ever feel stumped on hanging a gallery wall for yourself:

1. Bigger frames are better.

There’s a fine line between a well placed gallery wall and one that just looks cluttered. If you stick to hanging a bunch of 5×7 frames and smaller, the gallery wall is going to look chaotic and messy.

Larger frames ground the layout, especially if you have tall ceilings. 11×14, 16×20, and 20×24 frames are the best to start with, depending on the size of your wall.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

2. Hang where you want your large frames first, and then fill in with smaller sizes.

So for our stairway, I started by placing a cutout of this larger 16×20 frame at the top of our landing.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

3. Use a long strip of painter’s tape to mark a diagonal line at the angle you want. 

I luckily had a chair rail to guide me, but you can measure 3-4 feet from the top of each step, mark with a pencil, and connect the dots with the painter’s tape to find your diagonal line. As you hang your wrapping paper cutouts, place the bottom corner of the frame at the edge of the diagonal line you marked with the tape.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

4. Stick to monochromatic or a consistent color scheme.

The more frames you have, the more cluttered it will look if you use lots of colors in your gallery wall. So I try to stick to a “theme” of colors. I love black and white because it’s simple and classic. But you can stick to a pastel color palette or primary colors or a scheme of different shades of blue, whatever your style. Consistency helps make it look polished and intentional.

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

5. Mat your art/photos if you want it to look more high-end.

A photo or a piece of art just feels more important to me if I stick it in a crisp, white mat. So if you want your wall decor to feel more upscale, mat what you display. My frames came already matted from IKEA and Target, but if you want to mat any thrift store frames you stumble upon, you can usually get pre-cut frame mats for $1-2 with a coupon at Michael’s

Some of my frames were originally silver and gold, but I spray painted them matte black to look like nearly identical Pottery Barn frames. (Mine were a quarter of the price though. Ha!)

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

Every time I walk into this room now, I find myself lingering around all of the sweet photos from my and Robert’s past 8 years together. Snapshots from our engagement, our wedding day, Olivia’s firsts as a baby, all of her little changes and growth spurts. I never ever want to take a single memory for granted, and I love that this stairway now keeps what’s most important at the very center of our home. It’s a reminder I need sometimes in the busy day-to-day hustle.

Now that this space is pretty much wrapped up, except for a few little tweaks (and maybe one day even a hardwood floor refinishing and adding more oomphy molding to go with that chair rail), we’ll be busting out the Christmas decor in here really soon. Eek! I feel like a kid on Chri… well, you know.

If you want to know about any of the sources in our foyer, you can see them all here:

Do you have any tricks of your own to hang a gallery wall? Or do you have a gallery wall already hanging in your house? I have 2 more that I’d reeeaaally love to do spinning around in my head at the moment. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. 😉

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it here:

How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - How to Hang the Perfect Gallery Wall | blesserhouse.com - 5 tips to make a gallery wall look polished and one simple trick to make it quick and easy to plan. #gallerywall #walldecor #foyer #entryway

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22 Comments

  1. Well done. The reason this worked is that you used a consistent color (and in the case of black, a consistent thickness of frame) to unify your composition. Mirroring the angle of ascent of the stairs also unified the elements from end to end. Black & white photos remain a classic choice and will never go out of style.

    I am a “retired” (if my family and friends will ever allow it) designer in Texas. I will pass along a trick I have used in my own home and those of others. Haunt the clearance section of places that sell frames. I wanted gold frames for my dining room. But there will always be many different golds out there. Also because I prefer an aged and well loved look, a little damage could be seen as a plus. So I sponged on layers of wood stain in the same tone as my wood work to tone down any gaudy shine until I had the look I wanted. It takes a very long time for the stain to get dry enough to handle, but it eventually will. I now have a variety of frames in a unified tone and have created an interesting display around and including my hutch. In addition to a small mirror, the glass panes sparkle and add light and dimension opposite the window. As a matter of fact, small mirrors in a stairwell composition could help expand the space subliminally as well.

  2. Hey! I love the look of your gallery wall. I am wondering if you might be willing to share the exact dimensions of each of the frames that you used in the gallery wall?

    1. Unfortunately I never took down that information and we have moved. However, If you you take the area of your wall and take the dimensions of your frames, you could create a similar look to fit your space. I look forward to hearing how it turns out.

  3. Hello Lauren,

    Just discovered your site and feel at home as my entry is a duplicate of yours, same left turn step set up, same hand rail with similar spindles and lots of oak, white chair rail. My style is more ornate or “fru fru” as my mother called it. (I love all things French and was in heaven at Versaille.) Mother was an interior designer mostly restoring old farm homes, so of course I did my own thing. Your site is wonderful, really like all you have done and how warm and friendly your style is. Thank you for the wonderful printables. Will use a few in my kitchen which leans more towards country. So interested to follow your decorating adventures and learn from your findings. Your home is so warm and presents such a warm and happy feeling. You are on the right path, trust your judgement. Considering your picture placements up the stair walls, had not thought to do that. Will let you know how that goes! Like the idea of paper first to get the feel of it. Wow, I learned a lot this evening! Bless you for sharing.

  4. This space is so elegant! I’m subscribing and following all your social media spots and anxious to get caught up on your beautiful home.

  5. Beautiful, Lauren. It is lovely to see your wedding photo and baby Olivia is to cute for words. I have mine (gallery wall) matted, in black and white too, but after seeing your thinner frames like yours better lol. Oh well, at least we have them on the walls to enjoy. Thanks for sharing another wonderful inspiring space with us. Can’t wait to see your new house decked our in her christmas finery. I have been thinking alot about mine and have to confess, I have spent just a bit cough cough ahem, alot to much on new christmas decorations and won a bidding war tonight on a christmas tree. I’m blaming it on needing to write my first christmas blog post, cause it couldn’t be any other reason. Right? Right, thanks.

  6. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I love the way your gallery wall here looks so cohesive, but it still tells your story. Kudos to you for doing it in an affordable way!

    My only current gallery wall is in my bedroom. I was stumped for artwork for above a large dresser, and I finally decided on a gallery wall of mirrors. Some of the mirrors I purchased, and a couple I created! I used the paper cutout trick for hanging the mirrors (you’re right; it’s so helpful!). Several years later, I’m still enjoying it. You can see it here if you like: http://www.impartinggrace.com/2012/10/gallery-wall-of-mirrors.html

  7. Awesome. It looks so beautiful. I think the new colors, and accessories make it look so elegant, but airy at the same time. I look forward to your emails. Love, love, love them. You are such an inspiration.

  8. That’s great..but how do you figure out the nail holes? They are different on almost all of my frames!

    Thanks!

    Carolyn

    1. I mark where the holes should go on the paper with a pen, and then I can just nail right through the mark I made and rip the paper down.

  9. It looks great! I’ve got my large frames all ready to go but the staircase ceiling in the foyer is two stories so I’m shy to pull the trigger. If I stay at an angle all the way up will it look more uniform and not get lost?? Help!!

  10. I don’t have a stairway as ours is a ranch style house. Did the photo thing in the family room and it adds some punch. not sure how I add a pic to show, but I do love what you did. Ps I laid it out on the floor and got my spacings right and then measured when adding hooks. Our houses are made of bricks inside and out so you really need to hammer into our walls.

  11. Lauren, I love your foyer and gallery wall, your vision for your home is coming to life. So love to follow along on you journey. I’m impressed with all you have accomplished thus far.

  12. I love love love the entire look! Perfect blend of clean and sophisticated gray/white/black…with the warmth of the wood! Then that beautiful pop of blue through the open door! Thank you for sharing!

    We are looking to buy a new home in Texas in a few months… and your design ideas have inspired my house search!

  13. GALLERY ALL THE WALLS. Ok, not really, but I feel you there 100% sister. Gallery walls are like Pringles. Once you pop, the fun don’t stop. On a serious note: our stairwells are so similar. I have a mix of weathered wood frames, matte black, and 2-3 antique gold ones. The bigger the better (14’ ceilings on our main floor). I love the classic lines, all b&w photos (#twinning), and simple layout you chose. That field of wildflowers picture on the landing is *everything*. So cute, Lauren!

  14. Your foyer looks so elegant, Lauren! Excellent work!! I’m planning to hang a gallery wall going up our basement stairs soon. Thank you for sharing the angled tape trick! That will make things easier. 🙂 I enjoy your blog so much! Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us! Blessings to you and yours!

  15. Looks absolutely amazing! Love the transformation. I would love to do a gallery wall up my staircase but it is a curved staircase. Not sure if I can get large frames to hang!

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