How to Hang a Gallery Wall Seminar

Gallery walls showcasing many pieces of art have been a trend for several years now, have you thought about adding one to your home but aren’t sure how to start?

gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diegoA few weeks ago I attended a short seminar at the home design boutique Bixby & Ball in Solana Beach, located in the first house built on Cedros Ave and opened in 2010 by Betsy Bracken and Melisa Anderson. Betsy and lead designer & home stylist Annie Weisberg were giving the talk, and they invited local professional framer Yael Gmach from Once Upon a Frame to add even more insight into hanging art and framing.

Betsy mentioned that gallery walls are a great idea if you are struggling with what to do with a big wall or how to incorporate special pieces into your home that may look odd or lonely by themselves.

gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diego

The finished gallery wall

Step by step:

  1. Gather all the pieces you might want to hang on your wall. Spread it all out and see what you have, and don’t limit yourself to traditional art pieces. Cards, sculpture, plates, mementos and other items can be incorporated in your arrangement. Choose pieces you love and items that will make great talking points with your visitors. Mirrors make great additions to gallery walls, especially in small spaces.
  2. Can you see any themes that connect some of your pieces? Similar subjects (beach, ocean, animals, travel, etc.) or similar colors are examples of themes, which will help you decide which pieces belong in this gallery wall. Choose items that complement one another for your grouping, but they don’t need to be matchy matchy. The frames should be all the same for a grid patterned gallery wall and the frames should be all different for a more loosely arranged wall (like this example). The frames in the example have a gold and white theme.
  3. Looks at the space you are going to hang in, and how it related to the whole room, such as above the sofa. If the gallery wall is over an entry table you can incorporate items sitting on the table as well. Make a cohesive space. You can even wrap a gallery wall around two walls if there is a corner shared in between.
  4. Once you decide on what pieces you may be hanging, trace each piece with brown craft paper and start arranging the papers on your wall using painter’s tape (which can be removed without damaging wall paint). It’s easiest to start with the center piece, hanging it at your eye level. Anchor the gallery wall with the largest piece either in the center or on a corner.
    gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diego
  5. Unless you are arranging same sized pieces in a geometric grid pattern, the spacing doesn’t need to be equal between the pieces. Think about having each piece centered on top of the next, and try not to have two pieces hanging at the same height (on the same horizontal plane) unless the grouping is a geometric grid. Remember that the visual center of the wall is different from the measured center of the arrangement or wall, so be sure to step back from your craft paper arrangement to see if it looks right, before hanging the pieces.
  6. gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diegoOnce you have decided on your arrangement of craft paper pieces on the wall, start by hanging the center art piece, and then hang pieces working outwards from the center. Measure the distance between the top of the back of the art and where the nail should go, mark that spot on the craft paper, then nail through the craft paper on the wall. Hang the art piece to check position. If it looks OK, remove it, remove the craft paper, and hang the art.

gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diego

Framing tips from Yael:

  • When hanging art that has a wire or straight bar across the back, use 2 nails or 2 hooks to keep it level every day, instead of using one center nail. (Use a level to hang those nails or hooks!)
  • If the room has lots of windows, ask your framer for a non-glare glass so you can enjoy looking at your art from any angle. Anti-reflective museum glass is worth the cost. Spend the money on the glass, you won’t regret it. If it’s reflecting, you won’t see what’s inside the frame.
  • Framers have control over your art. The frame is the punctuation, the eyebrows over the eyes to the art. Choose a framer you trust.
    gallery wall interior design tips bixby and ball solana beach san diego
  • A current framing trend is using lots of white lacquer.
  • The current trend in matting is using big white mats with lots of space between the art and the frame. Historically, mats were 3 inches around the art in the 80’s, 2 inches around the art in the 70’s.
  • Framing is usually more expensive than the art itself. Some frames are $300/foot because not many people know how to gild wood and gold together in a frame that will last for 100 years. Yael’s custom frame prices can be competitive with Aaron Brothers retail costs, with a lot more emotion and experience. She said it’s also good to use a framer because there are so many options, let a framer help you decide.
  • Think about the art piece, your house and its style, and the style of other things in the room, when choosing a frame.
  • Floating frames are popular, where you can add a frame around the gallery wrap canvas so there is space in between the canvas and the frame, the art floats within the frame.
  • See examples of her framing on Once Upon a Frame’s Instagram.

Bixby & Ball’s Betsy added that if you can only afford to custom frame one piece, pick the most special or most central piece of your gallery wall to custom frame.

Fetchlight art doesn’t need frames, but I know you probably have lots of other art in your home, especially if you are making a gallery wall and incorporating Fetchlight art into it. I recommend Yael for your framing needs. I also recommend Bixby & Ball for your interior design and decor shopping, thanks for the informational event!

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