Joanna Gaines's Guide to Gallery Walls That Fit Your Home and Style
The simple trick to loving your gallery wall is that the mix feels a lot like you, the Fixer Upper star writes
I’m a firm believer that your home should be a reflection of the people living in it. A gallery wall of personal art makes a space come alive, and it’s one of the most literal ways your home can tell your story.
Gallery walls are curated in a variety of shapes and sizes. Think of your own as an exhibit of you and your loved ones—and the myriad personalities, experiences, and expressions represented in your home. It can be a collection of nearly anything that brings you joy—paintings, prints, architectural pieces, illustrations, typography, photos, book pages, sheet music, and letters, to name a few. Nothing is off-limits. Sometimes the pieces that seem the least like wall art can end up being some of the most impactful things to have on display.
Once you’ve culled the art you want, it’s time to decide on the shapes, sizes, and color scheme for your gallery. Consider the style you’re drawn to: Is it a grid of identical frames in a symmetrical arrangement? Or something more organic and free-form that incorporates a variety of shapes and sizes? Do you prefer a clean-lined style of frames or the laid-back look of unframed prints?
Generally, you’ll want to begin with one or two larger pieces to serve as the major focal point. I’ll typically begin with my favorite piece and build out from there. Keep in mind that your gallery wall can and should evolve over time, just as you do. Here are three ideas to get you started:
Gallery Wall Idea No. 1: Linear
I chose pieces for my office that not only appeal to my style (a blend of vintage and modern) but also hold significance for me. The antique street sign is meaningful because when I lived in New York, I lived on 57th Street. It hangs above a few clean-lined elements, including the thin black frames, a Letterfolk board, and the raw-edge leather sofa.
Add dimension to your gallery by placing art on a shelf or ledge. Here, a three-inch wooden ledge makes space for layering a few frames, which helps to keep the overall look from feeling flat, as well as fresh greenery, like this simple stem silhouette that helps bring the wall to life.
Get the Look
Gallery Wall Idea No. 2: Balance
Neutral artwork can complement a bold paint color, and a varied arrangement will add interest to a large or bare wall. Start with your largest pieces and build around them with smaller accents.
Sticking to two or three frame styles and colors will help achieve a unified look even if the gallery is less structured, and two or more of the same type of item or artwork can add a sense of cohesiveness so the curation doesn’t appear random.
Get the Look
- Square gold frame, ($22 for set of two, amazon.com)
- Small wood frame ($5, amazon.com)
- Wood-and-bead-framed image of city streets (simplethingsfurniture.com)
- Black Inline XIII image in thin black frame (justynchapman.com)
- Small gold rectangle frame ($15 for set of two; amazon.com)
- Wood rectangular frame ($50, amazon.com)
- Square thin black frame ($31 for set of three, amazon.com)
- Large thick black frame ($33, amazon.com)
Gallery Wall Idea No. 3: Symmetry
A gridded gallery wall can make a striking focal point. This arrangement is great for showcasing a collection of your favorite family photos and kids’ drawings or for highlighting a hobby or interest, such as sheet music or newspaper clippings.
Here, house deeds become sentimental art when displayed simply in thick white mats and black frames. This format is also one of the simplest looks to achieve and has the most impact if each piece of art is matted and framed identically.
Get the Look
- Black wood photo frames with mat ($21 for set of two, amazon.com)
Gallery Wall DIY
Ready to plot your plan? This technique for planning your arrangement avoids hammering unnecessary holes into the wall.
- Using a roll of kraft or wrapping paper, trace the outline of each piece you plan to hang and cut out to create paper templates.
- Measure (side to side and top to bottom) the placement of the hanger on the back of each frame. Mark the front of the corresponding paper template with the hanger location. Joanna’s Tip: For an item with a hanging wire, measure with the wire stretched tight toward the top of the item, as if the wire were holding the weight.
- On a flat surface (I typically use the floor), lay out the paper templates until you land on an arrangement you like. Following the layout you just created, use painters tape to attach the templates to the wall. Keep rearranging the templates until you love it, then drive nails through the paper at the marked spot for the hanger. Remove the paper, and hang each item. Joanna’s Tip: If you are planning to hang your gallery wall in a grid arrangement, it helps to use a ruler, tape measure, or level when placing templates to make sure everything lines up perfectly.
Get the Look:
- Brown kraft paper ($15, amazon.com)
- Painter’s tape ($10 for three rolls, amazon.com)
- Black-framed illustration in red ink (simplethingsfurniture.com)
- Landscape Dusk Scenery ($41, artfullywalls.com)
- Bottom right painting (similar options start at $50, seanoswald.com)
- Black frames in various sizes ($40 for set of seven, amazon.com)
This content originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of The Magnolia Journal. Click here to subscribe to The Magnolia Journal.