Art on the Wall

How to Display Your Photos

Making a house feel like your home takes time and planning. There are a lot of options that incorporate custom family art with design elements that fit your personal style.  Whether you are decorating a space for the first time or updating an area of your home to better reflect your current tastes, this article will provide you with some options to consider as well as tips on how to make it happen.

Choose a Look that Fits

The images throughout this article were featured by other publishers. Links to the original publication have been made available, if you would like to learn more.

Gallery Wall

Refined or Eclectic, this option can work in areas all over your home and can be planned in a way that fits you

Elle Decor

Photo Mural

Make a statement by featuring a large scale photo as a mural. Advancements in tech allow you to adhere the mural without negatively impacting the wall behind it, so a change in the future isn’t all that difficult to make.

Architectural Digest

Shelf/Ledge

Gallery shelves and ledges allow for easier changes down the road and a finished look from the start; however, not every wall is right for a shelf. I love this example featured in Architectural Digest from Brooke Shields' home.

Architectural Digest
Making a Gallery

Getting Started

Looking for flexibility? 

  • Choose a large wall where you can add to it over time
  • Craft a layout that is scattered vs. block/symmetrical (anchor the design by placing one large item first and the smaller items around it)
  • Choose an eclectic look with a mix of frames and other elements (art pieces, maps, clocks, mirrors, etc)
    • Adding Elements: Use your gallery wall to tell your story. Include design elements you have collected over your life like postcards and letters from family/friends, art that inspires you, or vintage family photos.

Want a complete look?

  • Fill a space that has a set purpose (where furniture changes won’t make an impact): hallway, stairwell or top of the stairs, entryway/foyer, room divider walls, mantel 
  • Go with a block/symmetrical layout with consistent spacing or one that uses 2-3 horizontal lines to anchor the pieces
  • Keep frames identical in structure, material or theme like the ones featured in the design here by Elizabeth Krueger Design (color palette, art pieces from the same artist or topical)

Planning and Placement:

  • Use kraft, postal, or wrapping paper to plan your layout (wrapping paper with grid lines will provide the most guidance)
  • Trace each item you intend to hand and create a cut-out complete with markers for where any nails need to make contact for hanging
  • Decide how much space you want between your pieces (usually between two and four inches) and cut out a spacer stencil
  • Arrange the cut-outs with painter’s tape in the space you intend to fill.

This Top-Down design (where the top row of art all start at the same height) was featured on the One King’s Lane website.

Design “Rules” to Keep in Mind

  • Keep an even border of wall space around the left and right portion of your wall making sure you have about the same or more space on top
  • The total width of the layout should be between .57 and .75 the width of the furniture it is above. Here are the standard sizes of wall art to hang above furniture in your home:
    • Twin bed, choose art that’s between 22-30” wide.
    • Full bed, choose art that’s between 30-41” wide.
    • Queen bed, choose art that’s between 34-45” wide.
    • King bed, choose art that’s between 43-57” wide.
    • Fireplace, match the width of the art to the width of the fireplace opening.
    • 96” sofa, get 54-72” art.
    • 72” sofa, get 41-54” art.
    • 60” table, choose art that’s between 34-45” wide.
  • If using an anchor piece, it’s bottom should be about 60in from the ground
  • Make sure your spacing is consistent. If spacing feels off, consider going wider or thinner based on your frame choice. The larger the frame, the larger the space should be; the smaller the frame, the smaller the space should be.
  • Do you have at least one base horizontal line (where multiple pieces are at the same height either at the top or bottom)?
  • How many pieces are you hanging? Subconsciously, the eye likes things in odd numbers. If you don’t have an uneven number, then plan to add one object later and leave space for it at one of the ends. There is one acceptation to this rule, and that is hanging things in pairs.

Still not sure it’s right? Take a break from your adjustments and come back with fresh eyes.

Finalizing Your Design

It's Hammer Time

  • Make sure your clasp/nail markings on your cut-outs are accurate before hammering into your wall. 
  • Hammer right through the paper
  • Hang the piece and confirm you like the result
  • Continue for all items in your gallery
  • Take a step back once all pieces are hung and make sure you like the result
  • Remove the paper cut-outs

That’s really all it takes to make a gallery wall happen!

If you decided to utilize shelves or ledges, your task ahead is a little simpler. You will want to collect frames that coordinate well with one another and that will fit the space you have for them. The adding other design elements, make sure their colors or theme work with the images and frames you already have planned for the display.

Lastly, if you are interested in a photo mural for your home, please reach out to me for guidance on what materials are available, how to order, and my recommendations on installation.

Happy Decorating!