Saturday, May 3, 2014

How To Hang A Gallery Wall For Next To Nothing

One trend that we've been seeing a lot of lately is the gallery wall.  Reason being, simply stated, because they are FABULOUS. They fit in any space, any design aesthetic, and it wouldn't be us if we didn't mention; any budget. A wonderful way to fill a large wall without having to purchase large pieces of art, gallery walls are the perfect way to update any room and the options are endless! 
See?! This is why we can't get enough of them! Fabulous examples from Top left: Architectural Digest, top right: Southern Living, bottom left: Liz Marie Blog, and bottom right: Emily A. Clark
Another wonderful advantage to this trend is the fact that you can change, and improve them gradually; replacing old pieces with new, updating outdated photographs, and even expanding and adding on with time, and as budget allows. And they are PERFECT for indecisive people (such as myself). Can't settle on one piece for that main living room wall? No problem-try ten!
With so many pieces working together to create one final product though, it can be a little intimidating knowing where to begin. Achieving balance can be a challenge, so mapping them out properly is crucial. To make the task a little less daunting, we've put together an easy 3-step guide to implementing this stylish trend in your home. 

The first step is to determine the space you have to work with. You'll want to figure out the size of the wall(s) you will be working on, if you want things to be spaced out or clustered together, and approximately how many items you will need to fill that space. For me, I knew I wanted something to fill the relatively small wall behind my kitchen table. So, got the long roll of paper that my wonderful grandfather made for me as a kid and rolled out three very long sheets to fit the size of the wall I was wanting to fill (multiple pieces of computer paper or even posterboard would also work), and just scotch taped them together. This would give me a general guideline for scale while laying out my wall.  
If you lack inspiration on how to properly utilize the space on your wall, have no fear! There are plenty of awesome guidelines online, like these ones from Hubpages (left), and The Sun Shines Blue (right).

Then you'll need to gather pieces you would like to feature in your gallery wall. This can be the fun part, but finding an assortment of individual pieces can be incredibly challenging if you are looking to keep things affordable. When you are using multiple pieces on one wall, things tend to add up fast! I knew I wanted to do a collage on my wall, however, I also knew that I did not have the budget to do so. I decided not to let that stop me (I've never been good at being told no anyways!); I would just have to do what I do best-fake it 'till I make it! So I hit my favorite thrift store; one nearby that does all you can fit in a cart for $10 one day a week! It can get pretty packed on these "cart sale" days, so things get picked over fairly fast (not to mention a little competitive and sometimes downright scary!), so I didn't have cream of the crop choices but I was on a mission! One thing they did have a surplus of were aged wood frames. These would do just fine! My kitchen is by far the "girliest" room in my house (floral table cloth, frilly antiques, flowers on the windowsill-the whole nine yards!), so the aged wood would flow with the vintage feel, and the brown color of the frames introduced a nice neutral in my otherwise brightly decorated room, and allowed for me to fill the frames with bright pieces without the whole thing becoming overwhelming. Amazingly, I was able to pick up all of the frames I needed for my wall in one trip (along with a cart packed full of other great finds), and spent next to nothing.

Once I had all of my frames together, I laid them on the floor on top of my guide for the wall, moving them around until I found an arrangement that was balanced in both the finish on the wood, and the size and shape of the frames. When I was happy with the composition, I took a marker and carefully outlined each frame where it laid on the paper.
You will not want to hang each piece one at a time. The pounding of the nails for the next frames you hang can cause the pieces to fall off of the wall (I may or may not have found this out the hard way). So since I needed all of the nails to go into the wall before I actually started hanging the frames, I then drew a tiny dot in each shape that directly lined up with where the nail would need to be in order for the frame to hang in its outline. 
Then, I taped it flush to the wall in the exact position I wanted my collage to hang.  

I hammered nails exactly into the dots in each shape (through the paper), and in a matter of minutes I had all of the nails hung. Then I just ripped the sheet of paper down, leaving the nails in place and the wall ready to start coming together.
Since I had the same budget for filling the frames as I did acquiring them, I kept my eye out at the cart sale for things I could use. I found the clock in the center (which was a little obnoxious at first but as you'll learn there is NOTHING that spray paint can't fix!), along with the dried flowers in the small barnwood frame to the center right, and a children's book with illustrations of woodland creatures and flowers that I was able to cut pictures out of. The rest of the things I found by shopping my house. Fabric scraps make wonderful fillers for picture frames, or backing for pictures. Most frames contain a cardboard insert cut to the exact size of the frame, which fabric can be fit to, or that can be painted and either used alone, or as the backing for a smaller picture, eliminating expensive matting costs. Also, there is an abundance of free graphics online that are absolutely wonderful, and with resources like pinterest, even easier to find than ever! Even if you don't have a printer (like me!), they can be printed very affordably in a number of sizes at any local store with a photo department. 

Eventually I would love to be able to transition my gallery wall into being a little more polished and modern, like some of the above examples. I plan on adding and updating pictures and frames with time, and as I can afford to. For the time being though, I was able to get one assembled for almost no money out of my pocket, which was the only way I would be able to make it work. And as I mentioned before, one of the biggest perks is that they can be updated gradually, growing and ever-evolving, like our homes and lives should always be.


  1. This looks fabulous!!! It's not an easy task to find the perfect arrangement of so many pieces, but you did SUCH a great job fitting everything together just so!

    1. Thank you so much! For such a quick (not to mention practically free!) job I was pretty happy with the results. And the best part is I can update or add to it whenever I want! Thanks for stopping by!