Create Your Own Gallery Wall

by Amy Renea Posted on April 30, 2013

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Gallery walls have been a hot topic for a while in decor and for some might even be getting a bit passe. However, when you are a family photo aficionado, gallery walls are your new best friend.  They are striking and interesting and can fill up an ugly blank wall in a heartbeat!

The problem?  Gallery walls can be quite expensive and I did NOT have an expansive budget to work with.  They require a good amount of photos to make an impact, and even more cost prohibitive are the frames.  If you are purchasing matching frames for a full set, it can get extremely pricey.  The solution?  A mixed media gallery wall full of photos, art, canvases and more!  Join me today as I walk you through our basement stairway gallery wall!

The entrance to our basement is a basic stairway with these HUGE white walls extending up to the stratosphere it seems.  I painted the bottom half of the wall to break up the white a bit, but I still had a gigantic white space staring me in the face every time I went down the stairs.  I knew that this would be a perfect place for a fun gallery wall.  The walls needed some life and it was a small, pass-through space that wouldn’t overwhelm the eyes constantly.

I thought about the view going down the stairs, as well as the view going UP the stairs (see photo below.)  Consider all angles of your gallery wall as you start to place pieces, making sure the look is pleasing from all angles.

Now back to the budget.  Remember how I told you that I didn’t have an expansive budget for this project?  I decided to use various mixed media, all in shades of black and white, for a cohesive look that cost less than a classic gallery wall.   If you decide to go the route of mixed media, pick a solid 2-3 color scheme and STICK WITH IT!  Otherwise, you will just end up with a hodgepodge of photos.

When combining pieces, I try to think in contrasts.  For example, the prints are small and “busy” for the eye to take in, while the charcoal canvas silhouettes tutorial here are large and utilize white space.  Combining the two gives a nice contrast.

Another way to save money is to spend it.  (Huh, what?!)  Instead of spending an average amount on everything, spread out your dollars unevenly.  By far, the most expensive piece is the large canvas pictured below.   However, it is by FAR the most striking piece of the gallery.

5 canvases this size would be cool, but that would cost a LOT.  Mixing a gigantic canvas with cheap prints (they cost pennies!) keeps the cost reasonable and the impact high.

I utilized the following:

To make the most of your “killer” piece of artwork, place it in the “t”.  What is the “t”??  This is a classic design strategy that retailers and designers use when planning a space.  The natural eye is drawn straight ahead, up and to the front right and left  when you enter a space.  You typically ignore what is below, directly above and to your peripheral left and right.  So when planning a room design or art display, focus on that front and center “t” before moving on to less important areas.

In this stairway, my large canvas stands front and center where you cannot miss it, while smaller, less impressive prints are to the lower left.

See what I mean?

In the photo above, you might notice a really cool product in the bottom left hand corner.  I had never seen these acrylic prints before, but I ordered one from Shutterfly just to check them out.  They are WAY cool.  Printed on plastic, the photos take on a shiny, almost metallic finish and the print is attached directly to the wall using the provided metal screw/bolts. (see below – they are easier than they look!)  If I would have known how cool they were, I might have ordered my giant piece as an acrylic as opposed to canvas.  Try ordering a small acrylic print to see if you like it and then splurge on a biggie (that’s MY plan anyway!  Are you with me?)

I don’t have the budget for huge canvases!  Help!

Another cost saving strategy is to use prints in unique ways.  Prints are so cheap that you can use them out in the open without resorting to expensive frames.  Order doubles if you are worried about losing your photos for eternity!!

I utilized several DIY display methods for my prints including an old crib frame (from ALL THREE of my boys!!), an empty frame with basic wire and clothespins as well as simple prints attached to the wall with washi tape.

My washi tape (a silver and white diagonal stripe to accent the black and white photos) held pretty well, but you can always place a tack into the photo and then cover with a decorative tape.

I used a blue tack below for demonstration purposes:

So whether you decide to go with all prints to save a few bucks, or splurge for one or two grand pieces, remember to fill the “T” first, consider unique display ideas and keep those colors simple for a mixed media display.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Please feel free to share YOUR gallery wall creations on the Shutterfly Facebook Wall !

Please visit Amy’s blog A Nest For All Seasons

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more about Amy Renea

Hello! I am a freelance writer and photographer based out of Hershey, PA. I live with my husband, 3 boys, 7 chickens and a feisty bunny named nubbins on a couple acres in deer country. If you ever stop by, I'll have a iced sweet tea and sweet potato chips waitin' for you! You can find the bulk of my work at A Nest for All Seasons. I am also a design writer for the award-winning Houzz.com, a photographer for the Hobby Farms magazines, a blogger for Crafts Unleashed and a contributor to the newly launched magazine, Celebrating Everyday Life.

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