Interior design

Big Trends Small Spaces: how to plan and hang a gallery wall

In Big Trends Small Spaces we’ll be recreating the most popular interior design trends on Instagram in rented homes and compact flats. This week, writer Megan Murray tries creating a gallery wall in eight steps.

Gallery walls are an enduring interior design trend. Whether it be a line of prints leading up a staircase or a whole feature wall, this trend is so appealing because it can be adapted to fit any space and taste.

And so, ‘how to create a gallery wall’ is still a popular search on Google and a common conundrum for anyone attempting their own. 

After all, while every interiors influencer you follow might have nailed the look in their own home, gallery walls can be quite intimidating if you haven’t done one before.

You may also like

Big Trends Small Spaces: How to create a stylish coffee tablescape

I’ve had lots of fun over lockdown transforming my living room into what I like to call the ‘pink palace’. 

I’ve experimented with paint to create a scalloped border around the middle of the room, as well as investing in accessories such as candles and vases which I’ve used to arrange my coffee table.

But, while I’ve loved redecorating many aspects of my living room, the walls have stayed bare which has, in my opinion, left the room feeling unfinished. 

So, inspired by the room’s pink theme, I decided to try the gallery wall trend out for myself.

ParallaxImageParallaxImage
ParallaxImageParallaxImage

If you’re hoping to create this aesthetic in your home follow my step-by-step process for an easy how-to guide on hanging pictures in a galley wall format.

What you’ll need:

  • Art prints, posters or photos 
  • Picture frames
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Spirit level
  • Command Strips

Gather some inspiration 

First things first: seek out examples of the type of gallery wall you’d like to create. There are so, so many different formations out there and it’s important to work out what your style is. 

You could opt for a wall crammed full of frames big and small with each one fighting for a space, or choose six frames that are the same size, and arrange in a simple rectangle shape.

Here, you’ll find some of my favourite examples of gallery walls from talented women showing off their flair for interior design on Instagram.

  • Home With Sisi

    Sisi describes her style as tropical maximalist and imbues her home with colour, pattern and texture in such an artful, joy-giving way. 

    She recently re-worked her living room to create this gorgeous gallery wall and I particularly like how she has managed to fill the space with so many different kinds of images and frames. 

    I think it’s genius that she has got her hands on teeny, tiny frames and squeezed them in between other, larger pictures to create a look that’s busy but curated.

  • Living With Lotte

    Now, this is what I would call a ‘grown-up’ gallery wall. Here Lotte uses a mix of vintage imagery in deep, retro colours for a striking but homely look. 

    I love that this formation doesn’t look crowded, sits in the middle of the wall and works out for the large, central poster. 

    Keeping this poster as an anchor for the other prints to float around helps to create a grounding effect which is also calming. 

  • Sara Waiste

    Sara Waiste has an interiors style after my own heart. I feel particularly inspired by her ability to lace pastel colours throughout her formation, staying faithful to a central colour palette of pink. 

    She’s also a master of bringing together different patterns and making them work next to each other. 

    I think the key is that, again, she focuses on one theme which in this case is flowers. Florals or botanicals appear in most of the art works and prints she has selected and I think this ties them together.

Pick your art prints 

I knew that I wanted to go for a tonal look, so I started collecting prints that spoke to me and had accents of my key colours of pink, red and orange.

Getting a mix of images is really important so I would recommend not going for only posters, only photos or only typography. Ideally, you want four or five prints at the minimum in a mix of visuals.

Some of my favourite places to buy art prints from are Oliver Bonas, Astrid Wilson, Liberty London, Tate Shop, Society 6, Isabelle Feliu and Studio Clemence.

Pick your frames 

There is a case for using a plethora of different frames but to be safe, I would recommend sticking with either lighter or darker colours. You really don’t need to use matching frames, in fact, I think that looks too corporate. 

But, my advice would be to mix light wood, white wood, rattan, bamboo, mother of pearl and even gold, or to opt for dark woods, black, grey, metals and darker colours. 

My favourite place to get picture frames is Desenio. This brand specialises in frames so there’s lots of choice in size and material, plus they have a big selection of art prints, too. Delivery is quick and easy, and the customer service is good.

Plot out and hang your gallery wall

  • 1. Lay out all of your options on the floor

    I had been gathering art prints for a while before I started thinking about my gallery wall formation, so to start with I laid out all of my options. 

    Initially I wanted to include a mix of art, photography, typography, pattern and a poster, but my wall isn’t big enough to carry off all of these prints. 

    Instead, I whittled down the options based on which colours worked best together and, inspired by Sara Waiste, if there was a central theme running through them.

  • 2. Mock out a formation

    After looking at all of the art prints I had, I used my measuring tape to roughly measure out the area of wall I wanted to fill and replicated this on the floor so that I could see how many prints would fit. 

    The general aesthetic I was looking to achieve was not uninformed but with a theme running throughout; a feeling of balanced randomness. I chose pink and red as my main colour scheme and stuck to oak or gold Desenio frames so that while I was using two colours, the frames still matched. I was also careful not to bulk the colours together, I didn’t want half of the gallery formation to be gold frames and the other oak, so I mixed them up. 

    To choose which prints would go where, I started at the centre with one of the larger prints and worked outwards. This is when having a measured out space became really helpful. 

    In the end, mixing landscape with portrait helped me work with the space I had. Inspired by Sara Waiste, I also followed a botanical theme and chose to incorporate the prints that featured floral images.

    Top tip: take a picture of your formation when you think you’ve got it right so that you can refer to it later. 

  • 3. Outline the sizes of your pictures on the wall

    Now it’s time to put the method into practice. Using a pencil I outlined the corners of each print on the wall to see if they would fit into the space.

    By seeing where each print would sit I could work out if my plans would work in reality and it helped me to feel more confident when attaching the frames to the wall.

  • 4. Start with the biggest or most prominent print

    After attaching my Command strips to my frames, I held the most central print in my formation in position. I was careful to keep it a couple of inches away from the wall so that I could use my spirit level to check how level it was.

    When it looked like it was in the right position I pressed the frame firmly onto the wall to stick it in place.

  • 5. Work out from the middle

    With my pencil marks in place, my Command Strips pre-stuck on my frames and a formation planned out, I pressed each frame onto the wall and voila, the gallery wall was finished!

Shop the look

Pink breakfast in bed art print

Oliver Bonas / £65

Breakfast in Bed art print

Wrap Magazine pink leaf design

Linnéa Andersson / £4.75

Leaves wrapping paper

Desenio wooden picture frame

Desenio / £26.95

Oak picture frame

Pink floral art print

Liv & Dom / £20

Warm floral nude print

Red and pink marble art print

Fiorella Gianini / £35

Beyond Process I art print

Desenio gold frame

Desenio / £14.95

Gold frame

Pink marbled wrapping paper

Wanderlust Paper Co. / £2.50

Marbled wrapping paper

Flowery art print

Astrid Wilson / £29.90

Bologna art print

Oak photo frame Desenio

Desenio / £4.95

Oak picture frame

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Megan Murray