How to Curate a Gallery Wall
A M A N D A O R R
D E S I G N A S S O C I A T E
As a self-diagnosed “art hoarder” I have a deep appreciation for what art can do for a space. Art adds dimension, texture, and personality. It can juxtapose the style of a home for a cool, current feel (think: modern, abstract art in a historical home) or it can reinforce the existing architecture of a space.
Most of all, art affords us the opportunity to express ourselves in our homes. A good gallery wall creates a focal point to showcase who we are and what we love.
Here are a few tips you can follow to curate a successful gallery wall in your own home.
S O U R C E A R T
Sourcing art is an ongoing task (and possibly the most fun part of the process!) You never know where you’re going to find a must-have piece. I’ve found some of my favorite pieces of art in some interesting places; estate sales, the garbage, my grandpa’s dental office basement, the list goes on.
A few of my favorite places to look for art, local and otherwise …
Ann Arbor Artists, Ellen Sherman’s gestural watercolors are gorgeous additions to any gallery wall.
L O C A L S P O T S
Treasure Mart - Can’t stress enough. Almost never fails me.
The Saline Antiques Market - Lots of vintage style paintings, various art prints. I just got an awesome indigo-dyed textile at the last market day. I have it hanging on a blanket ladder next to my gallery wall.
Thistle & Bess - Great art collection, such a beautifully curated shop in general.
Hollander’s in Kerrytown - Huge selection of handmade papers - framing a particularly awesome piece of paper (or gift wrap) is an inexpensive way to create art.
Local Artists - So many great artists in the area, but I have to say Ellen Sherman’s abstract pieces SPEAK to me.
Whitetail Farm - Shameless plug, but we have (and can help you source) great art.
O N L I N E
Artfully Walls - Highly curated online art collection. They can also help you install your gallery wall!
MoMA Design Store - Great selection of art prints and framed art. Shop by artist.
Ebay & Craigslist - You can find serious hidden gems if you spend enough time looking.
A T H O M E
Kids - The right frame can elevate your kid’s art to gallery status.
Family photo albums
Family member’s basement art collections - nothing like pillaging your loved ones homes in search of forgotten treasures!
B R E A K T R A D I T I O N
If you love an object, curate art around it. Not every piece on your gallery wall has to be a traditional painting.
A few non-traditional objects I use over and over when designing gallery walls:
When I was in college I designed a gallery wall in my apartment around my grandma’s ballet shoes from the 1940s. If an something inspires you, let it.
P I C K A T H E M E
The best way to join visual dissimilar pieces into a cohesive collection is to ensure all pieces fall within a theme or motif. Your theme can be loose or strict depending on your personal style.
S O M E T H E M E S T O C O N S I D E R :
Color Scheme | Examples: primary colors, cool tones, warm tones, or black and white
Mat/Frame Color | Examples: black frames, metal frames, found/vintage frames, all white mats
Subject Matter | Examples: living things, architecture, animals
Note: For best results, mix artistic styles within a theme. For example, if your theme is “Living Things” you could mix family photos, a butterfly in a shadow box, floral oil paintings, and nude gesture drawings.
D O N ’ T F O R C E I T !
The best gallery walls and art collections evolve over time. There’s no need to buy a bunch of pricey art for the sake of it, just like there’s also no need to run to Target and buy a cart full of random, inexpensive art to create a gallery wall in a weekend (although I’m def not against a run to Targét, in general).
Instead, choose pieces you love over time, and allow your gallery wall to grow and evolve with your personal style.
M A K E I T P E R S O N A L
The most important part of creating a successful gallery wall is to LOVE the pieces you’re incorporating. Make personal choices when it comes to art. If you’re just trying to fill a space, that’s how it will look. If something strikes you, it will naturally find its place in your home.