This post was sponsored by National Hardware. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Art makes me happy. There are so many stories behind every piece.
For example, this eraser piece from Lisa Congdon. I am OBSESSED with her. I find her colorful art so incredibly empowering and inspiring. So naturally when she announced on Instagram that she was having a garage sale—I blocked out the weekend. I even declined a family vacation 😬so I could be there. And of course, I was the first person there—desperately trying not to seem like a stalker as I stuffed as much art as I could into my bag. Please don’t tell anyone.
Or take these incredible union railroad prints. I went to the slightly over-confidently named “Northwest’s Largest Garage Sale,” but had no luck. Then, after giving the flea market a second pass, I found a packet of these prints for a dollar. Pinch me.
And when you put all of these stories together, you get something entirely novel. It’s an eclectic blend that is exhilarating. It’s like a mosaic—colorful bursts all pieced together.
Why should I do a gallery wall?
I have walls with single statement art pieces and photography that are stunning, but more often, I find myself with incredible smaller pieces that can’t command a large wall. Too often, these smaller pieces get put in a “maybe-I’ll-hang-it-later” pile.
That’s why I absolutely love gallery walls. Get that art up and on the wall so it can be loved, contemplated, and appreciated!
Gallery walls give your eyes so much to explore. I love putting gallery walls in areas where we are entertaining guests or in sitting areas. Sometimes they’ll spark a conversation, but at the very least, you’re bailing out one of your guests with a place to dart their eyes during lulls in the conversation. Can you tell I’m not great at small talk?
How should I pair art for a gallery wall?
You might feel intimidated starting on your gallery wall because you have so many pieces to choose from. How do you pick the right pieces?
I recommend starting with a color story. Find pieces that have similar palettes and tones. We’re not looking for matching colors, but pieces that complement and contrast each other seamlessly.
Next, you need to figure out the best way to organize them on the wall. I always lay out the pieces on a table or the floor first. This gives you an opportunity to play with the layout before you commit to driving in a single nail. I recommend starting with the largest piece and then building off of it. I like to arrange my gallery walls like an island where you have the main body and then little islets and atolls that spin-off. Why yes—I am a certified cartographer.
You can try to pair your art based on a specific idea or theme, but no matter how meaningful the concept is, if you don’t have a clear color story the gallery wall will be disjointed.
Aren’t gallery walls difficult to install?
Not if you have the right tools! For this project, I partnered with National Hardware—and guys—I’m never going back to doing gallery walls the way I did. Even if I planned the layout prior to putting up the art, getting every nail in the right place can be a real pain. And I’m good with a hammer, but not that good.
National Hardware’s Level Art Tool makes installing a gallery wall a breeze without using a hammer. The Level Art Tool makes it simple to hang two frames at the same height. The tool has magnetic holds for two 17 gauge brad nails. Simply position them in the desired spot and drive the nails into your wall with nothing but the force of your hand! AND… it has a built-in level so you know that it’s being done right the first time.
I can’t tell you how simple and ingenious this tool is.
The slider bars let you adjust the width and—as a rad bonus—you can even separate one of the tools to place a single nail.
Another reason this project took me minutes instead of hours was the National Hardware Picture Hanging Assortment Box. It can be exhausting trying to find enough of the right nails for a gallery wall. I know you have a random dish that holds all the spare nails and thumbtacks you find around the house. I do too, but can never remember where it is and I never have enough! This little box has my favorite picture hanging hardware and made the job really quick.
I will take this everywhere with me now.
Why does my gallery wall need a mural?
Okay, so truth be told—I put all the art up and almost called it done. I know, right? Me?! Leave a wall without a mural?!
Don’t worry my loyal color enthusiasts, I knew it immediately.
The gallery wall looked good—but it didn’t sing.
Murals can help gallery walls feel more cohesive by highlighting the color story and complementing the colors in each piece.
Another thing that I love about murals with gallery walls is how you can draw eyes to the art. It doesn’t detract from the art, instead, it accentuates the art and demands focus. It almost creates a gravitational pull to the art pieces. Science!
How do I pick colors for a mural behind a gallery wall?
I spent weeks planning.
I’m joking. I walked out to my garage and just started opening paint samples. 😂
Start with what you have. You aren’t going to know until you have the paint samples next to the art.
I grabbed 7 paint samples inside and when I opened the orange one, the dot on the outside on the different than inside. It made me giggle and then I noticed that it was a really beautiful color. It was kind of a terracotta color. I looked at it alongside a beautiful pink I used in a mural I did last week and loved the way they looked together.
When I saw it alongside the art pieces, it looked stunning.
What kind of mural designs should I do with a gallery wall?
The most important part about doing a mural with a gallery wall is making sure the mural puts the focus on the art pieces.
My mural needed to be simple. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of time designing a complex pattern on a mural whose sole purpose is to complement other art.
I liked the sunset colors and settled on this fun circular design—but I didn’t overthink it. I made sure the lines of the shapes helped overlap and push the eyes up towards the art.
Play with the directionality of your design and try to draw eyes towards the gallery wall.
How do I make the art on the gallery wall pop?
While it’s not always the right choice, I love using the same kind of frames on all the art in a gallery wall. This allows you to focus less on the fact that there are many different art pieces and instead your mind focuses on the similarities and commonality in the art.
For this gallery wall, I used black frames that are clean and modern. Doing it this way helped unify all the art into something that felt like a finished collection rather than a random assortment.
And what kind of frames—well, I think your color story will help direct that. However, you can’t argue with simple black modern frames and white mattes. Regardless of your mural and art, this combo will make the gallery wall feel graphic and bold.
My colorful gallery wall and warm, sunset mural
It definitely sings now. I am so in love with this corner, now that I’m done, I’m still stopping in my kitchen to look at it. This is what a strong gallery wall can do to a small corner or space—completely transform it.
Bring some life into your home.
So like I always say PAINT ALL THE THINGS—
—But also PUT UP ALL YOUR ART!