As we all know I am a huge fan of personality laden interiors… ones that make your heart skip a beat and your pulse rate quicken. In order to inject personality you need stuff, and that goes for your walls too. Art galleries are the most inexpensive way to turn a big ol’ plain boring wall into an extraordinary wall.
Starting an art collection sounds scary, grown up and expensive all at the same time but believe me it really doesn’t have to be. Posters, illustrations, things torn from a magazine, flea market finds and photography all add instant pizzazz. I’ve written before about finding art on the cheap, and to be honest a gallery wall is the best way to bring all these sorts of bargainous finds together. It’s not so much about any individual piece (you don’t need a Picasso or a Rothko on your wall!) but about the effect of them all en masse. Gallery walls are definitely more than the sum of their parts, and the best thing is anything goes. Having said that I’ve got a few pointers to share with you so you can knock it out of the park…
Forget everything you read about rules and composition, if you are going for a group of art then higgledy-piggledy (or “salon style” in interiors speak) looks amazing. This is the trick I go back to time and time again, because I love the relaxed, “oh this – I just threw it up” sort of vibe. Some of my favourite examples in the slideshow above are the art arrangements that look as though they’ve grown organically, kinda like a creeping ivy until before you know it, they’ve taken over the whole wall!
Of course you don’t just throw it up at all, it takes quite a lot of time and headache coming up with the composition, but hey. There are tricks to get you on the right track. Don’t bother getting hung up about whether everything is aligned or perfectly measured, it’s more about the flow of the whole arrangement. You want to make sure your eye keeps roving around the whole arrangement, being drawn from one cool artwork to another. It’s instinctive and takes some time to get a knack for it, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s easiest if you give yourself an anchor or focal point to start with, so perhaps plump for your largest/boldest/coolest/favourite art piece to start with. Get that in place and then build the rest round it. Top tip: it’s best if you don’t hang this focal piece dead centre. Going slightly off-centre is much cooler for that whole bohemian vibe we’re looking for, and also looks less “decorating by numbers”.
The mix and match fun doesn’t just go for the art, but frames and art styles too. Think modern with traditional, photography with oils, wooden frames with sleeks metals, distressed old finds with new prints. You can squeeze this sort of art arrangement into any odd niche or neglected corner – think lacklustre hallways, downstairs loos, used to disguise the TV or even above doors and below windows. Experiment, have fun, and the best advice I can give is don’t overthink it.
You can theme your gallery wall in all sorts of ways too. This is a great trick if you want to pull off a more tightly sophisticated, cohesive effect, or if you’re worried about pulling off the higgledy-piggledy eclectic look. Some of the art arrangements above are grouped by colour – a chocolately palette of dark browns and neutrals, say, or a totally monochromatic gallery wall. Others unify in their choice of frames, or by blocking the space with exactly the same size art pieces. This grid pattern arrangement is a touch too formulaic and uptight for me so you wouldn’t find it in my pad, but it can look amazing in more formal spaces. It definitely brings drama, particularly if you can cover every inch of a wall from floor to ceiling!
The other trick of course is to opt for similar art pieces – like photographic prints, or all portraits. If you go this route you’ll need to bring in a bit of tension elsewhere in the display to stop it all being too one-note… I’m obsessed with the wall of ye olde worlde type portraits juxtaposed with the modern classic wall lamp. Sounds weird I know, but remember that interiors are all about creating tension! It’s where different styles and textures rub up against each other that something magical happens.