A gallery wall is a great way to put art you love into one place and make the most use of a small space. It creates more personality than a single piece might and is ideal for characterless rooms. An accent wall like this is an opportunity for someone to make a statement about who they are and what they like. It’s also a great conversation starter.
Gallery walls should be very personal and always in progress. For this reason, art consultant Kate Bellin of Kate Bellin Contemporary prefers to have them in the more private spaces of one’s home like bedrooms, stairways, hallways, and bathrooms. “Gallery walls in small spaces draw the viewer in and create and an immediate sense of warmth,” says interior designer Elizabeth Hague of New York based firm Emma Elizabeth Trading. “I like when someone collects these pieces over time, from their travels or from special moments in their lives which show their taste and their history.” In fact, gallery walls in small spaces can have an even greater visual impact than they have in monumental spaces says Hague. It’s really about making a strong visual impact. “For these jewel box spaces, it’s a great way to make a grand statement on a smaller scale,” Hague explains. “Just because you have a small space does not mean you need to design it in a minimalist way!”
Kate Bellin Contemporary
“Just before my first little boy, Lucky, was born, a funny thing happened,” says art consultant Kate Bellin. “I felt myself drawn to tiny art. Visiting galleries or fairs, I’d end up with a little drawing or a small canvas, and now after five years it’s turned into a wall full of treasured pieces that reminds us of happy times. Lucky has even started to become involved as well; for every Christmas he asks for a Matchbox car drawing from kate schelter whom he now knows by name. He likes for the car paintings to be hung low, so he can see them, and close together, like a race car team.”
Adam Rathe and Garrett Munce by HomePolish
Magazine editor Adam Rathe and his husband, fashion editor Garrett Munce, had toyed with the concept before in previous apartments, and decided to try again when they moved to their new Boerum Hill digs. “There was one area above the couch, so it seemed like the obvious choice for us to use that for a gallery wall and find other spots around the apartment for single pieces or smaller arrangements,” says Rathe. Getting the mix right can be a struggle for couples with works they feel passionate about and have collected over the years. For Rathe, it was really trial and error. “We swapped pieces in and out to see what worked best, and eventually used a designer from Home Polish to help us arrange and hang the art.”
The Neue Galerie in New York City, a museum for German and Austrian art from the early twentieth century, uses salon walls to present paintings, photography, posters and objects in unique combinations/ways.
These installation shots of artworks from painter and photographer William Wegman (known for his canine photography) showcase how one can achieve a gallery wall to make the maximum impact in a small space but on a large painted wall.
The Little Beach House
The Little Beach House in Malibu (Soho House’s latest creation) makes great use of gallery walls in small spaces. For a recent event planned by Alice Ryan, designer and creative producer Kila Carr-Ince reimagined the art for the occasion mixing in photography.
Gallery Wall How-To
The Perfect Mix
“I like to mix painting, illustrations, textiles and photography,” says Hague. “I have done gallery walls with a set of the same clean-lined frames or with a mixture of antique frames with various styles and colors.”
“Start with the largest piece at eye level around the center area to anchor the wall and work outwards from that,” suggests Hague. “The eye reads from left to right so it is also helpful to start with the layout from the center, then move to the left hanging your second piece at the same height as the centerpiece and go from there.”
“For the novice, lay your pieces out on the floor first,” says Hague. “Play with those shapes and sizes on the floor or cut the shapes out of Kraft paper and blue tape them to your wall until you are able to get the layout just right (especially now that everyone seems to have walls that are lacquered and papered).” Hague finds that two to four inches tends to be a good rule of thumb for spacing. She also recommends leaving at least eight inches between the top of a piece of furniture and the bottom of your gallery wall.
To Frame or Not to Frame
“A gallery wall can often be more cost-efficient than buying one large piece, but keep in mind that a lot of these walls include framed pieces, and framing for each piece can increase the total cost significantly,” cautions Bellin. Corinne Takasaki at City Frame in New York City is a great resource says Bellin: “gallery walls are her specialty and she is able to visualize (and then mock up) the space in its entirety before hanging.” This is crucial since a re-hang of a gallery wall can be time consuming/stressful.