The Instagrammer's Guide to Starting Your Own Gallery Wall

gallery wall

Designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design; Photo by Sara Tramp

The gallery wall is, at once, excessively cool and inherently intimidating. Because if we’re being honest, most home décor is easy. It’s not hard to pair a couch with an armchair, or to throw together a motley crew of thrifted pieces and trust that things will work out. But gallery walls? Gallery walls are demanding. They require you to act as a curator, a composer, and an executor at the same damn time. It’s not enough to amass a collection of incredible art; you have to figure out how to arrange that art—and then you have to precisely execute your plan, as you meticulously nail piece after piece into the wall. 

Gallery walls are demanding. They require you to act as a curator, a composer, and an executor at the same damn time.

Few of us are good at even one of these jobs—let alone all three. So we do what any reasonable person would: We turn to Instagram for help, for guidance, for inspiration.

Thankfully, Instagram has a plethora of answers for any gallery wall question that may arise. The platform is littered with the kinds of stunning, sophisticated gallery walls that rival the walls of your dreams. Peruse the near-endless selection, and revel in the sheer number of solutions there are to this once-daunting challenge. 

No, the internet at large can’t hammer nails into the wall for you, but it can guide you through virtually every other step in this complicated process. And considering Instagram probably inspired your love of gallery walls in the first place, that’s really only fair, isn’t it?

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Choose a Focal Point

The easiest way to start a gallery wall? Choose a focal point, and build around it. This decorator has zeroed in on a stunning abstract work and selected a few smaller pieces to complement it.

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Fill White Space

That empty space between your windows would look better adorned with a work of art—and it might look even better adorned with a few. Remember that gallery walls don’t have to be expansive to make an impact.

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Lean Into Cohesion

If your aesthetic tends to be pretty consistent, lean into that cohesion. Your collection doesn’t have to be varied to comprise a gallery wall; sticking to a single style of art (and a single style of frame) can be just as stunning.

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Add Texture and Delight

Gallery walls can be composed of more than art—a fact this decorator understands well. Combining your favorite paintings with plants, mirrors, and other decorative objects can offer texture and delight in equal measure.

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Go Floor to Ceiling

The most maximalist way to approach gallery wall-making? Cover an entire room with art—or at least, cover an entire wall with it. Your gallery wall can get as tall and wide as you want it to, so don’t limit yourself to smaller formats if you don’t want to.

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Sometimes Less Is More

Bigger isn’t always the answer. This decorator understands that three thoughtfully composed small pieces can make just as much of an impact as one larger one. Plus, you can use smaller pieces to bring out some of the brighter shades in your palette without overwhelming your space.

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Mix and Match With Ease

Mixing and matching styles of art is particularly easy when you’re working within a given palette. And it’s even easier when your frames are equally consistent.

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Play With Shapes

Rectangles aren’t the only thing on the menu. This colorful display offers an expert lesson in composing with different forms, like circles, crosses, and hearts.

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Don't Neglect Vertical Space

Finding the right place to put your gallery wall can be its own kind of challenge. Here, the decorator has treated the gallery wall as an extension of a tall piece of furniture, and the result is nothing short of impressive.

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Choose an Unexpected Room

Bathrooms are chronically neglected spaces. And it’s little wonder why—the bare walls and tight spaces defy many traditional forms of décor. One décor technique that can handle these constraints, though? The gallery wall.

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Go Off Center

Part of the fun of a gallery wall is that it doesn’t have to be exactly balanced. This gallery wall spans the right side of this couch, rather than running along its center. And it’s much more interesting because of it.

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Highlight Meaningful Mementos

Though gallery walls often act as collections of art, they can just as easily act as collections of mementos. This decorator has created an absolutely captivating display using a family photo, a city map, and a drawing done by her father.

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Add Unexpected Elements

The coolest part of this gallery wall isn’t the inclusion of two musical instruments. That’s an incredibly interesting move, but the use of the ladder as part of the composition is an even more interesting one.

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Take it to the Bedroom

Gallery walls tend to occupy living and dining rooms, but they can look just as great spanning your headboard. If your bedroom walls are looking a little bare, try integrating a few works of art into your set-up to create a mini-gallery wall of your own.

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Make it Minimalist

Though this gallery wall is made up of all kinds of styles of art, it still feels decidedly minimalist. That’s because this decorator has made the most of white space (and those sleek, pared-down frames don’t hurt, either).

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Add Greenery to the Mix

If you own more garlands and plants than paintings, use that to your advantage. With just a few objects, you can create a gallery wall that feels minimalist, textured, and out-of-the-box.

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Work With What You Have

Don’t let a rogue light switch cramp your style. Work it into your gallery wall, as this decorator has masterfully done here.

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Consider Spacing

This eye-catching gallery wall is incredibly easy to replicate. With just two large pieces, three smaller ones, and two even smaller ones, you can throw this up on any wall. (Just make sure your spacing stays uniform.)

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Span a Corner

Gallery walls lend themselves particularly well to corners—especially bare corners that are in dire need of a little decor.

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Create a Dynamic Space

The objects in your environment are just as much a part of the gallery wall as the art that comprises it. Here, a desk, floor lamp, and computer work with the gallery wall art to create a truly dynamic space.

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Think Tall and Thin

Gallery walls tend to be relatively short and wide. But they can work just as well in tall, thin spaces, like the one pictured here.

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Play With Scale

While your spacing can be exactly consistent, it doesn’t have to be. This decorator has opted for four different degrees of spacing in this minimalist composition.

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