Putting together a gallery wall can be a daunting challenge. To start, you have to curate a collection of art and décor that looks oh-so-great together. Then, you have to assemble the collection and ensure the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. There’s spacing to consider, and placement, too. Where is this masterpiece going, and what décor will it pair well with?
Once you’ve finally sorted through all of these concerns, a single question remains: How high am I supposed to hang these pictures?
Interestingly, this question may be harder to answer than all the rest, because once you reach a conclusion, you’ve exited the realm of planning and entered the realm of doing. You’re about to put a hole in your wall—well, you’re about to put a bunch of holes in your wall—so how can you ensure you get it right? How can you figure out exactly how high to hang the pictures in your gallery wall?
Thankfully, interior designers are more than happy to share their tips. And we talked to two of them to learn exactly how to take a gallery wall from idea to execution.
Start With a Plan
Before you can hang a gallery wall, you need to know what you’re hanging, and it makes the most sense to start your gallery wall with a plan.
You can sketch out what you’re envisioning, lay out your pieces on the floor, or even cut out pieces of paper that represent each piece of art and temporarily tape or pin those to your wall. These methods will help you figure out what the final product will look like.
None of these methods is more right or wrong than the others, and each comes with its own set of pros and cons. “I say do what feels right to you,” says Memphis-based interior designer Laquita Tate.
Tate also notes that mapping things out may give you more security—but taking an improvisational approach can be great if you’re assembling a gallery wall little by little over time.
Hang Your Focal Point at Eye Level
Most people recommend displaying art or décor at eye level, and this holds true, whether you’re hanging a single piece of décor, a series of paintings, or a gallery wall.
But which part of your gallery wall should you hang at eye level? The answer is your focal point. For many gallery walls, this will be the largest piece you plan to display, though for others, it might not be. If you can’t figure out what your focal point is, consider where you want your eyes to jump first. Let that be your focal point and make it the first piece you hang.
“I recommend always placing your first frame at eye level,” Rasheeda Gray, the owner and Principal Designer of Gray Space Interiors, says. “Then, go higher and/or wider from there.”
As You Add Other Pieces, Keep Spacing in Mind
Once you’ve established your focal point, it’s time to build out the rest of your gallery wall. As you do, you’ll want to pay attention to your spacing.
Tate says a good rule of thumb is to keep 3–6 inches of space between each piece. She emphasizes that consistency is key, as that can help your eye flow easily from piece to piece.
Of course, you can take a more outside-the-box approach and experiment with inconsistent spacing. It can be a fresh take on the gallery wall—just be sure you’re not overwhelming your space.
"Sometimes, I like to break the rules and have inconsistent spacing,” Gray notes. “As long as there is consistency elsewhere on my wall—like frame size and color—it typically works.”
Make Sure the Highest and Lowest Pieces Are Visible
Gallery walls can run from ceiling to floor, and if yours is tall, you’ll want to make sure all your pieces are visible enough to make an impact.
“If you have a small photo too high, you will not be able to clearly see it,” Gray says. Make sure the pieces at the top and bottom of your gallery wall are big enough—or bold enough—to be seen.
Use Hardware That Meets Your Needs
Figuring out where to hang your gallery wall is only half the battle—you also have to figure out how to hang it. Gray says she turns to picture-hanging hooks to get the job done.
“Typically, they are hung with one small nail, and the frame attaches to a hook on the wall,” she says. “It's super easy.”
You could just as easily use Command strips if they’re sturdy enough to support your art. Double-check the weight of your artwork, and make sure to precisely follow the directions.
Whatever method you use to hang the photos, ensure its security. The last thing you want is for your gallery wall to come crashing down after all your hard work.
Remember, You Can Expand Your Gallery Wall Over Time
Your gallery wall doesn’t have to come together all at once. Curation can take a while, and once you’ve found your focal point, you'll have everything you need to get started.
“When I did my first gallery wall, I hung the largest piece first—which was the only piece I had for the wall,” Tate says. “Then, as I purchased more artwork, I added to the wall.”
Feel free to take your time stocking up on art, décor, and other fun pieces, and invest in pieces you genuinely love.
“If it feels intimidating, start small and add to your gallery wall over time,” Gray says. “Take your time when planning it, and enjoy the journey.”