How to Hang a Wall Gallery (Without Heartbreak)

As with all things in life, there’s the instinctive way to hang a collage of artworks as a stunning wall gallery (“Look, I’m pounding nails and throwing things on the wall! Hope it looks okay! Have some more wine and ribs with me!”). And then, there’s the much better way.

The much better way avoids mistakes that lead to Wall Gallery Heartbreak: pieces that make strange wall mates odd spacing between frames, too much matchy-matchy, that last piece that kind of trails off to the right too near the window, and a bunch of “oops” nail holes left behind as you keep moving pictures to get the wall to look right, or at least better, or give up.

Measure twice, hang once

Ready to save yourself from heartbreak and do it right, the fun and easy way? All you need is:

Sheets of poster board or a roll of brown kraft paper from any office supply store, scissors, painters’ tape, and a sense of fun. Your hammer and nails can watch.

First, trace each piece of your favorite wall art on a piece of the kraft paper or poster board, or measure and mark the paper freehand, and cut it out, to form paper patterns of the works. Write a small description of each piece of art on the front (“pink modern”) of each pattern, or attach a photo of it that you’ve printed out.

Now lay the real artworks out on the floor. Play with the arrangement of pieces like you’re making a collage, until you have an arrangement you like. When dealing with contemporary artworks of different sizes and shapes, this step is critical to happiness. Mind the amount between frames on every side. Our tip: even spacing amounts (example: two inches between frames on every single side) will look more professional.

Once you have a layout you like, you’re ready.

Armed with painters’ tape, tape the corresponding sheets of paper on your wall to replicate the arrangement you have on the floor. This is your real-life on-the-wall gallery guide.

Now step back and take a look. Is the amount of space good, or does the wall look choked? Are you hanging too high, or too low? Should you move the group left or right? How’s the lighting (natural or electric) going to impact the look? Maybe you’ll want to leave the paper pattern up for a couple of days to really see how light might affect the gallery. Rearrange the pattern shapes if you wish.

Feeling good about what you see? Yay! Now get that hammer and start to pound in those nails (be sure your hanging mechanisms are supporting the weight of each piece properly). You may still want to rearrange a few things as you go, because you’re creative that way, but you’ll have saved a lot of time and nail holes overall.

Style-easy! Enjoy your wall art, and be ready to tell your envious friends how you did it.

12 Comments
  1. Thank you for the lesson on how to hang art work! This visual made me want to purchase everything, sadly that color scheme does not match anything in my home. A few more examples in neutral colors ( gray / beige / green ) would help me tremendously. I could finally have great accents for my home.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! While this post provides tips on how to organize and hang pieces within a gallery wall, we certainly don’t mean to limit your options regarding the actual artworks you include. The sky is the limit! If pink and gold aren’t your thing (as shown), feel free to peruse our online gallery for more ideas: https://www.grandinroad.com/wall-art/. Not feeling comfortable mixing on your own? Check out the collections we’ve curated for you, including Study of Dog Wallart, Wallis Artwork and Rosemund Collection. Hope this helps!

  2. What are your suggestions for spacing for things to hang on the wall that are uneven shapes? For example, I am about to purchase hand blown roundish but sometimes oblong glass plates from Mexico. I would like 7 of them to go over the sofa. Hopefully I will get 2 small, 3 medium and 2 larger ones. Thank you for any help you can give.

    1. Shelley – We love that you’re playing with multiple sizes and shapes! This tactic certainly adds more visual interest to your gallery wall. However, when working with several shapes and sizes, it’s important to balance your arrangement. Space larger items away from each other and preferably on opposite sides. Pay attention to collections of smaller objects as well. Your wall would look unbalanced if all the large objects were on one side and all the small art on the other. That being said, there’s no one real rule of thumb when it comes to perfectly spacing items on a gallery wall. So might we suggest that you experiment with paper templates before you start driving the nails in. To start, pull together all your frames and art. Create a paper template for each object, by tracing the edges on large pieces of paper and cutting them out (true to size). Craft paper, butcher block paper or old dot matrix printer paper works perfect for this task. Then, use painter’s tape to secure the templates to the wall. Step back and look at the wall from across the room. Take a picture of the wall with your mobile device and look at the picture to see if you see any issues. Or face away from the wall and look at it in the mirror to look at the arrangement from another angle. Play with the templates until you love it! Hope this helps!

  3. Last year I purchased a dramatic painting of an orange streetcar in a modern city (perhaps Milan) with electric cables attached above it, and scooters on the right side. Only the the streetcar is in color; the rest of the painting is in black and white. I purchased the largest one you were selling (possibly 40″ x 68″), and would like to purchase another one in a smaller size if it is still available.

    Please email me at mellie.hunt@gmail.com or call me at (314) 724-6300.

    Thank you.

    Melodie Hunt

    1. Melodie – Unfortunately we no longer carry the Streetcar Artwork. We do, however, have a plethora of other options available here: https://www.grandinroad.com/wall-art/. Keep an eye out, as we’re always adding new additions throughout the seasons. Sometimes customer favorites (like the Streetcar) make a comeback. The best way to stay informed of new additions? Sign up for our email registry: https://www.grandinroad.com/EmailSubscribeView?storeId=11103&catalogId=11103&langId=-1. Hope this helps!

  4. I love this idea ! I have been trying to hang a collage of pictures on the rec room wall and got frustrated, of course, because it looked nothing like the layout I saw on this particular web site I got the idea from. Now I know what to do! A great project while I’m home for a few days during the Christmas holiday. Thanks Hue + Witt.

  5. This is a great idea ! I have been trying to hang a collage of pictures on my rec room wall and of course got frustrated because when I was done it looked nothing like the picture on this particular web site I got the idea from. Now I know what to do ! Thanks Hue + Wit.

  6. I love that you encourage rearranging stuff while you put them up because creative people usually change stuff. With that in mind, I feel relieved that I can hang decorations easily. I just needed this boost for my confidence because I have been really anxious about decorating. The perfectionist in me just keeps on stopping me from doing this design.

  7. You actually make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I in finding
    this matter to be actually one thing which I believe
    I’d by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely vast for
    me. I’m taking a look forward in your subsequent publish, I will try to
    get the grasp of it!

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