DIY Gallery Wall

1. Creating a Perfectly Symmetrical Display

Senior design editor Cameron MacNeil used six identical white frames to unify a collection of paper pieces, from postcards to retro cutouts to small prints. The frames have a clean look against the white wall, allowing the art to pop; red tones in all the chosen pieces create cohesion and link to the upholstered bench below.

Making it Work
1. Two rows of three is a classic grouping that has a discernibly organized look when the vertical and horizontal spacing between the frames is uniform.
2. The height of the furniture that will sit beneath the composition determines how high to hang the artwork: the taller the furniture, the higher the art. A low piece underneath grounds a grouping, especially when using white frames.
3. Since the white frames and mats will be the unifiers, it’s not necessary to choose pieces that have a common element. Simply find six items you’re drawn to and want to showcase.

Bench, Queen West Antique Centre; rug, West Elm.

2. Creating a Gallery Wall

A salon-style approach suggests a sophisticated European vibe that never goes out of style. Perfect for large collections, the gallery wall owes its success to the mix — but it’s not as random as it may appear.

Making it Work
1. The key to this look is abundance. So gather all of your favourite pieces, big and small, colourful and monochromatic, illustrations and photographs. Mix framed and unframed pieces for a loose effect.
2. Break the usual rule about hanging art at eye level. Instead, fill the wall from the floor right up to the ceiling.
3. If your collection is small, start above a key piece (like the sofa) and work your way out, adding new pieces as you acquire them.

Cameron MacNeil’s fail-safe method for hanging a gallery-style wall:
1. To see how individual pieces of art relate to each other, trace them all on kraft paper. Then, to keep track of things, affix a numbered adhesive note to the front or back of the art and give the corresponding traced shape the same number.
2. Cut out kraft-paper shapes. Using double-sided tape, arrange papers on the wall, starting directly above the centre of the key piece of furniture and continuing up and out. Keep arranging and rearranging until you’ve created a grouping you find pleasing.
3. In a tight grouping of small works, leave approximately 2-1/2″ of space between pieces; for bigger pieces, leave more (about 4″). Let the scale of the pieces in a grouping determine the spacing between them. And think in terms of a grid, with some consistent vertical and horizontal lines between the sections.
4. Add to your ever-evolving gallery as your collection grows and changes.

3. Creating a Single Statement

You don’t need a collection to create drama — a single piece has impact when it’s made to appear larger. A Polaroid by photographer George Whiteside has prominence when mounted in a large Plexiglas box: the framing adds scale to the Polaroid, the wide mat focuses attention on the artwork and the 2″-thick box creates depth.

Making it Work
1. A large-scale white mat creates negative space around an artwork, giving it room to breathe.
2. Position the art so that there is slightly more mat below than above. This adds a feeling of weight to the piece and is more pleasing to the eye.
3. When hanging smaller pieces of art, remember to keep them at or just above eye level so they can be seen closer up.

Framing, SoHo Art & Custom Framing.

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Laurie Grassi
From top: Mark Burstyn; Graciela Cattarossi; Tracy Shumate; Mark Burstyn; Mark Burstyn.