Creating the Perfect Gallery Wall

Daniel Lee-Jacobs Daniel Lee-Jacobs

You've done the hard work and found some amazing artwork for your home, but how to hang it!?

Creating the Perfect Gallery Wall

This blog post isn't going to tell you about how to hammer a nail into a wall, we're stepping it up a notch. Instead it features a number of creative ways to arrange and hang artworks in your home to create the perfect gallery wall.

Bringing together your collection of paintings, prints or photographs in a beautiful arrangement can really create a wonderful feature wall for any home. But depending on your collection and their varying sizes, certain styles might suit more than others! Below you'll find some inspiration on a number of different and exciting ways in which to hang artwork for your home.

1. Salon hang

It's only right to talk about the original way to hang artwork first! The salon hang dates back to the early nineteenth century in France, where artworks were positioned in a hierarchy on the wall, with historical and religious depictions closer to the viewer and still life and portraiture at the highest point of the wall. Due to the amount of Artists in France at the time, the walls were filled to the brim with artworks of different shapes and sizes. Now I'm not saying you have to be as bold as this to create a gallery wall in your home, but here's a few example artworks and tips to get you started.

Salon hang

To bring this style of gallery wall into the 21st Century, begin with either a recurring colour, a medium (e.g drawings), a theme (e.g portraits or figurative artwork), a style of framing (e.g metallic) or an artist. This creates the base layer of your salon wall which is more consistent. From here you can layer on additional details and highlights which draw your eye around the arrangement. For example, a splash of red in a painting, can be matched with say a family photo or print with red in it.

If you're lacking enough artwork to fill your salon hang at present, you can even team the artwork with mirrors or empty wooden/metal frames for a more quirky look until you find the perfect addition.

2. Picture rail

The salon hang is great to look at, but it can also mean a lot of holes in your wall! If you're conscious about the amount of holes you're creating then a great alternative is a picture rail. These can be seen in some contemporary galleries, but again the style dates back to the french salon.

This type of hang is better for Paintings and different mediums on the heavier side, as it provides a more stable display. An added benefit is that it's also easy to change around the artworks and the display itself!

Picture rail

Chains are hung from a rail or wall moulding and the hooks at the back of your picture are looped through the chain links (see how here and here). This creates a sturdy and level wall mounting option which is easily restyled and adapted. The chains can be slid along, linked and unlinked to create different heights or widths appropriate for your collection of artwork.

I know what you're thinking, where am I going to be able to find a picture rail?! Worry not, this look can be achieved easily and cheaply with a fine curtain rail and some picture chains - use gold for a more regal look or silver/brass for a more contemporary feel. (Just Google 'picture hanging chains'!)

3. Uniform wall gallery hang

Consistent sizes, frames and style give this display the look of a large piece of artwork at a fraction of the price! This type of hang works really well when all of the artwork correlates, and this is best achieved by buying from the same artist as they will usually have a collection of similar artworks.

StArt off by thinking of your theme, for example, if you want a more personal touch to your uniformed wall, focus on an interest or passion of yours e.g. books, films, music, places or even people. One of the must stunning collections I've seen even involved iconic magazine covers from the likes of Vogue, but just as good can be a wall of family photos.

However, if you'd prefer to just create a striking wall, themes such as botany are popular as you can bring nature inside your home without the difficulty of keeping plants alive! Simple figurative paintings and drawings are also a great route to explore; as are original prints as these can be a cost effective way of purchasing a large number of works with a consistent look and feel.

Below is a selection of artists who have a distinctive collection, with different themes to suit your taste:

  • Magnus Gjoen - street & pop art mixed with fine art
  • William Stewart - Atmospheric city photography or abstract nature shots
  • Elizabeth Waggett- Modern twist to hyperrealistic artwork
  • Chuck Elliot - Computer generated abstract experiments with colour, light and movement
  • Horace Panter- Pop art mixed with the American landscape
  • Maria Rivans - Vintage altered reality collages
  • Elaine Coppen - Elegant figurative linocut prints
  • Dan Hillier - Black & white surrealist sketches
  • Rudinskas - Abstracted and intriguing hand-pulled lithographic prints
  • Mike Edwards - Contemporary media typographic art
  • Bonnie and Clyde- Layered tropical holiday scenery

4. The leaning display / shallow shelf

Again, the leaning display is a great way to show off artworks if you're conscious about holes, or due to large furnishings you feel there isn't enough room for the art works to be hung on the walls.

You can layer different-sized, small to medium artworks on top of a chest of drawers, fireplace or little ledges found around the home. If you have a piece that is quite large, this can be placed on top of a solid piece of furniture, or even on the floor leaning against the wall, with smaller artworks in front. The great thing about this style of gallery wall is it is easy to rearrange, just pick it up and move!

Creating a shallow shelf is another great way to really bring this style to life. It's fast becoming a popular choice for those who want to maximise their wall space yet have a larger collection of artwork, photographs and objects they want to display.

I think this display is best for a mixture of photographs, prints or illustrations, bold images, pop art-esque or small paintings, small Sculptures or prized possessions. The layering of artworks and objects creates depth and visual interest. Depending on your style you can have a mismatched theme or a uniformed monochrome look. 

5. The staircase gallery

The staircase is usually overlooked in the interior design department, however you can easily make it a beautiful feature within the home! Using similar or different artworks featured above and below, you can create an interesting staggered effect that fills the unused space.

You can take tips from both the salon gallery hang and the uniformed gallery display to create a collection of artwork that suits you and your home. There's no rules as to what will always work and with this type of arrangement experimentation is key. Get a couple of friends to help you holding various items in place so you can picture how the collection will come together on the wall. Below is also a sample arrangement which might give you some inspiration on how to mix big and small!


Once you've decided on any of the above gallery wall styles, the below tips can be useful for actually implementing the designs in practise!

Lay it out on the floor beforehand to gauge what looks best where....

or you can use gallery wall stencils for inspo!

Go old school and create templates of the frames and stick them to the wall

Use non permanent hooks (Command Hooks for example) so you can move the hook if you change your mind....