Why I Love A Gallery Wall & How To Create One On A Budget
If you follow my feed on Instagram, you will know that I'm a huge fan of the eclectic gallery wall. This love of wall art goes back many years to when I was a teenager in the 1980's and I used to cover my walls in pictures of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. God, how I loved James Dean! Every Saturday was spent on Carnaby Street in the poster shop flipping through the plastic display sheets looking for the perfect sultry print. This was the time when The Outsiders was THE film to watch and the whole bad boy, leather jacket, working on your motorbike thing was super cool. 'Stay gold, Pony Boy' still makes me want to sob hysterically.
Cult films were generally pretty cool in those days - I remember going to house parties with Animal House and Porky's playing silently in the background whilst we listened to Alison Moyet, drank Lambrusco, smoked Silk Cut, snogged boys in leather jackets and cried a lot. Crying was a popular activity at house parties when I was 15. As was wearing fuchsia pink v backed jumper dresses with huge belts and backcombing your Sun In bleached hair to oblivion whilst putting on so much electric blue Rimmel mascara that you could barely lift your eyelashes. And if you weren't wearing Twilight Teaser on your lips, you sure as hell weren't down with the cool kids.
Anyway, enough of the totally irrelevant reminiscing. Gallery walls are, for me, the perfect addition to a room. They demonstrate the personality of the home owner in more ways than any other, I think. They're a wonderful way of bringing together different memories in a structured way. Abigail Ahern says that rooms should always have more than one focal point and I'm completely in agreement. When you walk into a room, your eye should be spoilt for choice as to where to look first. Gallery walls are a great way to create that focal point and to add interest and colour. Whether you are a fan of dark interiors or light, a curated print collection can make your walls pop.
If you are styling your home on a budget and want make an impact, a gallery wall is a good option. Here's my handy tips on how to create a wall of your very own.
Anything Goes. Seriously. Anything.
It doesn't matter what you put up. Whether you hang a plate, a photograph, a typography print or an oil painting, grouped cohesively it works brilliantly. In the past, I've framed old menus (I had Rick Stein Seafood Restaurant menu from when I was pregnant with Ella up on the wall for years), concert tickets (before everything was digital, sob) and school memorabilia.
Think outside the proverbial box. Wall hangings, stag heads (not that I'm trend driven or anything like that), guitars, printers trays, flying dolphins and wooden goat heads from Greece have all adorned my wall previously and, in fact, still do. Be brave. If you like it, hang it.
Mix It Up, Baby
Some prints look better in a group than they do singularly. Look around your home to find all the bits and pieces that you've never quite found the right wall space for and bring them together.
Juxtaposition is key - putting black and white music photography alongside a floral Old Masters is super effective. Mix word art, contemporary prints, old classics and throw in a bit of something unexpected, something you wouldn't expect to see. Combined, you can create a serious statement wall.
To Theme Or Not To Theme, That Is The Question
My daughter is about to create a wall for her bedroom using purely pink IKEA frames which you can pick up for about £3 each. In my dining room, I've grouped art deco vintage mirrors on one wall - separately, they would look a bit boring. Together they create a focal point.
You can be as random as you want with a gallery wall. Whether you want the frames to match or you don't, whether you want to make the wall symmetrical or you want to just chuck it all on, do as you like. It's your wall, your prints. There's no rules.
Be There Or Be Square
When I created my dining room gallery wall, I used a 230 x 160 rug to work out what was going to go where. I started in the top left hand corner and then worked my way around, laying out in order the pile of framed prints that I wanted to hang. It took a while but eventually it all came together and I hung them all one by one in order. I was ridiculously happy with the result.
You don't have to make it contained, but laying it all out beforehand so you have a plan is a really good way of doing so. It's great if you have lots of small prints that it's hard to find the right space for and you want to structure your look.
Raid The Charity Shops
Every gallery wall is unique to its creator and you can't beat a charity shop for inspiration. This year I collected plates ranging from 50p to £2 and whacked them up on the wall above the fireplace randomly and it looked fab. My gallery walls are filled with vintage floral prints, none of which have cost over £5. Often they come in fabulous frames which are much nicer than the prints inside so it's always good to have a rummage.
I love vintage art - J H Lynch, Bruegel, Tretchikoff - and have managed to pick all of these up second hand at bargain prices. Charity shops are also great for picking up vintage plates and other bits and pieces that you can add to your wall display.
Be Your Own Artist
Who says you can't be creative? Everyone has a streak of artistic talent inside, so try it yourself. I did a blog post last year where I took a cheap canvas and spray painted it using stencils. It wasn't amazing, but I liked it and it looked great on my wall. I've used word art to create prints on my computer and when juju hats were flying off the shelves, I made my own using cardboard, a glue gun and feathers from eBay for a fraction of the price.
Wall hangings? I laughed in the face of shop bought ones after making my own using a bough from the local woods and wool from John Lewis. You never know if you can do it until you try. Andy Warhol said, 'Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art'.
Frame It Up
Framing doesn't have to be expensive. Both The Range and IKEA have good value poster sized frames for around £13. Made to measure frames don't need to be pricey either - I've used a company called Frames.co.uk who built a made to measure frame for me for the large SILENCE IS GOLDEN print by Bianca Hall for under £30.
There's lots of online framing companies who do tailored services - always check the discount voucher websites to see if they have a promotion going, they often do. Or why use a frame at all? Use washi tape, bulldog clips or picture hangers to make your art stand out.
You can also pick up square record frames super cheap that are perfect for displaying your favourite vinyl. I miss those days of buying LP's and the artwork was always one of the best bits of owning a new album - frame up your favourites.
I have had many a shocking experience hanging pictures. I've asked Joe to do it with a drill which is rarely successful (check out my Revamp Restyle Reveal television on a jaunty angle). I've used the small brass hanging nails which are always successful unless you hit a cement wall. This generally means that I waste about ten nails in a row as they all bend, I swear a lot and Joe has to get his drill out (check my kitchen wall which looks like it's been hit by a sniper). I've recently discovered the wonder of Command Strips (a product for which I should really be paid a commission) and they are BRILLIANT. Until you ignore the weight restrictions and use them on heavy glass framed prints as I did with Brigitte Bardot in my dining room gallery and woke the next morning to find a hole gouged out of the sideboard.
Platewise, I use the yellow adhesive disc picture hangers which you can pick up on eBay - I've tried the hook around versions but I don't think they look nearly as clean lined. Just don't try and hang them with Command Strips as I did. It was all fun and games until they started falling off the wall as they had no surface to grip to.
Prop It Up
If you don't want to ruin your walls as I did by knocking nails in indiscriminately and then having to refill, why don't you try picture ledges? IKEA have this market covered and they are super reasonable - around £8 for a metre and £4 for the smaller one.
I have them everywhere and what's so fab about them is that it enables you to change your artwork whenever you like. And you can put ANYTHING on them. Mix up prints with plants and accessories. There's a weight limit but they are pretty sturdy. Suffice to say that in my home bar, I store gin on them. Enough said.
I recently read that gallery walls were on the way out in favour of statement art. I love a piece of statement art - I have a couple in my home and would love to own more - but the reality is that it tends to be an expensive investment and not particularly budget friendly. So gallery walls are the perfect way to update your home without spending lots of money. And the best thing about them is that they are unique, no two gallery walls are the same, which makes your home as individual as you are. So buck the trend. Go gallery and go big.