How to Create a Gallery Wall

Posted by on March 19, 2012

Sher lobby 3

One of the places I find inspiration for my home decorating projects is a hotel or other public place that has been designed by a pro.  This weekend I attended a conference at the Sheraton Gateway in Los Angeles.

The lobby is a striking blend of black, white and gray with pops of red and modern chrome chandeliers. But my biggest takeaway from this lobby is the wall behind the check in desk where two long picture rails hold a variety of photos, drawings and prints. How versatile is that? The images are all different but it works. The frames are all different but they coordinate.

Here’s what makes this display work for me, and how to translate it for your home.

Quantity. There are a lot of images here which makes the display interesting without being distracting. Take it home: choose a longwall and use plenty of pictures! Find picture ledges that can be butted up against each other to create one long ledge (West Elm and Crate and Barrel both have a couple of styles that could work) or have a handyman install a custom ledge.

The left end ...

The left end …

Relative uniformity of size and shape. Notice that it’s not a jumble of large and small but most of the images are roughly the same size. To keep it interesting there are still some landscape and portrait orientations.

A strong background. The back wall is a solid dark color to make the art pop. Take it home: paint your wall or a large rectangle behind your ledges to make the wall even more of a feature in the room.

Harmonious color story. Most of the images are black and white with a few colorful images mixed in for interest. But even the color images are a limited mix of blues and reds to coordinate with the overall design of the space. Take it home: pick your palette carefully; convert color images to black and white and courageously mix family photos with pop art prints, maps and commercial photos.

Simple framing. Although the frames vary in style – some are plain, modern profiles and others are slightly ornate – again the palette is simple. Most are black, a few are cream, and washes of silver and a few touches of gold keep the look from being a jumbled mess. Also note the frequent use of wide white mats or images with a white background. Take it home: look at the frames you already have, and perhaps some you aren’t using right now. If they vary too widely in color, consider re-purposing them with a good spray paint to achieve a more coordinated look.

... the right end (in all, it's about 30 feet long!)

… the right end (in all, it’s about 30 feet long!)

This is a great solution for creating a family gallery, collecting years of vacation photos, or simply displaying a variety of images that you love and find inspiring.  For the holidays or special occasions, change out a few of the images to keep the look fresh and new.