5 Tips for Creating the Perfectly Eclectic Gallery Wall

If you’re like me, the proposition of making a gallery wall is a little intimidating: the decisions, the nail holes, the potential mistakes.  The first time I made a gallery wall, I was sweating metaphorical bullets the whole time.  It was wildly uncomfortable.

The good news is that your house isn’t going to come crashing down if you put a nail hole where it doesn’t belong and no one’s going to revoke your decorator’s card if you put something in the gallery wall that is “wrong.”   I’m a deeply symmetrical person, but gallery walls have challenged that tendency. In fact, if your gallery wall is a little imperfect, all the better!

Here are three tips to create the imperfectly eclectic gallery wall:

1. Plan around an anchor piece.

If selecting pieces for your gallery wall is intimidating, start with an anchor piece.  The anchor piece should be a bigger piece that will help you decide the focus for the rest of the wall.  Choose a piece that makes you happy when you see it because you probably won’t be switching it out any time soon.  In this gallery wall, I actually had two anchor pieces: the mirror and the coral.  These are my two favorite “decor” pieces, so I didn’t want to relegate them to a rarely-used room.  They had to be in the living room!  Once those were placed, the smaller pieces fell into place much more easily.

Living Room Landscape

2. Make it personal

Most of the items in this gallery wall are really personal to us.  There is a wedding picture in the upper left hand corner and a family picture in the lower right hand corner.  The G stands for our last name, while the photos in the center of the collage actually spell out our last name.

Make it Personal

I found this sketch in an old suitcase filled with my dad’s college assignments.  Apparently, it’s a the elevation for a self-retracting reel for a duck decoy that my dad made in an industrial design class.  Is it weird that I have an illustration of hunting equipment in my living room?  Maybe, but it makes things unique!

Dad's drawing

PS – Doesn’t my dad have awesome penmanship?  Sigh.  Mine is not nearly as nice.

3. Think about proportions

If you follow this blog, you know I am not a math person.  Ugh.  I just read that and imagined how annoyed I would be if someone said, “I’m not an English person.”  I take it back!!! I can do math.  I will do math.  Math is my homeboy.

At any rate, one thing I loved learning about in school was the incredible logical patterns that exist in math and nature.  Fibonacci sequence?  Divine proportion?  I’m all over it!  In design, I think the “divine proportion” of wall-to-decor is about 2/3.  This means that the gallery wall should cover approximately 2/3 of your wall space.  It just seems to be the sweet spot visually; it doesn’t look too crowded or too sparse.

4. Mix up the shapes, types, and sizes of items

The more shapes and sizes you can involve in your gallery wall, the more visually appealing it will be because the eye will travel across the whole wall.  Notice how this gallery wall has photographs, illustrations, a mirror, and “found items” like the key and the G.

Gallery Wall on an Angle

The long, narrow shape of the GROEN framed photos balance out the tall, narrow shape of the barometer glass sconce (which, by the way, is available at my Etsy shop).


The round mirror brings a visual softness to the other side and it’s balanced out by the roundness of the G on the other side. Big items, like the mirror and the illustration of the coral are balanced with small items like the key and the wedding photo.  Overall, the look is peaceful and balanced.

Contrast the living room gallery wall to our bedroom gallery wall:

Bedroom Gallery Wall

Do you see how this gallery wall is a bit harsher because it has almost exclusively items with very square corners?  It just feels a bit less Zen.  This one is a bit of a work in progress, but that’s one of the great things about gallery walls: you can swap out items whenever it strikes your fancy.  (Yep, I just said “strikes your fancy.”  I’m officially half Jane Austen.)

5. Stick to a color scheme

In order to create a cohesive look, it’s a good idea to stick to a color scheme in your gallery wall.  Select a few colors you want to feature.  In the living room gallery wall, I stuck to neutrals and light wood tones, but in the bedroom gallery wall, I added (and will continue to add) a few pops of blue because my “anchor piece” (the graphic canvas) had light blue in it. The next light blue item I add to the wall will go in the upper right hand corner.  Why?  Symmetry.  Balance. Some habits die hard.

Are you ready to create your own yet?  Grab your hammer and get going!

Copyright Best Coast Living, 2015.  May not be reproduced without express permission of author.

Washi tape clip art by Teacher Karma.


2 thoughts on “5 Tips for Creating the Perfectly Eclectic Gallery Wall

  1. This gallery wall is beautiful! I am planning one for our bedroom once the walls are painted and one for the living room that I am horribly stuck on. Thanks for the inspiration!


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