An interior designer's guide to making your own art gallery at home


framed art on wall

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Think you can't turn your walls into an art gallery? Bringing the museum aesthetic into your home can be a bit challenging and intimidating, but it's not impossible. We asked Laurie Ann Kendrick, an interior designer based in Birmingham, Ala. — she works with her mother and you can see their stellar aesthetic at Holcombeinteriordesign.com — to point us in the right direction.


What's a good way to start designing the wall?

Pick one image or one painting. This can also be a pair. In my own home, my wall is centered with both of my girls’ framed birth certificates. This first piece is most important as it serves as the anchor. The best walls are achieved when the practical aesthetics are there, but also when the pieces have significance. I like to frame that piece in a statement frame but keep it subtle enough to allow other pieces to play off it.

From there, you can scale other pieces accordingly so that each piece complements the other without overshadowing. It’s important on a gallery wall not to show favorites.


Should you stay within the same color family, in terms of the picture frames and the subject matter in them? Is it OK to mix framed art/photos and canvases?

I think consistency is important in the color family of the frames themselves. Meaning, dark frames together, or all light frames, or metallic frames. Silver and gold classically go together. Also, I like to stay consistent with mattes. Base this off the trim color of the room.

But do not be afraid to mix art with personal photos and canvases. Remember that the gallery wall is a reflection of the homeowner. It keeps things interesting to mix up colors, but staying in a consistent palette for the frames and mattes will give the wall a flow and consistency that helps each piece complement the next. Let your centerpiece keep you on track, and try to balance your pops of color on both left to right and top to bottom on the centerpiece.


Do you recommend cutting out templates to mark where pieces will be hung? How do you work off other elements in the room, such as couches or the ceiling?

I think templates can be very helpful if you know ahead of time how many pieces you are going to hang. However, this is not necessary, especially if the wall is going to grow over time. If you are hoping to start your wall and add to it as you go, then hang a grouping that covers the center of the space going a couple of feet wide and a couple of feet high. Then when you add to it, just keep this general shape balanced. When you pick up pieces to add to the wall, wait to hang them in pairs, hanging on either side or top and bottom of your grouping to allow your wall to remain balanced.

You do not want your pieces to be blocked, so keep that in mind with the height and placement. I would start in the center of the wall (from left to right), and try to split the height between the sofa (or other piece) and crown, but keep about 2 feet off the height of your sofa, to allow room for end table lamps to not block your art. The best gallery walls are cozy, so as they grow you can hang them pretty close to the crown of the room and even lower toward the sofa as space is needed. This will both add to the drama of the wall and give the illusion of taller ceilings. But as a perimeter, I would not hang anything higher than the height of the drapery in the room.


Is there anything else we should keep in mind?

For pieces that are matted, keep the majority of the items framed within 6 inches of one another. This will require some pieces to have smaller mattes and some to have larger mattes. On the ones that have larger mattes, have some fun on those pieces, such as a double matte or a bottom-heavy matte, just to keep it interesting.