Gallery Wall Rules To Follow & Break (plus a cheat sheet)
The ultimate guide to hanging the perfect gallery wall for your space, including which rules to follow, which to break, & a printable cheat sheet
Oh the gallery wall…
It is a touchy subject for many home design enthusiasts & usually people either love them or hate them.
I personally love them… when they are done right 😉
Obviously it’s your home so whatever you want to do is “right” but there are a few tips & tricks that will really make your gallery wall amazing!
Some rules like ideal hanging heights & how much space in-between photos are only rules because they are ascetically pleasing to the eye.
Other rules like color schemes & types of gallery walls is a little more art than science.
With so many different “ways” to hang a gallery wall out there I thought it might be helpful to go through the Do’s, Dont’s, & rules.
You can find the printable guide at the bottom!
Gallery Wall Rules to Follow:
1. Hanging Height
The ideal hanging height to start photos is 7-10″ off a piece of furniture ie: couch, console table, dresser. This helps create a good line of sight for your photos & artwork.
If you are hanging a gallery wall on an empty wall, try & keep the center of the gallery 57″ inches from the ground.
Tip: I like to use a long level to draw a light pencil line across the bottom point of my gallery wall, this makes it easier when it’s time to actually start hanging frames.
2. Distance Between Frames
The ideal distance between gallery wall is to 2-3″ apart.
This ensures one frame isn’t overcrowding another or so far apart you lose the “one piece of art” effect.
Tip: Use a scrap piece or wood or cardboard to set the distance easily in-between photos.
3. Keeping It All Level
This rule is one that can’t really be debated…
If your frames aren’t level that will be the only thing people notice.
Laser levels like this one make it really simple or you could use a small bubble level at the top of your frame.
Do’s & Don’ts
1. Do a Dry Run
This isn’t a rule it’s just helpful.
I like to always make a mockup of how the frames & prints will look before hanging them up.
If I haven’t already order the prints, I take a photo of the blank wall & screenshots of the print options.
Then I add the screenshot prints to the photo & arrange them in different ways to see what works best.
This is a super helpful method if you aren’t quite sure which prints you want to go with or what sizes you want.
If you already have your prints & frames picked out, lay them out on the floor & arrange them their first to get a feel for how the wall will look.
2. Don’t Limit Yourself
You don’t need to just have prints & photos.
You can & should mix different elements into your gallery wall.
I am NOT talking about 3D word art, y’all please no 3D word art 😅
In fact the only time I really think it’s okay to have word art print is in a child’s bedroom…
But back to what I am talking about, mix in greenery, shelving, mirrors, or other textured wall art.
This will give your gallery wall some dimension & add a little extra character to the wall.
3. Do Pick a General Theme
Obviously the theme can be loose, but in general it’s good to have at least an idea of a color scheme or pattern for your prints.
If you are doing a gallery wall of all black & white photos, great but don’t throw in one full color print.
Maybe you are going for super colorful prints, that’s super fun too but maybe pick a similar vibrancies.
Keep a them in mind for your frames too, either decide to keep all the frames the same color or really commit to non matching frames. If you are going to mix & match frames pick more than 2 colors to mix in.
A combo I really love is: wood frames, white frames, & unframed canvas.
4. Do Mix Sizes
Having a mix of large, small, & medium art is a great way to add character to your gallery wall.
For our wedding gallery shelf wall I only mixed to different sizes for the photos but the sky is the limit!
In our old house I did a gallery wall where all the frames where the same size in exact grid lines & honestly it felt sterile & cold. Not two words that I want a feature in my home to be described in.
You live & you learn though, now I known that mixing different sized artwork & prints adds character not chaos to a wall.
Another way to mix up sizing is to use frames that are shaped differently, like adding in a small oval frame or a circular mirror.
5. Don’t Overdue It
As a rule of thumb (whose thumb I don’t know) never hang more than one gallery wall per room.
More than one gallery wall may feel crowded & actually make the space seem smaller.
Another good point is to not overdue the wall you are working with.
Choose a wall large enough to support the pieces you are wanting to display.
6. Don’t Overthink It
I know that seems contradictory to everything you just read, but honestly this is your space, you spend the most time there so if it looks good to you, then it’s good!
The only “rules” that I follow strictly are leveling my frames & hanging heights because those are more about making sure your prints are seen & nothing is taking away from them.
Think of the other things as loose suggestions & get creative!
Remember at the end of the day everything can be moved around, taken down, (that’s why I like Command Strips 😉) & fixed to suit you.
This is your house after all, do what makes it feel like home to you!