If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. I cannot finish home projects, it’s as though I get 90% of the way there and then just come to a grinding halt. It’s always the finishing touches that seem to elude me. I can decide on new windows, new flooring – big, expensive items that are hard to change if you get it wrong but whether I want that candle holder or that candle holder is beyond reach.
This is a large reason behind why, despite our living room being painted back in October 2018, the walls have been completely bare ever since. I knew creating a gallery wall would be the key but found it too daunting and never knew where to start. As a result the room has felt just not quite comfortable despite all the other work we’ve done, not quite lived in and fully cosy. I knew I wanted things on the walls but I didn’t know what things and where to find them and how to frame things and it had to be meaningful and go with the décor and I’m not creative and it would look all wrong. Overthinking much?!
Turns out that I was capable and did have everything I needed, I simply needed a little catalyst to kick me off. When I was in New York on my last day I popped to a couple of flea/artisan markets in Williamsburg since they only run at weekends. At one of them I was drawn to Bodega Latin, a stall selling beautiful handmade silk screen printing set over the top of pocket New York maps. I knew instantly it would be ideal for the living room and when the creator told me they fit perfectly inside IKEA Ribba frames I was sold (this is always half the battle with me, finding art is one thing, framing it can take YEARS).
I settled on the Chrysler building, brought it home, framed it and then started having a rummage through all our belongings to see what else I could use to create a gallery wall behind the new sofa that I received from Snug Shack in December. I’ve been wanting to take so many photos of it but a blank wall behind, or even a wall with one or two pictures does it no justice whatsoever. As itt turns out, the art was there all along but was either being stored, hanging elsewhere or not framed. I laid pieces out arbitrarily on the floor in our spare room and started shuffling them around until I came up with a layout that looked good to me.
There are many schools of thought around creating a gallery wall including templates, ways of doing them, rules. For some, it has to be completely uniform or frames all one colour or a theme to it. But I say the beauty of creating a gallery wall is that you can really get away with doing you. I decided that I didn’t want all white or all black frames because it would have been a little too overbearing for our green walls and went instead with a mixture of white, black and wood effect frames. In terms of sourcing frames at a reasonable cost, I can recommend IKEA, Wilkos, Hobbycraft and Tiger.
When it came to putting them up again, I didn’t use a spirit level or tape or use paper templates beforehand. Don’t let all the “rules” put you off having a go. Spirit levels on old walls are never more straight than your own eye anyway. I’ve used a mixture of Command strips, little nails knocked straight into the wall, and then proper picture hanging kits for the larger frames where I’ve screwed hooks into the back of them and wound picture wire around it to create a tension to then hang from.
What I love more than anything though is that all of these pictures tell a story and by using them to create a gallery wall I’m displaying our memories. The oldest one in the collection is from 2006 when Pete and I took a trip to Amsterdam before we were even married. It’s a limited edition and for way too long has been hanging behind our kitchen door which means we never see it. There’s a completely unique piece of artwork in mixed media of Dartmoor done by my aunt who lives there and is an artist. A memento from a wedding we went to in Budapest. Some Indonesian batik flowers that my Mum and Stepdad brought back from a holiday and I reframed. Our favourite places in London by local artists. Little cards that Pete has bought me over the years.
So after collecting for 14 years (!) in the end it took me no more than a couple of hours to plan and assemble. Funnily enough, not one of those occasions where I wished I’d done it sooner because it was always going to be something that had to come together at just the right time once I had a bit of headspace to think about it. Now I’m comfortable with creating a gallery wall I want to do more but I have a feeling it’s going to be a while before the next one if I’m going to be so particular about collecting more memories…
In the meantime, here are some of my favourites on Instagram that I used for stylish inspiration.
I hope this has been a useful post and may encourage you to have a go at creating your own gallery wall if it’s something you’ve been putting off. Just remember, do what you love, that’s all that matters.