How To Create A Balanced Gallery Wall

How To Create A Balanced Gallery Wall

Balanced Gallery Wall

One of the biggest changes in our recent dining room redo was the new gallery wall.  Today, I’m going to talk about how we went from the one central picture to this full-wall gallery, step-by-step.  Creating a gallery wall isn’t an exact science and takes a lot of trial and error, but hopefully talking you through my process in building this one will help you create your own!

First, let’s take a look at the before. We started with just the black and white Buffalo print.


I love this print so much and wasn’t willing to get rid of it.  You can read the tutorial for how we blew it up and backmounted onto acrylic here.

Art Backmounted onto Acrylic

It is so me and I love the large statement it makes.  But these buffaloes needed some friends.  The large white wall just wasn’t cutting it.

When we started redoing the dining room, I thought I would need more on this wall, but I finished all other elements first to be sure.  The last thing I wanted was to overwhelm this tiny little dining nook.

Fall Dining Room

But even with the new curtains, rug, and table, the buffaloes still looked lonely.  That’s what I love about white walls.  You can pile so much on top of them and it just makes it better.  We all know I’m not a minimalist and this dining redo is proof!

So, here was my plan to create a balanced gallery wall around our buffalo friends.

Anatomy of a Balanced Gallery Wall

I know.  That’s complicated and some contradict.  Let’s break it down.

To me, the first key of a great gallery wall is establishing the overhaul feel you want it to have.  I love for gallery walls to feel collected.

For me, that means many of the words above come into play.  I’m looking for vintage and new items.  I’m looking for a mix of styles, a mix of different materials/mediums, and it’s going to be a bit asymmetrical.  While the look of clean, grid-like gallery walls can be perfect for some spaces, that wasn’t what I had in mind here.

So, here’s how I tackled our BALANCED, COLLECTED GALLERY WALL.


I always suggest looking to what’s already in the room to choose your color palette.  Not that it needs to match.  Sometimes, a pop of color in a gallery wall that isn’t seen anywhere else in the room can be fabulous.

But, we already had so much going on in this room and I think sticking with a calm color palette that’s already established in the space works well.

We already had the Buffalo, so that started us out with black & white.  In most rooms, I like using neutrals as a base in gallery walls.  When you’re hanging a lot of pictures, it can get overwhelming if everything is color-filled.

So, black & white is our base for most of the items in our gallery wall.

For our pops of color, I looked first to my favorite item in the room: the new curtains.


In these floral curtains, we have a black background (supports our already chosen base of black & white), red flowers, and there are tiny hints of blue.

I played up the blue in the curtains by keeping our DIY Paint-dipped Chandelier blue (see how we made it here).  I had considered painting it, but after hanging the curtains, it worked great!

color scheme

So, if you look at the overall gallery wall, you’re going to see traces of all of those colors.

Black & white is seen in the buffalo print, the road sign, and several pictures.

Blue is seen in the two vintage paintings and the tiny key in the bottom right-hand corner.



And I brought in a tiny punch of red by flipping our antique washboard around backwards to reveal the red lettering.


Now, we have our established color palette and of course, you can see above which items I chose, but let me break down those choices a bit for you.

So, above I said that for a collected gallery wall, I’m looking for VINTAGE and NEW.

The gold mirrored sconces on either side of the Buffalo print were my great-aunts and are really old.


But then as you can see above, I brought in some modern, abstract art right underneath to balance it out.

Here, you can see I used a vintage painting, the vintage gold sconce, and a vintage-inspired road sign, but mixed in between are again, the abstract art, and a modern cityscape of our town.

How to Create a Gallery Wall

{I was desperate for a straight-on shot.  This room is tiny and really makes that difficult, so excuse my lovely selfie in the mirror}

On the other side, we have another vintage painting, the vintage mirror, and our antique washboard, but the tiny map and key print is new.


For a collected gallery wall, you just want to make sure that not every item is a black & white photograph and not every item is a painting.

Don’t get me wrong, I love huge family gallery walls with all black & white photos, but that wasn’t what we were going for here.

So, make sure that you have different mediums represented.  We have black & white photography, modern abstract art, vintage paintings, gold mirrored sconces, antlers, and wood in the washboard.


I think we’ve got a good mix of elements.  Even though we had antlers in the Buffalo photograph, I liked the idea of bringing in another set right on top.  Yes, it’s double the antlers, but the different materials make it work.

Rustic Gallery Wall


Now comes the semi-tough part: figuring out how to hang your collected gallery wall.  One good thing is that you can’t really mess up.  If you’re creating a grid gallery wall, it has to be exact or you will definitely notice.

With a collected gallery wall, you have a lot more freedom, but you still want it to look balanced.

The first step to achieving this is to start with a large central point to work off of.  We had that covered the Buffalo.  I don’t think this piece has to be centered.  It could be slightly to the left or right, but ours was obviously centered in the room since it was here by itself for awhile. 

Once, you have the central point, work off of it.


I used two contradicting elements above in my guide: SYMMETRY & ASSYMETRY.

Here’s what I meant by that.  You do want some symmetry in a gallery wall.  Some consistent elements that balance the eye.

I chose to hang the two sconces evenly on either side of our central point, creating a symmetrical, pleasing look.  Another way to bring in symmetry is through how you place your colored items.

I hung a blue vintage painting on either side of the gallery wall, sort of book-ending it with blue.  They are hung at different heights (bringing in some asymmetry), so they aren’t perfectly even, but having blue on both ends and then scattered once in the middle is a good idea verses corralling all colored items in one area.  Spread it out!


In hanging the items, I don’t want everything to look like it fits in one big rectangle.  I want to look more haphazard, like I hung the items as I found them over a period of time.  So, I chose to use a mix of horizontal and vertical frames so that we have elements going in different directions and at different heights.  You’ll notice that the feather print above is the highest point, but it isn’t centered.  It’s slightly to the right.  To me, that was more pleasing and collected than centered directly over our center point.

Since my main picture was centered, I did try to ensure that each side felt “even,” though there were different sizes and shapes on each side.  Each side has four elements going in diffent directions, so when you look at the whole picture, hopefully we see a balanced gallery wall instead of it being lop-sided.

Originally posted by

Marilyn Cortez Headshot
Phone: 956-587-1633
Dated: February 17th 2015
Views: 567
About Marilyn: Always ahead of the highly competitive RGV real estate market, Marilyn Cortez is a Spanish speaking ...

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