My Best Tips and Tricks for Personal and Inexpensive Gallery Art Walls

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I like all kinds of gallery walls, but I'm a symmetry lover so ones that use a series of art or prints (rather than random groupings) and symmetrical layouts are are the most appealling to me. I have made many of them, but the very best one I ever did was a layout of the back covers of Cook's Illustrated Magazine framed in black with beige mats. I so wish I had a photo, but I never thought to take one so many years ago.

Here is what the back covers of the magazine look like - awesome for a kitchen:

This is by Holly Mathis (here) but it seriously looks exactly the same that mine did:

But really what I wanted to show you is how you can do this yourself for very little money.  

1. Google images has some free things that you can print or screenshot and print in any size at Snapfish or wherever. This works for old maps or really anything that isn't subject to copyright (I'm not an expert so please check for yourself).

2. Even easier, buy a series of prints and get frames at Michaels, AC Moore, or even Target or Walmart. Just make sure the prints you buy are about the same size as the standard frames (custom framing is really expensive). So, you want 8x10 frames with 5x7 mats, and an image that's either 5x7 or very close to it. 

Here are some Etsy ones I like - this post is about using your imagination and things that are special or meaningful to you, but here are some ideas to get you started. You can click these if you want to see more:

Or this store, which is the best I've found on Etsy for framable art series in virtually any color:


3. I would encourage everyone to think outside the box - really you can frame anything!  In our old house, my husband and I made a gallery wall of of things we had collected, like maps from where we have lived and menus from restaurants we love. I especially love the menus - this is more or less how it looks (I'm just pulling these from Google randomly because of course I don't have a photo of mine!) I always just asked to take a menu home and the restaurants were always accommodating. Can you imagine them all matted and framed the same?

Or how about wine labels from special occasions? There are so many ways to do this, but my personal favorite is individually framed in very thin frames:

Another idea - greeting cards from a series, like these:

Or these for a child's room:

Or these pre-made sets of prints:

See these here
See these here
Or pages from a calendar. Here are a couple from Amazon with photos of Paris. If you buy a calendar at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you don't have to worry about copyright either, and I'm sure you're allowed to frame the images from it, since you bought it:

Or from an illustrated children's book, or art books, or even fashion books. The good thing about books is that you can get a series that look good together for $10 or so. These are famous ones - you probably know them:

For adults, it is obviously harder because book don't tend to have images. So here, look for coffee table books. I always ask clients if they have particular hobbies like golf, travel, one city they love, music, etc. So say you are really into playing the piano. Wouldn't the pages from a beautiful calendar on pianos be awesome? And there are calendars or coffee table books about everything, so it usually works out. Or if you are a doctor, pages from an old anatomy book. You get the idea!

I'm partial to Picasso and Matisse sketches, and I known I have seen a book on this, but I couldn't find it online. I think if you looked in the art section at the bookstores you'd see things you like:

This was my all time favorite book that I used to read to Bobby ("Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak).  I still can recite most of it without even looking at the illustrations.  I so wish I had thought to put these in his room at the time!

Or prints from any artist you like. This is one I like on Etsy (here):  

Here are some favorite examples. Many of these are using architectural drawings or prints (I think), but a few look like they are using art prints or even pages from books:

Nate Berkus, using architectural art

Design Chic, artist here

I hope you are inspired to create something unique and personal!

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The enchanted home said...

Amazing post!! I love your ideas and Where the Wild Things are is one of my all time faves too! I do love a gallery wall and one has been on my growing list of to do's for a while now (old family pictures). I love the idea of framing the menus, what a fun way to look back on special memories. Happy Valentines Day to you from ultra frigid NY!

Karena Albert said...

Lots of great artful ideas!I have had Botanical Prints from a calendar custom framed and they look great! Finding original works of art is always a fun adventure as well. Happy Valentines Day Stacy!

The Arts by Karena

Rynn Hennings said...

I really like your framing ideas - the menus are so clever! I love your blog - all the photos of great rooms, your own home decorating, the online sources for products, and the "how-to" like today's post. It's such a treat to open my email and find your latest post!

leslie said...

Wonderful post and so creative!! I always thought I would do the menus as an art wall with all of our favs! On the list! xo Leslie Sinclair