Over the fiveish years Ive worked in digital media, Ive written probablyoh, 20 (or more) articles about gallery walls. Layout ideas, art ideas, color palette ideas, lather, rinse, repeat. Readers love gallery walls, Google loves gallery walls, WE ALL LOVE GALLERY WALLS. But, being someone whose fingers could churn out a post on the subject probably on muscle memory alone, my brain kicked in and thought wait, but whats NEXT. Not next in terms of other ideas for filling a wall, but whats next for the gallery wall itself. What is gallery wall 2.0?In its first internet-wide iteration, it felt like most art walls I was seeing felt like they came together in a weekend (start to finish, purchase to hang). I myself hung a gallery wall over my sofa in my first apartment after one trip to Home Goods and Michaels to DIY some canvas pieces with my initials on them. But the most striking gallery walls, Im finding, are more than just art. I hesitate to say meaningless, but heres the thing: the best gallery walls might have all been hung at once, but took a while to come together behind the scenes. Mementos, random collections, meaningful photography, curated art prints, that stuff takes time to trickle into your life, which to me, makes it worth displaying, right?
And Im not just saying this because my own gallery wall (keep reading for that) has more than just art prints. I took stock of what some of the EHD team has done themselves over the last year and I realized, waittheres a lot of heart behind most of these walls. So, heres my cry for you: if you have small little Polaroids, photo strips, kids drawings, movie tickets, postcards and the like sitting around in a drawer and youre staring at a big blank wall you dont know what to do with, read on because youre about to get inspired.
For a wall in the family room of the mountain house, Emily really leaned into her familys personal mementos to fill the space above that credenza. She used a piece of real art (ha, anything is art if you want it to be!) to anchor the wall, and then wrapped other sentimental items around it. From Emily: All the pieces in this room are personal to our family. Im obsessed with this wall and its a total conversation piece. Everyone stops and stares and comments. Its just so special to our family. I included our wedding vow cards, the kids ultrasounds, artwork by them, a special piece from Danielle Krysa with a collage of Brian and I incorporated into it, photo strips, Polaroids and the kids self-portraits from pre-school. Its full of life and color and makes me SO HAPPY. Its my favorite gallery wall Ive ever installed and I dont plan on changing it for the rest of our life here.
For the Atlanta showhouse, the team (Emily, Emily Bowser and Julie Rose) had to materialize a story to create the gallery wall in the living room because this wasnt a room for a real family. So while this installation doesnt have any real history to it for the non-existent resident, they pretended like it didand there are some takeaways.
Bowser scoured Etsy for pieces like postcards, records, matchbooks and more that were specific to Atlanta and told a sort of history of the city, but for real, dont we all have a lot of this kind of stuff ourselves, stashed away in some book, drawer, cabinet? Note how they displayed the postcards all together in one frame but the matchbooks in small individual frames. Play around with scale, too, as in, just because something is small doesnt mean it has to go in a small frame. Those four ticket stubs from the first concerts you went to with your husband can be centered in a grid formation in a VERY large frame with tons of white space.
Oh, and dont be afraid to mix-and-match art prints/paintings/fine art photography with your mementos either. The framed painting here really anchors this wall so its not just a bunch of small little frames scattered throughout.
For the feature wall in my dining room, I knew I needed to do something with all the random art I had stacked on the floor of the guest bedroom but I didnt want it to just feel likewell, I went to town with a hammer and nail with all the random art I had stacked on the floor of my guest bedroom, ya know? So I printed out some photos that my husband and I had taken of each other at various points of our relationship, used some binder clips to hang word art I bought many moons ago that inspired me, and displayed all the compliments (those little papers in that white frame at the bottom) my lovely, thoughtful coworkers had given to me on my last birthday. With all that, I was able to build out a wall that was filled both with just pretty things I enjoyed to look at, but also things that sparked memories and feelings when my eye landed on them (I walk by this wall dozens of times a day as to the left is the doorway to the hall that leads to my bedrooms and bathroom).
Okay, so neither Saras old living room or mine technically has a gallery wall, but what they do have IS another fun way to think about displaying those small (flat) life souvenirs: get yourself a LARGE frame and put them all together. I think a clean grid is a way to elevate the look so it doesnt end up looking like a scrapbook page you just tacked up on the wall but also, you do you.
So what do you think? Does the more personal angel have you convinced? Or are you already on the bandwagon and have some ideas of your own to share of mementos youve successfully used as art? Ill be in the comments waiting to chat with you all about this!
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