Redecorating the Living Room – Part 4: Gallery Wall of Artwork

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 here

Now that the hard work of repainting is finished, I can start the fun project of re-arranging my artwork into a dynamic gallery wall. I love those collections of beloved artwork that combines photos, paintings, prints and other objects for a unique collection.

I currently have a collection of eight similarly themed prints by local Boise artist, Ward Hooper, all matted and framed the same size. I love these prints that feature unique aspects of Boise life in a gorgeous vintage style. I currently have these in groups of 1-3 all along the same horizontal plane. However, I also have other unique pieces and items that I want to incorporate on my walls as well. I know that my challenge will be to use many of the same sized pieces but separating them, so they don’t appear to all be so matchy-matchy.

As usual, I spent a lot of time looking online at catalogs and websites to find inspiration for my arrangement.  Here are the inspiration photos from Pinterest to show what I am trying to achieve:

I love how random this arrangement appears, but it is actually symmetrical.

I like this arrangement, but I think I like the lamp better than the frames.

Elegant writing desk with gold-colored bamboo frames


Lovely blue background

I love the eclectic mix of objects…some aren’t even framed

West Elm has several lovely gallery wall arrangements. This one is unified with similar colors in the matting and the artwork.

I like how they balanced the corner column with the artwork.

This one continues on to the tabletop for a casual arrangement.

I started out by laying out all of the artwork on the floor. I even included items from other places in the house to see if I could create new combinations. I even dug out some vintage framed paint-by-numbers to see if they should be included as well. For the first arrangement next to the mantle, behind the Eames-styled chair, I selected pictures that all had the color red in them.

I started with a framed ad from a magazine advertising the Esther Williams film, The Duchess of Idaho (silly movie, but better than Sun Valley Serenade which is also set in Sun Valley, Idaho and features a figure skater, Sonia Henie, rather than swimmer, Esther Williams); my favorite Ward Hooper, Cottage on the Bench (the Bench is the part of Boise where my little cottage is located); a print of The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano; a collage of vintage and vintage-looking Boise postcards; and a simple collage of the front and back of the CarrieTown postcard along with papers torn from a paper-sample catalog (the frame fit the space, so I created the collage in five minutes to fit the space). I laid them out on the floor to determine the placement of the frames.

I did as Martha Stewart instructed, and measured the frames, and then cut out those sizes in butcher paper. I carefully measured the distances between the photos, and then emulated these measurements onto the wall, taping the appropriate piece of paper to the wall to gauge placement. Once I was happy with the placement, I then measured where the hanger should be, and nailed in a picture hanger into the wall.

Once the picture hangers were up, I then hung the artwork in the proper place. Here is the final result:

Precise yes, but that took WAY too long. For the wall closest to the bookshelf, I took a more organic free-form approach. I started with the largest piece, a painting of daisys my Grandma painted in the 1980’s. I then selected other pieces that had similar colors or elements. I also wanted to use a framed map of the old mining community of CarrieTown, Idaho because, hey, it’s CarrieTown, an I’m CarrieTown. I then selected the Warm Springs print and the Les Bois print for the green colors and to bring in the reoccurring element of the flowers. I added another green with the Boise River print. And for fun, a small gate to echo the fence in Grandma’s painting. For the final element, I added a vintage Idaho souvenier plate and clipped a postcard of the Boise River to the gate to tie it all together.

To create the arrangement, I started with the painting, and hung it a little higher than usual, to leave room for items below. I then just held frames up and then guessed at the picture hanger placement. I warned you that it was a more organic process. Once I was finished with the wall, I hung the Les Bois print on the opposite wall to connect the arrangement with the bookshelf arrangement. Since there are white flowers in a vintage vase on the bookshelf, it too connects the theme.

Here is the final result:

I am so happy with this arrangement. I love how casual it seems, but yet every item is connected in simple ways. I like the other arrangement, but I am most pleased with the way this wall turned out.

I still have two more walls to go, but I need to gather more items together to create them. I think I need to incorporate more photos, and more varying sizes. I also want more unique elements, like the small gate and the souvenir plate.

For my next project, arranging the bookshelf and giving my knick-knacks a trash-to-treasure makeover.