Decorating Tips

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

November 14, 2014

Last we, I gave you a little decorating 101 with 8 Easy Steps For Planning A Gallery Style Art Wall, part of a series of three posts that I’m working on in collaboration with Minted to inspire all of you to be fearless with art and support independent artists through the purchasing of affordable prints – something I’ve been promoting on this blog for eons. This is part two and it’s all about choosing art for a gallery style arrangement.

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

Decide on a theme – pick art that works together.

What do you want to say? Think of  a vibe, a mood, a style, a theme… For instance, you want this wall to showcase your love of travel. Or maybe it’s to display your son’s grade school art mixed in with modern art. Perhaps it’s black and white photography you’ve been collecting. Your love of abstract shapes and vibrant color. Whatever it is, try to find something, a red thread, that goes through each piece connecting them in some way. Even if only YOU see the connection, that’s okay, but there needs to be some meaning to you on an emotional level because that is why we display things on our wall in the first place right? Because we’ve emotionally made some connection to it – we like it – whether that be the color, mood, subject matter, whatever… It evokes emotion and that’s good. And in addition to emotion, the work as a whole should connect somehow. Like sure, you could display WWII photography alongside your daughter’s finger-paints, a standard issue Le Chat poster from your Paris vacay, a snapshot of your poodle, a Monet reproduction and nudes of gorgeous men all together on a dining room wall. I mean, it’s your home, your decision (no judgement!).


Does this stuff really work in context, you know? Does it make some sense or tell a story or is everything its own focal point and together, the story becomes terribly muddy or chaotic even (and not in a good way)? Work that doesn’t fit together shouldn’t be displayed together.

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

Mix and match.

Art prints, paintings, kids’ artwork, Polaroids, photographs, drawings, sketches, personal photos of a family trip. Mix it up and include what fits the story behind this wall of art your are creating. You can even frame precious mementos and include dimensional objects too – like a ceramic tile, a porcelain head, an old mirror.

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

Decide on frames and mattes.

I’m not that bold with mixing frame styles, but perhaps you are. I like to stick to a few colors (white and natural wood) then through in a few color frames or black or something with a clean slim gold frame, for instance. Also decide on mattes. I think all mattes should be the same color on gallery style walls but then you’ll sometimes see a wall that breaks every design rule and it works beautifully. If you have that knack, by all means mix and match. I honestly don’t have that knack of mixing matte colors and frame styles and colors with amazing results. So I have a formula I work with and that usually is the one I work with successfully time and time again.

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

Lose the obsession with frame size.

If it fits on your wall, it can fit the arrangement. Salon style, or gallery style, is generally a really loose casual arrangement of art that grows over time. It begins with some work and spreads over time. That’s the beauty of it. If you are obsessed with frames all being the same size and installed in a grid, you’re not really a gallery style wall person so steer away from this and try the grid arrangements because they’ll ultimately fit your style and make you happier.

How To Choose Art For a Gallery Style Wall

Over the weekend I plan to install my art sponsored by Minted, all work that I selected, along with some original paintings I’ve collected over the years and add a few special bits here and there unframed. Then next week, for the third installment from this series, I’ll show you the big reveal on how it all looks on my wall with a shopping list for everything.

A big thanks to Minted for sponsoring my salon style art wall project – I love all of the work that I was able to choose from your shop! Thank you again.

(images: holly becker for decor8)


  • Reply Amber Rhodes November 14, 2014 at 1:46 am

    I’d love to be able to do this with my paintings. I need to get some smaller ones I think! Luckily my dad is a picture framer!!

  • Reply Angie B November 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Thank you for sharing how fun and easy choosing art and styling a gallery wall can be! As a print designer, it’s something I wish I could share with all my customers and clients! Looking forward to the big reveal! X

  • Reply Laura Dunn November 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    What a fun project! I love gallery walls! I had my husband help install ours because I knew I needed someone else to stand back and make sure everything was lined up. This is not an easy one person job!

  • Reply Beth November 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Awesome, Holly! Just wait until your little boy starts to create art….kid’s art is the best!

  • Reply Amanda | The Cool York November 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Love all of these tips (especially as we’re decorating our new apartment)!!
    Amanda | The Cool York

  • Reply Polly November 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Can’t wait to see it Holly! Great guide.

  • Reply Polly November 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Can’t wait to see it Holly! Great guide.

  • Reply Maja November 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Very nice! I love framing random art or objects and hanging them up as wall art too :)
    xx Maja

  • Reply Renee Shea December 29, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Gorgeous! I love all of the colours and simplicity. I was wondering – do you have any tips for decorating with portraits? I am a photographer and I am always trying to explain to clients how and where to hang portraits and I would love your thoughts.

  • Reply Katie Taylor August 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Fantastic article, this has given me some great ideas for decorating a few of the bare walls that I haven’t done anything with yet. I really love the idea of mixing and matching the different types of art and using it to tell a story. I’ll be doing this straight away! :)

  • Reply Maggie July 27, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    I really like your point on not being too worried about having a unified wall frame size. There are some times when I want to pick up a painting I find, but then get worried since the frame may be too thin or wide compared to my other pieces. Instead, I’ll just focus more on the theme I want!

  • Reply Karin August 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Could you assist me by letting me know why people use the “&” sign in their wall galleries?

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