How I Created My Colourful Gallery Wall

One decor tip I learned is having stark white walls could make a space feels "unfinished". The thing is, the rooms in our first house all were painted a different colour, which worked out beautifully (if I may say so) so Shah and I wanted to experiment with white walls all around for this second house.

After the all-white painting job — except the rooms upstairs, which we painted in different colours still — and moving our big furniture into place, those decor experts were (of course) proven right; I felt this odd need to keep on embellishing, especially the white spaces in the entryway.
And what's more perfect for a bare white wall in an entryway than a gallery wall?

I didn't hang a single wall art back at my first house even though I lived there for almost a decade (don't judge), so this was me really starting from scratch! I needed all the assistance I could get and thankfully there are many online resources for that.

Here is how I created my colourful gallery wall:

Search for inspirations, guides, and tips

Google and Pinterest were my best friends! I also browsed through decor blogs and decor accounts on Instagram. Scrolling through the many photos of gallery walls helped narrow down the kind of gallery arrangement I'm drawn to. 

Some questions I asked myself: Do I like the frames to be arranged symmetrically or asymmetrically? Do I want many small frames grouped together or do I prefer only a few big ones on that one wall? Am I into a monochromatic gallery wall or a collection bursting with colours? (The last question was a no-brainer for me.)

Note wall measurements

Some important measurements I needed beforehand:

  • Width of furniture below the planned gallery wall
A couple of general rules for gallery wall:

  1. The length of the gallery should be about ²∕₃ of the width of the furniture (like a console table or a bed frame) below it
  2. Bottom of gallery wall should be about 7 to 10 inches above your furniture
  3. The center point of the gallery wall should be approximately at eye-level of viewers

But looking at inspo photos, I could see a lot of homeowners breaking these rules to create a beautiful gallery wall that makes sense for their space. Some put wall arts all the way up to the ceiling, some arrange them around the furniture itself. That being said, as a first-timer, I find these rules helpful in laying down the foundations for my own gallery.

  • Width and height of bare space on the wall
My console table is only about 120cm long but since I wanted to have a gallery wall longer than that, I needed to know how far I could go! I already had a chair next to the console table and planned to add fake plants next to the table so I want the lengths of the gallery to complement my decorations' length below it.

  • The height of any tall furniture placed at adjacent walls
There is a huge leaning mirror on the wall next to my designated gallery wall so I figured the highest point of my gallery wall could correspond to the height of the tallest furniture in the same space.

Choose a colour palette

It's less about limiting your choices and more about creating cohesiveness. I want to keep up a theme for the house, so I followed my existing home decor colour palette of three main colours: blue, yellow, and pink. But as you can see, I welcome trickles of other colours, too! 

I thrive in a colourful world but I get that for others, a big group of colours can be seen as chaotic. In my search for insirations, I saw many neutral gallery wall with muted colours or even in just black and white that are beautiful and calming — all of which I'd be happy to have in my house if I have the space.

Something I constantly reminded myself was what I envision may not fly with others, but the goal here is to create something that I would be happy to see and live with every single day, in my own house.

Finalize the gallery wall plan on paper

By this stage, I knew what sort of arrangement I like (asymmetrical, lots of different sized frames together, and very colourful) and how wide and tall I could go, so I started putting the drawings all down on paper to help visualize the gallery wall. I had two arrangements of a nine-frame wall gallery in mind but after a lot of measuring up against my wall, one made more sense than the others.
All of my frames were from Ikea as not only are they accessible, affordable and came in the colours I wanted (white, black, gold) but the exact measurements for each frame design are provided on their site. The measurements of a frame designed for a 30x40 cm art, for example, will not be 30 cm in width and 40 cm in length, but might be 33x43 cm or even 38x48 cm. Every centimetre counted in my gallery planning.

The first photo was the very first arrangement I thought of having, but I sadly had to scrap it because the total length was too much. Good thing I had another firm favourite, which as you can see turned into the final look!

Note: A friend of mine asked me if all this work is really needed to create a gallery wall, and my answer is no, not really! Some decorators just freestyled their arrangement and their gallery wall turned out beautifully. But since this is my first attempt at creating my own gallery, I needed to be sure of all details before nailing anything in!

Do a mock-up on the wall

A brilliant tip I picked up online: fashion the "frames" from brown craft paper by cutting them according to each of their size, arrange them on the wall according to your drawing, and secure the corners with tape. This way, you could check if the drawing would work on your own wall before committing to it. If something doesn't work, you could just move the paper around or try another arrangement.

Thankfully, my initial idea didn't need much tweaking; some "frames" got moved up or down a few cm before I finally settled on a final mock-up.

Hang them frames

Our wall has faux bricks installed on top (not so much "faux", but bricks that are a fraction of proper bricks' thickness — this is a thing now) so we decided to get a professional to drill the holes and hang up our frames. The guy we hired didn't have to do a lot of groundwork as all he needed to do was measure the hook at the back of the Ikea frames, marked it on the paper rectangles, and drill the nails in through the paper.

PS: Just a reminder that some Ikea frames, like the Ribba, are thicker and need a longer or bigger nail.

Final & most exciting step: display the arts

All that's left to be done was to put the arts in! I had planned which art goes where but somehow the original arrangement didn't feel at harmony, so I moved the prints around until I was satisfied. Another reminder: don't be discouraged if your final vision doesn't come out the way you originally planned it. I find more often that not, things turn out for the better!

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My first gallery wall is by no means perfect but that's an advantage to having a gallery wall: you could always switch the arts around to get a different look — which, to be honest, I'm already looking forward to. I've had this arrangement up since I moved in and already had new ideas to continue keeping things fresh!

I hope you enjoyed reading this gallery wall post, and also inspired by it! Let me know what you think of my gallery wall touch 


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Hi, I'm Liyana

I'm a style & lifestyle blogger based in sunny (and ever humid) Malaysia. On The Good Weekender, you can find typed journals of my evolving modest personal style, travel adventures, skincare/beauty updates, home decor things, and stories of other bits and pieces of my everyday life. I hope you'll enjoy flipping through these pages of my virtual book!