How I created my stairway gallery wall
I’ve long been a fan of a gallery wall, I’ve had at least one in each of the houses we’ve owned. I ear marked the staircase walls of our new home as the perfect place for a floor to ceiling gallery wall . Our ceilings are very low in comparison to our old house, but the staircase ceiling at 3.6m in height offered the perfect place for me to create my dream gallery wall.
Moving to a house with lower ceilings had posed a problem, that of where to hang Phylis the unicorn (yes you heard me right), Phylis the unicorn, made by the super talented Jon of Broken Hare . Phylis had come to live with us a couple of years earlier, a belated Christmas present to ourselves. She is just beautiful and deserved to be showcased in our new home. She presides over our gallery wall, resplendent, taking centre stage.
I hadn’t realised how much art we owned until we started to pack it up during the move. Once the hall, stairs and landing had been decorated I was itching to unpack it all. When the day came it was like Christmas, unpacking some of my favourites pieces, having not seen them for 6 months was fantastic.
I have so many! Phylis has to go at the top of the list, followed by a print of Ann Carrington’s Pearly Queen of Trafalgar, the piece depicting the Queen on a postage stamp was originally created using thousands of buttons. The print is the most beautiful quality and framed in a perspex box frame, it was an anniversary gift from Mark for our paper wedding anniversary. I also love some original works picked up on our travels, including an original oil painting of a greyhound on a red sofa picked up at a charity shop, The Crank Bunny tattooed paper dolls are lovely and were a Christmas gift for Mark one year, I have one of Anna Hayman’s prints from her collaboration with Beth Fraser, the woman on the print is called Sadie and reminded me of my very own Sadie, so I just had to buy it.
Where to start
If you’re considering a gallery wall there is so much inspiration, Pinterest is great, as is Instagram, #gallerywall will bring up tons of inspiration, almost one million posts in fact and Instagram’s save feature means that when you find some posts you love you can save them for inspiration when you need them. There is everything from colour themed walls, plate gallery walls, children’s art gallery walls. Blogger Nicola Broughton, @thegirlwiththegreensofa runs #gallerywallhashtag on Instagram along with @agi_@_59 @blisfully_eclectic and @tlee79 each week they share their favourites on their stories and a weekly winner on their main feeds.
I would say don’t rush into anything, you can take time curating a collection that you love, you don’t have to source everything at the same time, let it be organic.
What to include in your gallery wall
In terms of what to include in your gallery wall the possibilities really are endless, I love to see a mix of modern with vintage, black and white photographs with oil paintings, simple modern frames and vintage ones too. Three dimensional items are great to use as part of a gallery wall, roe dear antlers or faux taxidermy for example are great ways of adding interest and depth to a gallery wall. One of my favourite things is a Mimi Kirchner Tattooed man, a 40th birthday gift. Massachusetts based Mimi is a fabric artist and makes the most exquisite tattooed ladies and gents. He hangs within a gallery wall in my dining room, where I can admire him every day. The best thing about a gallery wall is that they are totally personal, filled with things you love.
What have I included in ours?
I’ve included original paintings picked up in Paris flee markets, Pure Evil and Anthropologie plates, Crank Bunny paper dolls, a limited edition Back to Basics Flyer print (A Christmas present for Mark one year) and a few prints picked up over the years from Redbrick Mill, who knows what might pop up on there next! Another thing I love about a gallery wall is being able to change them whenever you feel like it.
Where to buy frames
Over the years I’ve amassed quite a collection of Ikea Ribba frames, they come in lots of different sizes, are cheap and their simplicity can really showcase the subject. whilst Ribba frames have glass in them, some of Ikea’s frames have acrylic instead and whilst they are great as they are light and child safe I have found that the acrylic scratches easily which doesn’t look great.
Car boot sales and charity shops can be great for vintage frames, you can often pick empty frames up, it’s relatively cheap and easy to get a piece of glass cut to size. I’ve picked other frames up with hideous pictures in them, don’t worry, these can soon be replaced with something much more attractive.
If you are wanting to frame a particular piece I would advise making a note of the size required. I keep notes for things like this on the notes section on my phone, that way if I’m out and about I have the details to hand rather than on a random piece of paper I’m likely to loose.
How you hanging?
I know lots of people spend a long time planning a gallery wall, working out spacing, which pieces complement each other etc, I however, am a little more cavalier in my gallery hanging. This is why if you were to move a piece you’re most likely to find a couple of extra holes where I might not have got it quite right the first time!
For those who may be trying one for the first time, you might want to be a little more organised, in which case there is some great advice and tips online to help. You are likely to need a tape measure, nails, hammer, I find the brass picture hanging kits you find in shops are a little useless particularly if you are going into anything other than a plaster board wall, in which case the tacks can bend. I much prefer a masonry nail as they are much stronger.
I have also used picture hanging strips in the past too, I find they are much better when used for lighter items.
For those of you not wanting to commit to holes in walls another way of creating a gallery is to use picture ledges, I’ve used these in my daughters room, the Mosslanda comes in black and white and in both 55cm and 115cm, starting at just £5. For those in period properties who may have the advantage of an original picture rail, frames and other items can look great hung from them, as shown below in the Los Angeles home of designer, Nadia Geller, I particularly love the way she has layered the pieces.
Sourcing pieces for your gallery wall
As I’ve mentioned car boot sales and charity shops are a great source for frames, you might be lucky to pick up some bargain art too, I once picked up an original 1950’s Dutch Old Master print in mint condition which was just what I was looking for for a client to compliment the House of Hackney Midnight Garden fabric and wallpaper I used in their scheme.
Galleries and museums often have great selections, you can search by colour and theme on The Tate’s online shop, they also have an A-Z of artists so you can search for your favourite or explore new ones.
I discovered artist Florence Lee on Instagram and love her work, this Audrey Hepburn portrait is a particular favourite.
Online gallery One off to Twenty five ran by Jaz showcases a curated collection of original art and prints of editions no larger than 25. Jaz’s stunning home is often used to showcase pieces from the website, as seen below:
Print Club London has a great selection of limited edition prints, starting from just under £40.
With prices starting at only £25 and a large selection of artists Nelly Duff is also well worth a browse, UK stockist of Crank Bunny, who’s paper dolls are shown below. They have a Dave Buonaguidi show “Say it with Flowers running there from 6th to 12th September which I’d love to catch.
Ibride’s cult quirky trays make great gallery wall additions, a collection hung together can look fabulous but they work equally well amongst other pieces.
Why hang a gallery wall
For me I love a gallery wall because they are so personal and the items within them evoke memories, how lovely to walk down the stairs on a dreary morning and glimpse a painting picked up on a romantic weekend, just call me a sentimental old fool!
On my wish list
I’d love one of Dave Buonaguidi’s “Have a Nice Day” prints, I love the colours, how the typography is printed over the image and the playful nature of the piece.
I’m currently renovating our bedroom and have my eye on a pair of Peggy Wolf prints at Tin Design, Misty and Glamour both digital collages featuring beautiful ladies and birds (I have a thing for birds). They start at £45 for A3.