Design at Altitude column: How to design an at-home gallery wall | VailDaily.com

Design at Altitude column: How to design an at-home gallery wall

Yvonne Jacobs
Design at Altitude

One of the easiest ways to personalize your house is with artwork — artwork that speaks to you, that brings you joy and that you can lose yourself in for a few minutes or a few hours. Everyone has a wall of photos, too. Photos that help us remember special times, fun gatherings and our history, whether it's a picture of your grandmother in her wedding gown or a photo of your now 17-year-old son as a baby in the bathtub.

But how can this artwork be a cohesive design unit while maintaining the individuality of each piece? It can feel impossible to edit the wall of photos, but having 67 pictures scattered across the wall can be too busy. Senior designer Andrea Georgopolis was tasked with editing a client's photo wall. She was able to do it easily because she could look at the photos impartially, knew what flowed together and what looked better elsewhere.

Feeling inspired? First off, obviously, you need the art to fill the space. This isn't something that can be done in a day or weekend. Collecting prints, photos and paintings will take time. Don't be discouraged and think only art that costs thousands of dollars is worthy of your space. Find what you love, which can take some time. There are so many places to find beautiful art that won't cost more than your car. The Vail Valley has plenty of art festivals every year, farmers markets feature local artists, and estate sales and even the Thrifty Shoppe can have great finds.

OK, you've found your art: Here are a few tips to create a gallery-inspired wall for your artwork. Start at the right height — 57 inches is a good height to hang the anchor piece. It seems low, but most of us hang our art too high. Keeping it at 57 inches brings the room together. Remember, your piece will have a hook in the back, so some math is required.

You've found the center of the wall, tapped in a nail at 57 inches, so now what? Refer back to the anchor piece. You want one statement piece, one large, commanding piece that you can work your other pieces around.

Smaller pieces are lovely too, though, so don't rule them out. I sometimes put a large mat board and frame on small pieces, making the 3-inch-by-5-inch painting much more significant. These smaller pieces are horizontal, vertical, square and long. It keeps the wall from looking too cookie cutter.

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Put enough space between all the pictures so it's not crammed, but don't leave huge gaps. It's getting tricky, right? Lay all the art out on the floor so you can get a true feel for how it will look, what you like and what you think should be moved around.

Finally, try to keep the frame sizes and styles similar. It is another way to tie the overall look together while maintaining a very individual look. Work in a variety of mediums from black-and-white photos to canvases. Then step back and enjoy your art.

Yvonne Jacobs has been designing for more than two decades and is president of Slifer Designs. For more information, visit http://www.sliferdesigns.com.