I Hate Gallery Walls. There I’ve Said It

Am I the only person in the whole world who doesn’t like a gallery wall? Crazy right? Especially as my ‘Art Walls‘ board on Pinterest is one of my most popular boards ever. Fact is, I do like them on someone else’s wall. Just not mine. I know that those perfectly curated and so casual looking gallery walls are anything but simple to pull off. You need a lot of art to start with. And you need it in an assortment of shapes and sizes for it to look interesting. And yes, I know all the tricks and tips about arranging those different shaped frames and how it’s the frames that matter and not so much what’s in them (even that is a matter of differing opinions). But I’ve never managed to master this art without it looking wrong. And then I spend the next two weeks obsessing over the gaps and the fact that there’s no symmetry ANYWHERE, until the long suffering BF takes it all down and fills in the holes. So if the title of this post fooled you into thinking it’s about gallery walls, you’d be wrong. It’s about hanging art any other way than on a gallery wall.

Hang Art in Pairs

Not a Gallery Wall - Hanging Prints in Pairs

My office at home. Prints by Desenio.

This is my go-too solution for hanging art. Boring? Maybe, but it’s what is pleasing to my eye. How you prefer to hang art is personal after all and I have to confess I have ‘pairs’ hanging all around the house. It’s easy nowadays to find two pieces that match-yet-don’t-match, and I like the squareness created by two rectangular frames hanging side-by-side. My preferred size is 70 x 50 cms but it would depend on where they are hanging or the proportions of the room.

Hang Just One Knock-Out Piece of Art

Not a Gallery Wall - Single piece of knockout art

Abstract 149 from Abstract House

This isn’t a cheap option. The reason gallery walls are so popular is because you can make a statement on a wall without breaking the bank. Buying one enormous piece of artwork is going to be a serious commitment and you have to make sure you will love it for ever. Having said that it will certainly make a statement above a sofa or a bed where a landscape shaped frame works best. A knock-out piece of art that isn’t above furniture would look best in a portrait shaped frame. Again, it’s best to work with the proportions of the wall and what else is in the room.

Hang Art in a Row

Not a gallery wall - hang art in a row

Spring, Summer and Winter by Kate Heiss. Available from Athena

The three square frames here work in the space above the bookcase. Remember, proportions. A lower bookcase or a higher ceiling would work best with portrait hung frames. Keep the space between each frame equal and they MUST all line up top and bottom. Tricky to hang, but that’s why the long suffering BF does mine. With a pencil, measuring tape and lot’s of mathematical equations. I’m not kidding.

Hang Art Above a Piece of Furniture

Not a Gallery Wall - Arrange art over pieces of furniture

Banana Leaf Watercolour Art Print, Art Wow

This is about as asymmetrical as I can get.  And I’d much prefer that artwork above to move to the left a bit. In general, instead of centering art over the main piece of furniture where it might look a little too small, centre it over the side table or other item of furniture. What works above is that the frame is the same colour and width of the table legs and the bottom of the sofa. I wouldn’t normally put art off centre if there was nothing beneath it on one side. Balance. Balance and proportions.

Hang Artwork in a Grid

Not a Gallery Wall - Hang art in a grid pattern

Symphony Collection – Original Art Set Of Six, Abstract House

You might consider this a gallery wall but it’s not. There’s symmetry and balance, and the neat freak in me can live with all those straight lines. Even trickier to hang than the ‘three in a row’ above, but pleasing to the eye. My eye anyway. And a little cheat would be to use two narrow picture shelves as above. Less holes in the wall in the long run and easier to change for something a little less formal if you decide to break all the (my)rules and use different sized frames.

Prop Don’t Hang

Not a gallery wall - prop art on furniture

Abstract 331, Abstract House

Another favourite solution of mine. No need for holes in the wall (or the BF), just prop it and leave it. Prop another smaller one in front and to the side and you have solved the solution of where to hang not one, but two prints. Easy to change when you get bored. I even have them propped up on the floor at home. Don’t, whatever you do, put it in the middle. That’s the only rule.

Small Art = Small Wall

Not a Gallery Wall - Small prints on a small wall

My office at Home. Art from my travels.

Sometimes we just buy art because we love it and not because it was part of a room scheme. It might be too small to hang alone (don’t tell me to create a gallery wall – I’m just not going to do it), or too big for propping up on a shelf. In that case I’ll probably just put it on a smaller wall such as above. There are lot’s of these spaces around the house once you start looking. Beside a large mirror, next to the front door, in the gap between a bookshelf and the corner of the room. Anywhere but on a gallery wall.


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  1. Reply

    Miranda Adekoje

    January 25, 2020

    Love your thoughts! Where did you get the white shelves in your office?

    • Reply


      January 27, 2020

      Hi Miranda, they are from Ikea 🙂

  2. Reply

    Alison Hulett

    August 5, 2018

    Great post, I’ve never liked gallery walls either-must be the minimalist in me. Just about to replace a faded large print with 4 prints of my fave holiday destination-Lanzarote! Prints have been lying in a cupboard waiting for inspiration so you’ve motivated me to get 4 frames this week and get hanging.

    • Reply


      August 5, 2018

      I’m glad you found the post inspiring Alison. 🙂

  3. Reply


    August 4, 2018

    Personally I also like to hang my art in rows, or pairs. It feels more purposeful, and easier on the eye. I can actually enjoy the art work, instead of jumping piece to piece on a jumbled gallery wall.

    • Reply


      August 5, 2018

      I absolutely agree 🙂

  4. Reply


    August 4, 2018

    The only time that I have seen gallery walls look great is in staged photos. Personally I only like them for staircases, but they need to be reading as one piece( not mixed frames and media).
    The worst I find is when it’s mixed art and frames on a wall behind a tv.

    • Reply


      August 5, 2018

      I do agree they can look good on a staircase. 🙂

  5. Reply

    Kimberly Duran

    August 3, 2018

    Love this post and love your tips! I’ve not liked gallery walls since I finally succeeded in covering an entire wall top to bottom and then quickly fell out of love with 70% of the pieces I chose. Nope, not for me either. I like pairs too and I like a single statement pieces. I’m actually considering a shelf above my sofa so I can swap stuff out seeing as I have a toddler’s attention span when it comes to decor 😉 xx

    • Reply


      August 3, 2018

      Haha, glad you liked it. I used to have a shelf above the sofa in my old house but even that became a styling bug bear. Pairs all the way xx


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