I was helping a friend hang a gallery wall in her home a few weeks ago. She had a stack of frames (mostly from Ikea and Target) filled with all beautiful things and memories, but for some reason, she couldn’t make her layout feel effortless and casual. Upon looking at the mix of frames and material, I agreed: It did feel stiff. We changed one thing and it easily came together.
We took a couple mats out of the frames and filled them with something that would fill the whole frame! I know it might be difficult to remove the mat from a frame that maybe you paid for (or paid extra for), but every gallery wall needs at least two things that are mat free, in my opinion. Or! If everything is mat-free, add at least 2 mats. It helps things feel gathered and more modern and less stiff or repetitive.
There is one exception! If you are using all the same frame in the same size (in a grid arrangement or otherwise), the gallery of frames can all look the same.
I hope that helps anyone else putting together a gallery wall. Take a look around the gallery walls in your home (and on the internet!), do they follow this easy rule?