Art

5 Tips for Hanging a Collected Vintage Gallery Wall

February 1, 2021  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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One of the most asked questions is, “How do I put together an organic, vintage gallery wall?” We shared the family photo gallery wall we did in our hallway right here, but the gallery wall in our bathroom was different. Did you sense that, too? The one in our hallway was more polished and structured, filled with all black and white photos. This one was a gathered gallery filled with collected art. The frames were more mis-matched and eclectic and the layout was a lot less structured, too.

I didn’t have a grand plan when I hung them. I didn’t even do any of the fancy layout tricks with paper or tape. So when I sat down to write this post, on how to get the look in your home, I struggled, because there isn’t really a formula. But I can offer you some tips!

1. Have a few larger pieces to ground the gallery, but a wide range of sizes is nice!

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In the case of our bathroom, I hung two larger pieces on either side and it really helped me feel like okay! I’m getting somewhere right off the bat. But it wasn’t until I mixed in really small pieces that it felt collected and charming. If it was all small pieces or all medium pieces, it would feel cluttered and overwhelming. So the wide range really really is to your advantage.

2. A reoccurring theme is nice.

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The key to making an eclectic gallery wall feel cohesive, when frames are varied (and they should be) is to pick some sort of theme to be repeated throughout. Maybe it’s portraits or landscapes or architecture or line drawing! I’m not saying that it has to be the sole study of the gallery, but the repeat really helps it flow.

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3. Just say no to 100% matted art.


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A bright white mat on all of your vintage art is the biggest tell. A couple matted frames are great, but I love to mix in some antiqued mats and art that’s not matted at all feels really aged and special (even if it’s not).

4. Hang the art asymmetrically.  It shouldn’t be perfect.

If you hang a medium piece to the left of a small piece, maybe on the other side you want to swap and have the smaller piece on the left. Switch it up! Oh, there’s more space on this side–great! I love gallery walls that follow the shape of furniture. I love one that includes an object! I love one that has vertical and horizontal orientations.

5. Mix up the frames!

If you scroll back through this post, you’ll see not one gallery had all one color of frame. It’s a look and a look that works! But not for a collected vintage gallery, in my opinion. No, you want gold and black and vintage white and light wood and dark wood. What you don’t want is one frame to stand out among the others. I had one piece of art I couldn’t use in our bathroom because the frame was such a vibrant gold it stood out amongst the other more muted frames.

We rounded up some of our favorite frames that would be perfect mixed into a gallery wall below!

 

1. Mid Tone Frame | 14×14 matted to 5×7 | $25
2. Brass Metal Frame | 17×17 matted to 4×6 | $80
3. Creative Mark Frame | 9×12 | $44
4. Expresso Frame | 8×10 | $12
5. Matted Frame | 17×23 matted to 11×14 | $80
6. Bronze Picture Frame | 8×10 | $6
7. Brass Metal Clad Frame | 8×12 | $12
8. Burnished Gold Frame | 10×10 | $19
9. Ornate Gold/Black Frame | 11×17 | $29
10. Viteri Hanging Frame | 8×8-11×14 | $28+
11. Aged Gold Frame | 16×20 | $59
12. Bronze Frame | 11×14 matted to 8×10 | $22
13. Oversized Woord Matted Frame | 16×20 matted to a 5×7 | $95
14. Icon Black Wall Frame | 20×20 matted to a 5×5 | $34
15. Wood Photo Frame | 12×12 matted to a 4×6 | $29
16. Thin Black Mat Frame | 14×18 matted to a 8×10 | $20

And if you’re not sure where to start with art, check thrift stores and facebook marketplace always! But you can always check out this post of 12 sources for digital art you can print at home and here for more places we like to shop for art!

What do you think?

  1. C. S. says:

    In browsing Pinterest for ways to frame art & family photos I came upon your site. Thank you for this- there is so much more authenticity & character! It gives me direction in decorating our 3 story home built in 1900. I can’t wait to start!

  2. Bernadette Reynolds says:

    Julia, I enjoy your website and the work, you and Chris put into it.. I worked with your mother and Grandmother in Pittsburgh. She told me about your website, I just love and enjoy reading all your great ideas. Great job! Thanks for all the ideas.

  3. Rebecca Dollar says:

    I recall reading that the accessible beige used on the trim in the majority of your gorgeous home is not at 100%. Can you help? I’ve searched hi and low and I can’t find it again. I feel like it was 25 or 50%. I did find that ceiling color and that was super helpful.

  4. Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips! Gallery walls and especially trying to do a vintage gallery wall is so intimidating but you break it down so easy for those of us that need the help, and to offer the links for frames and sources of vintage art is the icing on the cake. So so appreciated. Xx

  5. Ali says:

    This is SUCH greatness!!! Beautiful artwork gallery around that classic and timeless dream bathroom tub! It’s so layered, cozy and dreamy! I appreciate being a part of the design process in this bathroom and seeing Julia try various lights and window treatments. It helps me build courage to keep trying and adapting projects in my home. I often stop too soon and feel badly that I didn’t get it done in one step. This blog encourages me to accept the process and trust that I can brainstorm and experiment with decor and design on a much smaller scale in my home. It seems the small details you share on this blog mean the most to me! I love learning here and watching the design process! It gives me courage to try at home. Thank you Julia, Chris, Andi and the entire CLJ team! You all are a bright spot and favorite to check in for inspiration, learning, design, home projects, cooking, home decor, fashion, landscape and yard design and family!

  6. Nancy S says:

    Framebridge just came out with a blue frame – just ordered my first piece from them. Very excited to start my collection! I appreciate all the frame suggestions.

  7. Love these tips and I LOVE a gallery wall, we just recently did one around the TV in our bedroom (which we did the DIY frame TV to) and it turned out awesome!

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