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How to Curate a Striking Gallery Wall, According to Local Experts

Create a striking gallery wall with tips from three Valley experts.

Design trends may ebb and flow, but curating a gallery or salon wall of your favorite art and artifacts will always be in style. There’s no right or wrong way to assemble your objects, and designers may have differing opinions about how to hang them, but you should always start with pieces that you love, says interior designer Julia Buckingham. 

This statement-making configuration can include anything from family photos and textiles to decorative plates and framed art pieces. When making an initial assessment, identify the best location for your project, observes interior designer Kristen Forgione. Look for wall space that is expansive in either length or width to provide the best vantage point, she says. “From there you can start the process by mapping out the overall design concept for your gallery wall.” 

Forgione prefers using a uniform and symmetrical look, because it imparts a feeling of calm and timelessness. For this style, she uses matching, same-sized frames and prints or photos in all black and white or all color to achieve a more cohesive appearance. But a bespoke or collected gallery wall with mismatched frames and other items can also work, she says. “The key to mixing and matching is sticking to a theme, ensuring each piece is highly curated to avoid a gallery wall that feels messy and disjointed.”

The owners of this home, with interiors by Lori Clarke and Summer Varin, chose a theme of impressionist art for their stylish salon wall.; Photo by Isaac Bailey

And while many designers suggest organizing the wall around a theme such as Broadway show posters or botanical prints, sometimes the subject matter will be disparate, and that’s OK, Buckingham says. She suggests collecting items that are different sizes and shapes and to group pieces that don’t necessarily go together. “It’s more interesting when items are added to the collection that aren’t expected,” she says. To create visual interest, she recommends staggering the margins, using different framing materials, such as silver and gold along with weathered and lacquered wood and mixing differing textures and mediums.

“Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to experiment.”

—Lisa Olsen, gallery owner

Instead of artwork, homeowners chose to bedeck their media room wall in gilded mirrors. Photo by Michael Woodall

Once you’ve gathered your objects, lay them out on the floor or a large table to visualize your space. Some people like to measure, but that’s not essential, Buckingham asserts. “I put the largest pieces in the center and then it becomes like a puzzle.” She spaces items two to three inches apart and hangs the center piece at the eye level of an average-sized person (about 5 foot, 6 inches). Then, she lets the wall come together organically.

Art should add personality to a room, says Phoenix gallery owner Lisa Olsen. Some homeowners want matching frames and others seek art and objects that remind them of trips they’ve taken, a special moment in time or a collection of items, she adds. “You’re curating your life and space to make you feel most comfortable.”

When hanging a gallery wall, Olsen picks a favorite piece or two and then branches out in all directions, sometimes from floor to ceiling. She’s an advocate of “eyeballing” the space and using dimensional pieces, including coffee mugs resting on small shelves and ceramic animal heads along with framed art and photographs. “Variety keeps your eye moving and interested,” she says.

But if you’re not ready to “wing it,” measure the space, plot your design and line up the pieces before hanging. Most importantly, choose objects that make you happy, Olsen says. “Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Sit with things for a while, and if it feels wrong, move it. Nothing is permanent.”

Interior designer Kristen Forgione chose a streamlined, homogeneous collection of black-and-white photos with identical frames and matting for a timeless look. Photo by Nick Sorensen

PAGE 43—Interior designers: Lori Clarke and Summer Varin, Lori Clarke Design, Scottsdale,

PAGE 45—Interior designer: Kristen Forgione, THELIFESTYLEDCO, Phoenix,


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