To me, the best gallery walls look collected; like they've been assembled in fits and starts across decades and cities and moods and life stages. The problem is that no one wants to wait 25 years to decorate their house. We want our homes to look good right now. Here are a few tricks to get that layered, collected look in far less time.
Mix frame styles
Especially if you're buying all new frames, it's important to get a variety of materials, colors, and styles. This helps achieve the impression that the pieces were collected over a period, rather than all at once.
This applies to matting, too. Leave some prints without mats, and for the rest mix matting colors and widths, like in the lovely fireplace collection above.
Hoxton Hotel, Paris
Include a variety of subjects and mediums
To achieve the look of a casual collection, intersperse still lifes with landscapes, portraits with architectural drawings, and oil paintings with ink sketches. The dining room of Paris's Hoxton Hotel is a superb example of how blending art styles and mediums can lend a cozy, homey feel even to a public space.
The same goes for historical periods, too
There's no better way to convey a sense of slow accumulation than to include pieces from different eras -- whether those are art movements, like Impression and cubism, or historical periods, like the Victorian era or midcentury period.
But above all, choose art that speaks to you
All that said, the most important "rule" is to display pieces that you love or that speak to you in some way. You're going to be living with these images, and they should make you feel good. That's a personal judgment, and in the end it's what makes an interesting and eye-catching gallery wall, one that reflects the whims and personality of the individual.
Banner image via House & Garden UK