Maybe it's time for new artwork in your house, or maybe the painters have just left and you're planning out new decor to match your new walls. Either way, hanging family pictures and chic artwork is more work than just sticking a nail in the wall. You should be planning your spread the same way an art gallery plans out the perfect layout, and luckily, you don't need an art degree to do it well. With some careful thought and consideration, you'll have a display that will wow guests as they enter and liven up any room, even in the heart of winter.
The first step in any home project is absolutely throwing ideas out that you stay unattached to - once you find the right one, the other ideas will pale in comparison. Think about the number of images you want to display and the style of gallery that will match the rest of your decor. Style options might include color vs. grayscale; framing; and whether or not you choose a central piece of art that you base your other choices around. Also think about where you want to put these images, and aim for location that's not already cluttered with other knick knacks or pieces of furniture. Don't worry too much about getting the placement exactly right yet - you can always adjust before you put them up. But aim to keep the center of the display at about 57 inches from the floor - that's about eye level for most and is used by professional galleries and museums.
Once you've settled on a general area for your DIY gallery and the style you're going for, it's time to start choosing images. They don't have to match completely, and in fact different but complementary pictures can add visual interest and an artistic flair to the spread. Think about pairing images with similar color schemes, or family photos from a variety of perspectives. If you have an interior decorator you work with, have them make suggestions about what might flow with the rest of your style. Once you've got some options, make and print copies of the full-size images in preparation for the next step.
Figure Out the Layout
This is where things can get a little tricky and you may need to make some cuts in how many images you put up. Use the copies you printed and start laying them out on a flat surface. Keep in mind how much wall space you can use for pictures before the room starts to look crowded, and don't forget to account for frame size. Mixing and matching portrait and landscape images can spice up the display while also allowing you to fit more pieces into a small space. Finalize the design and make your measurements; then use painter's tape and a level to outline where each piece will go on the wall (you can use post-its to remember which piece goes where). Measure and mark the tape with a pencil so you know where the center of each image is, and use an extra piece of tape to mark the hanging mechanism if it falls further away from the edge of the frame.
Finally, the step where it all comes together! Based on your wall type and frame type (and weight!), choose the best method of hanging the images (picture hooks, reinforced drywall screws, etc.) and gather your supplies. Don't be afraid to talk to a professional if you're not sure - it's better to get their opinion now than have to call them for a large repair later. Based on the tape markings you set up earlier, drill your holes and add the hardware or hammer in the hangers, and test the frame to make sure it ended up where it belongs, but only drill/hammer with all artwork removed from the wall. Once you have all the holes drilled, nails hammered, and hardware inserted, hang each piece carefully; then, step back and admire your handiwork!
Above and Beyond
If the above tips all seem painfully plain to you, why not go above and beyond to display your best artwork and photography? Have a contractor help you plan out and install track lighting with a dimmer switch so you can highlight the best aspects of the pieces, or think about a living room remodel that adds a recessed wall area for a special collection. When the projects are finished, invite your friends over for the grand opening of your DIY gallery, and leave them impressed!