DIY Gallery Wall for Under $150

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Frames can be expensive, and when you’re talking about creating a gallery wall with 15 or more frames, the dollar signs add up quickly. But, it is possible to create a gallery wall (including the art!) for under $150. Here’s how…

  1. Finding the frames
    As mentioned before, new frames can be extremely expensive. So, search your local thrift stores and antique stores. You can find large frames for as little as $5 at thrift stores. Don’t let the art in the frames or the color/finish of the frames deter you, they both can easily be changed. If you don’t like the art, removing the print from the mat is simple, and if you don’t like the color or finish of the frames, repaint them.When choosing frame sizes, try to get a combination of large, medium and small sized frames. The number will depend on the amount of wall space you have and how much space you want the gallery wall to take up.I chose to fill up the entire wall, from (almost) ceiling to baseboard. I also decided that I wanted all the frames to be white, black or natural wood, with the exception of one (oh hey, bright pinky coral). Once you have your collection of frames, you’re ready to start filling them with art.
  2. Choosing the art
    Some of you may already have a collection of art you know you want to display. For me, I had many prints that I knew I wanted to hang, but for the most part, I was looking for the right prints for the frame size I knew I needed.Most of the art I have in the smaller frames are torn pages out of design magazines, calendar pages, postcards or illustrations I found online and printed myself (I felt comfortable using printed images since they were for personal use in my home and I was not making a profit from them. However, if I were to to sell the prints, I would obviously follow appropriate copyright laws).

    For the larger frames, you can purchase inexpensive large prints on art.com or you can have large (I’m talking 36” wide!) black and white prints made for $4 at Kinkos. Also, interior designer, Jenny Komenda, recently launched Jenny’s Print Shop, where you can download any print for $15 to then print yourself at virtually any size.

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  3. Frame mats (how to cut them yourself)
    I chose to use all white mats (with the exception of a few black or gray mats) and I cut all of them myself. You can purchase art board from your local art supply store in the color and finish you want. Measure the size of the frame and cut your board to fit, then decide what print you want to mat. I like to mix it up and have some larger frames hold small prints, meaning the mat takes up most of the frame (see the wood frame to the far right), but the mat to print ratio is completely up to your preferences.Measure the size of the print, then draw your cut lines on the on the backside of the mat board. Subtract the width of the mat by the width of the print, then divide by two and add 1/8”. That number will be the number of inches in you will draw your cut lines on each side. You need the 1/8” allowance to ensure the print lays and can be secured smoothly to the back of the mat board. That all sounds very complicated, but it’s not, I promise. See below for an example.img_0172.jpgUse a sharp exacto blade and straight edge ruler to cut out the center of the mat board, then tape your print in place to the back.

  4. Hanging the frames
    When hanging the frames, I hung the large frames first and spaced them out so they weren’t all right next to each other. I then hung the medium-sized frames and filled in the empty spaces with the small-sized frames.It may look random, but there is some rhyme or reason to my process. In multiple places, I lined up the bottoms and/or tops of the frames to help guide where they were hung (see below).frame-alignment.png

I love, love, love the look of the gallery wall. It makes such a statement in my small studio apartment and allows me to display so many of my favorite prints.

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