My Dad Has the Best Tip for Curating a Unique Gallery Wall (It’s So Smart!)

published Jul 10, 2024
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Records hung on picture ledge above sideboard in living room with seating and disco ball.
Credit: Michelle Garay

In no particular order, the three official dad-isms are dad jokes (kind of corny), dad sneakers (kind of comfortable), and dad advice (honestly, kind of useful). While my dad’s sneaker choices aren’t so bad, I will say the advice is where he shines — especially when sharing his pointers on renovating, furniture shopping, and most importantly, record collection curation.

Collecting records has always been one of his passions, and if he wasn’t constructing a deck in the backyard or mounting a shelf in the living room, he was teaching me how to track down my own collection. My dream was to build a collection that spoke to my music taste and could be displayed on a dedicated record wall, without sacrificing vinyl quality or breaking the bank. 

If you have similar ambitions and you’re ready to start celebrating your favorite albums outside of the digital streaming world, then this dad’s advice on curating a record collection was meant to find you.

How to Shop for a Record Collection

Before curating a record collection, first consider why you’re doing it. For instance, are you seeking out specific artists that you like,  or just pretty covers, or both?  Whatever your motivation, there are many ways to shop within your budget for that album you have your eye on. 

My dad’s advice for the in-person hunt? Shop where you can do a full vinyl inspection, and go to stores that let you visually, physically, and audibly examine a record. Curating a collection of anything means you’re committed to the long game, and with records, looking and listening — for warping, scratches, and chips — is important so you aren’t investing in one that won’t last.

Another tip for in-person shopping, and one that’s ideal for cover art enthusiasts who like to keep their display refreshed, is to negotiate bulk purchases. Many antique shops have a never-ending inventory of records, and it’s worth starting a conversation to see if you can take five or six for a set price. 

Credit: Sean Benesh/Unsplash

My dad’s strategy for curating online starts and ends with the Discogs Marketplace. Ebay can be another online destination to shop, but be careful about the one-off sellers who don’t necessarily specialize in records. They’re not as likely to be concerned with quality and grading, and more so just want to get it off their hands.

Discogs, on the other hand, is a site with tons of independent record sellers and is useful for both researching and purchasing. When shopping around, find sellers who have ‘good’ feedback (99% or more) and an assortment of vinyls with a ‘Very Good Plus (VG+)’ condition rating. 

Styling, Storing, and Maintaining Your Record Collection

While I was putting my dad’s curating tips to use, I was building my setup, too. Taking the design reins and the power drill from him, I anchored my vision around these 5-Record Ledges from Etsy. Although pricey, they were an ideal purchase, as showcasing my collection was a priority (they also gave me cabinet space back!) and the walnut hardwood was a perfect, sleek complement to Tempaper’s Faux Grasscloth Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper that I was applying to the wall.

Credit: Michelle Garay

If your wall space is limited, there are a ton of other ways to get creative with displaying and storing your curated records. Single-vinyl shelves and album frames are a great route if you have a few special ones you want to show off on your wall, and some incredibly stylish record consoles on the market can also act as entryway tables, bookcases, and storage solutions for other belongings.

As fun as record curating and styling are, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of the vinyls themselves (so says dad). Microfiber cloths and Sprayway Glass Cleaner are a solid cleaning solution that you can buy altogether on Amazon. Spray the cloth, wipe the record clean, then wipe it dry before giving it a spin on your turntable. 

Curating a vinyl collection and building a record wall to show it off has been a fun, creative journey, and I’m grateful for all the dad advice along the way. With National Vinyl Record Player Day just around the corner, there’s never a better time to kick-start your own!