Organize & Clean

How To Create a Gallery Wall on a Budget

updated Mar 30, 2023
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Gallery Wall Inspiration

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With $200 to spend upfront and a large space to fill, I knew my vision of a gallery wall was not immediately attainable. I would be hard pressed to find just frames for this price, let alone mats and art. I took a different approach in order to spread the cost out over time and avoid rushing into buying pieces I didn’t love.

What our apartment lacks in square footage it makes up for in height, and while volume doesn’t translate to usable area, it can give the perception of a larger space The 12’ wide by 14’ high wall in our living room is the perfect canvas for something striking, that draws your eye up, offering the illusion of a grand space. An art collage provided an opportunity to display a collection of pieces we love.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step 1: Select frames and create a diagram to play with layout options.

I did some research on frames and decided to go with IKEA because of cost constraints and because they had the clean look that I wanted. I found dimensions of the frames online and created scaled paper cutouts of the different sizes. I measured our wall and sketched a quick elevation, on which I played around with different arrangements for the frames. I wanted something organic but somewhat structured in terms of spacing. I went with the option of creating a horizontal line that divides the top and bottom portion of the collage, and eventually came up with a scheme that I liked.

More on designing the layout for a framed collage:

Step 2: Purchase the frames.

I was able to purchase IKEA Ribba frames in a variety of sizes for just under $200. My notes on the diagram above show the breakdown of sizes and associated costs. I bought 14 frames but used 13 for the collage. I decided to mix the wood and black and purchased half of each finish.

(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

Step 3: Hang the frames.

When I got home from IKEA, I laid out the collage on the floor adjacent to the wall. I used a measuring tape, a level, a hammer, hooks and a pencil to hang the frames. A flat head screw driver also came in handy to bend open the little metal pieces that hold the back board of the frame in place.

More on hanging art:

Art Tip: Hang a Gallery Art Wall on the Floor First

How to Hang an Art Collection

Step 4: Collect art and fill your frames with pieces you love.

I knew that investing in art and printing photographs would be a costly part of the project. I decided to get the structure up first and purchase art over time.  For me, seeing the empty frames is motivation to fill them – I’m planning to use some of my own photography. One of the constraints of creating the framed collage before selecting the art is that you’re confined to the size of the frames you’ve hung, although in many cases a custom mat is all you need to remedy variations in size.