In theory, I've never met a gallery wall I didn't like. They fill a blank wall up nicely and add personality to a room by allowing you to display your favorite artwork, photos and keepsakes all in one spot. But they're not always easy to pull off. Even when you're going for that artfully random look, a gallery wall takes a lot of planning. So if you're looking for a way to simplify the process and do something a little different, then consider the aligned art wall, where some (or all) of the outer edges of your frames line up perfectly with one another no matter their sizes.
According to framing guru Susan Tynan, founder and CEO of Framebridge, the most perfectionist, "type A" decorator way to do the aligned art wall is with a grid of frames in the exact same size and finish, as seen in the living room of blogger Cassie Freeman of Hi Sugarplum. Symmetry really makes a major impact, and these kinds of grids are great for showing off a collection of prints, family photos, maps or even pressed botanicals.
The row is another way to rock an aligned art wall. You basically get this dramatic rectangle shape that spans a whole wall with minimal effort. What's great about an aligned row configuration is you don't have to have that many pieces to pull off this look either, but again the frames should be of similar sizes. Bigger is often better for rows, as evidenced by this bedroom by designer Orlando Soria via Style by Emily Henderson. Too many tiny pictures would look awkward in a row along an entire wall, but you could probably get away with a little row over a bed if you want to try this idea out on a smaller scale.
I personally love an aligned box shape for the wall space over a sofa, which is seen here in this image from the Getty Images blog. Sure, as Tynan points out, the distances between each of the frames will likely be different, and you have to figure that out. But the final look is still a perfect square or rectangle, so you can only get so crazy with the borders in between your pieces.
If you have a big mix of items in a wide variety of sizes, you're going to need more flexibility. This is where lining up just the bottoms of your frames can work wonders. Design-wise, I find that this configuration can play up a pretty architectural feature like a chair rail or wainscoting, as seen in this living room on ALT.DK. The lines of the frames echo the shape of the molding quite nicely.
Aligned gallery walls also work in corners and nooks, at least if this cute little arrangement from the C.R.A.F.T blog is any indicator. It's totally possible to keep the edges of your frames in a straight line, even if your pieces span two touching walls. This configuration seems to look its best when there's a piece furniture to anchor the frames, so they all don't just look like they're floating in space.
Now go grab your hammer and get hanging. But first, a gallery wall PSA (from someone who's had to patch a hole or two that didn't quite pan out): Use a level and really consider making kraft paper templates before you put a nail in the wall. You can thank me later.