If You’re Not Using This Celeb-Approved Artwork in Your Gallery Wall, You’re Missing Out

updated Mar 31, 2021
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Credit: Minette Hand

One of the bright spots of a year spent in collective quarantine is that curious fans have gotten to peek inside their favorite celebs’ homes via Zoom backgrounds on morning TV, late-night programs, and award shows. In case you missed it, comedian Jason Mantzoukas appeared on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on February 25th to promote HBO’s animated series “Close Enough,” but the conversation quickly turned to focus on the paintings in his background, so much so that Meyers suggested Mantzoukas come back for a segment called “Art Beat With Jason,” which I would totally watch. “To have a level of collector like you join us was a true honor and privilege,” Meyers joked.

“I’ve been home alone for a year, so, like, these are the people I spend my time with,” Mantzoukas said of the portraits on display in his kitchen, but I think he seriously might be onto something. The quickest ticket to a perfectly-imperfect, eclectic gallery wall just might be curating a bunch of portraits of people you don’t know.

Many of Mantzoukas’ finds/friends are from online auction sites and eBay. While you can certainly buy new portraits, secondhand or vintage ones can be a fun (and affordable) place to start collecting if you want to get this colorful, high-impact look at home. Need a little more proof? I found six more examples of portrait-focused gallery walls, and this decorating idea is more stylistically versatile than you might think. I’m willing to bet one of these setups will speak to your aesthetic, and if you’re not about pictures of people, you can absolutely curate and group seascapes, landscapes, or similarly-themed still life paintings, too.

“The Lady Room”

Instagrammer Audrey Sprinkle of @theblackhouseonthecorner calls this formal living room filled with mid-century portraits “The Lady Room,” and it’s her favorite space in the house. “Odds are high that one of these girls does in fact run the world (it’s me I’m on this wall 😉)” she captioned an Instagram post back in February.

No frame, no problem!

Etsy vendor Robin Sweeney’s vintage-collecting skills are seriously admirable — in fact, she found the sofa above for just $17! The portraits in her living room, which she calls her “fake family,” mostly come from estate sales and flea markets. “Sometimes you get lucky at the thrift store or a garage sale,” she says. “Heather Felder is an artist on IG and paints girls’ faces. They’re not vintage, but they’re unbelievable.” If you look closely, you’ll notice that Robin has the perfect hack for any unframed portraits you might find: Binder clips will do just fine for hanging.

Start with one and build from there

Designer Jessica Blue of Jessica Blue Interiors likes to think of a theme for a gallery wall before putting any nails in the wall. “In the instance of my dining room portrait wall, I found an amazing portrait… while traveling in Mexico, and upon arriving in the states I was on the hunt for more portrait art at all my local thrift and antique stores to complete the puzzle,” she says.

Work a staircase display

Michelle Gage, an interior designer based in the Philadelphia area, likes to place vintage portraits in her home and many of the rooms she designs, and she grouped several of them to add color and charm to this white stairwell. She found these canvases at the famous Brimfield Antique Market in Massachusetts.

Credit: Robyn Donaldson

Shop your own home

Robyn Donaldson, who blogs at allupinmyspace.com, adorned the golden walls in her spare bedroom with black, white, and tan portraits to create an eccentric-but-not-overwhelming look. The best part? She did it using existing art in her home. “There’s no better kind of shopping than shopping your home. It’s thrifty, fun, and makes you appreciate the things you have anew,” she said on Instagram in a caption. Three of the paintings from her portrait wall were borrowed from elsewhere in the house. “And you know what, both the spaces are better for it,” Robyn says. “As is my bank balance.”

Attic treasures

What is it about dark blue walls that makes portraits pop? It just works. Instagrammer Kaylyn Montanye (Our_Rose_Cottage) found this collection by digging through her in-law’s attic. “It was a dusty job but well worth it!” she says. “My husband’s grandfather, Everett Rose, was an amazing painter, and most of the portraits on our wall were found in one of his old portfolios. I also love checking out the shops when I visit a museum; they usually have a great collection of prints. Some of the portraits I use in my house are my own paintings as well. And, of course, I spend as much of my spare time as possible in local thrift stores, searching for unique frames and works of art.”

Whether from a flea market, a foreign country, or a grandfather-in-law’s attic, portraits — even if those portraits are of perfect strangers — make great, affordable building blocks for gallery walls, and they allow plenty of personality to shine through literally. You can collect portraits that remind you of people or characters you love, or you can curate a set of faces that become familiar to you over time.