How to Get Rid of the Big Blank Wall

This week, I’m welcoming my friend Heather from Catch a Star Fine Art Photography!  She’s my go-to gal when I’m stuck with how to display my photos.  Below you’ll find an article she wrote just for you so that you can proudly display your amazing photographs!  Check out her gorgeous selection of fine art photography when you’re looking for additional art to mix with your own photos.

Here’s Heather!

I bet I know what you have in your house.

Maybe it’s in the entryway. Or perhaps it stares at you every time you step into the living room. It could even live in your home office.


It’s a stark wall of nothing when you enter your home.
It’s an expanse of creamy paint over a comfy sofa, just waiting for something interesting.
It’s a small-but-cute space above your office desk, perfect for displaying things that make you happy.
And it’s EMPTY because you can’t decide what the heck to put there, am I right?

Trust me, I’ve been there.

I’ve tried to decide between paintings, family portraits, my own art photography prints, and a myriad of other options that I could use to make our home a reflection of our style and taste.

But maybe you don’t have to choose.

You can create a Gallery Wall. Whether it’s family portraits, great prints from Etsy, or your own photos as you up your photography game, a gallery wall can include a variety of items.

While you might decide to have family pictures on the casual walls of the basement TV room, and a more formal arrangement of art in your living room, it’s very possible to combine portraits and art prints in the same display – and the results can be interesting and match any decor with a little planning.

The key to creating a Gallery Wall that WORKS is having some attribute of all of the pieces that is the same.

You need something to tie your art together. For example, you could use images that:

  • are the same size or orientation – for example, all square 10x10s.
  • are all color, or all black and white – the frames may be different but the prints are a unifying factor
  • are in the same frames – such as 2 inch black frames
  • have the same general style or theme – maybe they’re all rustic, or all beachy
  • all contain a certain color

As long as you have something that connects the pieces, you’re going to be fine!

Here are a few examples using some of my own family portraits and art photography…..

In this collection, different sizes and orientations of photos are pulled together by beach theme and black & white printing…..

Personalize a nature theme by using outdoor portraits with artistic leaf prints. In this collection, all of the images have the same size, orientation, and framing. The colors are complementary, and the alternating layout keeps things balanced.

This mix of color and black & white urban images is cohesive because of the identical neutral frames and the mix of images – the portraits are in color, and the architectural shots are black & white. There’s a lot going on with this many varied photos, but the uniform square frames and spacing makes it a fun focal point in this simple dining space.

In this final example, these family images were taken at a fun, rustic, casual outdoor area with weathered buildings as backdrops. The vintage doors mirror the texture in the portrait backgrounds, and the colors are cohesive.


So where do you begin to create your own unique wall display?

First – read my ebook!

Think about what you like

  • Do you like things simple? Prefer the symmetry of all square prints? Do you want to show off lots of images, or just a few? Are you a fan of matted prints or canvas? Like matching frames or prefer to mix it up?
  • There is no right or wrong, so while you want to coordinate what you’re hanging to the ‘feel’ of your space, this is YOUR HOME and it should be a reflection of what you care about.  Do include the images and art that bring you joy.

Think about what you’re trying to include

  • What kind of frames you have? Do they match? Do you want to do a display from one single vacation, or include a favorite from each beach vacation since your kids were born? Is the room very modern and you want to use urban images to complement that? Is the space casual, and perfect for displaying silly pictures that otherwise might not have a wall to live on?
  • Have a theme or ‘feel’ for the space you’re decorating. If it’s already a comfy room with muted colors, think about whether you want to keep that relaxed vibe, or use your gallery wall to add splashes of color. There’s no right or wrong.

Lay it out.

  • Yes, physically lay the design out! You might think you can eyeball it, but the odds are you’ll be disappointed in the results if you wing it. Get out the tape measure and take a few minutes to plan.
  • Measure the space you’re working with – for example, a standard 3-seat couch is 84 inches wide. Will your display look best if it stays within the width of the couch? (It’s your house, not mine, but the answer is yes it probably will 🙂 ) Consider the height of your ceilings to determine the vertical space you’re working with.
  • Two easy methods for envisioning your layout are –
  1. Use masking tape to mark out your gallery wall space on a clear area of your floor. Put frames and prints down and move things around until you have a layout that works. I used this method when arranging items I was hanging in my front entryway which has a 12 foot ceiling.
  2. Cut out newspaper or kraft paper in the sizes of your pieces of art. Don’t forget to include the frame size! Tape the pieces on the wall, stand back and see how it looks!

Finally – go for it!

  • I know some husbands may disagree (*ahem* mine ) but once you’ve got your layout figured out, dive in.
  • If you’ve used the newspaper method, leave those papers up on your wall and hammer the nails right through them to get the placement right, then pull the paper away.
  • It is only a few tiny nail holes in the drywall. Don’t worry about it so much that you never get it done! You can even avoid holes altogether by using Command Strips Picture Hangers.

Here’s another example from my own home – my apologies for the poor cell phone pic! –  and this one shows you how eclectic it can be and still ‘work.’ By combining thick, rustic wood frames with a couple other wood items, I’ve combined family images spanning a number of years with my pineapple obsession.  (Pineapples, by the way, traditionally signify hospitality or welcome, so they are perfect for an entryway!)  Don’t be afraid to try things out and mix it up!

Your portraits and artwork deserve to be up on the wall where they can be viewed and enjoyed!

I hope these samples and ebook give you the confidence to tackle your own Big Blank Wall.