“Above all, a grouping should instill curiosity,” says designer Anne-Marie Barton. “A collage wall of gathered items should tell your personal story—the places you’ve been, items you admire, quotes you live by, things that inspire you.” Barton fashions her groupings to fascinate, and she offers the following tips for creating similarly expressive and engaging gallery walls of your own. 

Creating gallery walls
Photography by Scot Zimmerman

1. Place the most important piece first. Don’t center the most focal image, but rather incorporate it into the visual layers nicely. Lay it on the floor and build around it before moving the entire group to your wall. Invite a second set of eyes to help you create your composition. 

2. Identify at least one unique element that will unify your collection and repeat it within the grouping. A recurring color, framing type, material, art medium, subject matter or overall style can each serve as a common denominator that makes a display feel cohesive and inviting. 

Photography by Scot Zimmerman

3. Everything doesn’t have to be high-end. Fine art partners beautifully with informal finds and treasures.

4. Create a display mix, from ornate framing to simply tacking or taping a piece of art on the wall. Consider options beyond traditional frames. Lucite boxes, for example, add depth and dimension while, in contrast, unframed pieces casually lay flat against the wall. 

Creating gallery walls
Photography by Scot Zimmerman

5. When creating a collage, place pieces closely together or even overlap them to create a single focal point. Don’t feel driven to cover an entire wall. Be creative—collages are about you and should be eclectic and personal, including anything from flea-market finds to book pages.

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. “A grouping may not be perfect the first time,” Barton explains. “Above all, feel free to move pieces around as you add more over time.”


If you’re looking for a unique place to display your gallery wall, look no further than your home’s stairwell.