Wall Art: What’s Your Style ?

By Kate Riley May 12, 2010

Have you ever felt the frustration of a blank wall staring at you and you’re at a loss how to decorate it ?  Me to!  Where oh where do you begin?   I’m staring at the blank wall in our living room with the same dilemma.

I’ve shopped my house and pulled all sorts of different artwork, frames, and artifacts together.   Now, I am in the process of displaying it all in a cohesive way.  I’ve been gathering inspiration and carefully observing different styles.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d pose these questions to all of you:


1)  Do you prefer a wall display that is balanced

through symmetry and/or repetition ?

style court blue sofa Style Court

 white frames apt therapy Apartment Therapy

kishani perera botanicals in kitchen Kishani Perera

blue and gold via decorpad via Decorpad

sea whips bhg Better Homes and Gardens

 southern accents art in set of five Southern Accents

 ballard living room Ballard Designs

 veranda wall display Veranda

southern accents neutral room canopies Southern Accents


southern living wall of bw photos Southern Living


2)  Or does a hair salon style gallery wall appeal

to you ?


salon and hair stylist cooperation House Beautiful


gallery wall domino Domino


wall gallery southern accents Southern Accents


house beautiful gallery above kitchen sink House Beautiful


coastal living black frames Coastal Living


steven gambrel Steven Gambrel


diy ideas art and sofa DIY Ideas


nate-berkus-anne-coyle-elle-decor dark walls Nate Berkus/Elle Decor


pottery barn art displayPottery Barn


charlotte moss study house and garden Charlotte Moss/House and Garden


cottage living salon wall Cottage Living

isabella and max rooms chalkboard wall Isabella and Max Rooms


bhg art arrangement Better Homes and Gardens

 apt therapy gallery wall Apartment Therapy


pottery barn gallery wall Pottery Barn


I’ve done symmetrical frame displays in my office and daughter’s room, but for my living room, I’m truly liking the appeal of a gallery or salon wall that looks collected over time.

And I do love this idea by Better Homes & Gardens to tape paper to the wall to test proportion and spacing before you start pounding holes !

bhg arranging art Better Homes and Gardens


Have you made a statement with art on a wall in your home ?   Do you prefer a symmetrical grid like display, or a more asymmetrical and whimsical salon style gallery ?  Got a link to a fabulous wall art display?  Do share, I could use more inspiration while I tackle this project !




  1. Sorry none to share…yet. But I am amassing for a salon style gallery wall in my bedroom. I think they’re much more interesting, whimsical, surprising even! It will be great to see what you do…you pretty well always get it right!!

  2. I’m a balance and symmetry person, generally. My husband loves a salon style gallery wall. It’s kind of interesting to go from room to room in our house and see both of those influences. The one place I have a collected-over-time look going is on the wall where I display a collection of crosses–those ARE in fact collected over time, and it’s fun to add to them. But even there, I keep the arrangement pretty balanced around a large central mirror. I never just add one to one side of the mirror–always wait ’til I have two to add so I can have one for each side. Maybe I’m TOO much into symmetry!

    Good luck with your wall!

  3. Good question! As much as I admire people who can do that “collected” look, I make it look like my 2 year old duct taped a bunch of stuff to the wall. :s I think I must be a balance and symmetry girl. ;) Years ago, I saw Martha Stewart visit on Oprah and she used the kraft paper example. I thought that was the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen. I use newspaper when I don’t have kraft paper on hand. :)

  4. Yes! I love symmetry and I also love the “collected” look where the art seems to fill the wall but I have not tried it yet. We are trying to get a house so I hope that I can give it a try at our new place but I am also afraid it will look like an elementary school art hallway with random things taped to the walls. I think that I need to get over that fear and be free!

  5. While I like the look of symmetry, I can’t hang anything straight and even to save my life. I LOVE the causalness of gallery style…the randomness appeals to me.

    I am definitely trying the paper trick when we move and I have to face the overwhelming task of hanging pictures again! Hubs tends to just get mad at me and start hanging things up.

  6. I neeeed symmetry, but I do not like a grid. I like a salon-style, but mostly on walls that you pass by, like a stairwell or hall. For a wall that can be viewed from a distance, its got to be somewhat balanced to satisfy my physical need for symmetry. Sorry, no examples to share with the class, I don’t actually practice my fickle ways in real life, just in my head or vicariously through you.

  7. I have both-for my formal spaces (living room, dining room) it’s all very symmetrical, in an upper hallway and in my family room I’ve gone “wild”. (Not really-it’s more sheer laziness-didn’t want to wait for my husband to help me make it look “neat”, so I just randomly placed things!) I like both looks. My mother in law has a lot of “stuff” and the gallery look all over her home-and while I think it’s kind of cool, I also feel sort of claustrophobic sometimes. But then again, that may just be a whole ‘nother story!

  8. Thanks for putting these all together! I’m also currently working on a wall space, so your post couldn’t come at a more perfect time for me. I like both, however, I really like it when the frames don’t match but seem to form a perfect circle/square/rectangle on the outside. Does that make sense? You have the wild because frames (and sizes) don’t match, but you also have the symmetry element because looking at the whole still gives the appearance of clean lines. Good luck! I can’t wait to see what you decide on!

  9. I am definitely a symetric girl! I wish I could switch it up a bit, but I always bring back the symetry! Have a great day!

  10. Salon style looks so unorganized and somewhat “messy” to me. Mind mind is very logical and orderly so it makes sense that I would like a gallery that is symmetrical. But I think it is possible to do a combination of both.

  11. Thank you for this post! I am currently dealing with my master bedroom, which has high ceilings and tons of pale-blue gray wall and I have NO CLUE what to do with it. I found this post very inspiring and think I will get creative this very weekend!

  12. This is a very interesting question, Kate. I’ve always thought that everyone approaches displaying artwork, the same way I do. Accidental – on purpose, meaning, the mini art centres evolve over time, as a result of travel, etsy purchases, souvenirs, inspiration boards, etc. They are not thought through, but rather spontaneously fit the mood of the space, like a diy dried leaves artwork in the hallway, B&W framed old family pictures, the collection of small water colors my mother-in-law created, some beautiful pics depicting our great family moments, or beautiful stand-alone large oil painting as a main focal point in the living room. Turns out, there is another way too, deliberate, measured, symmetrical – gotta try this some time. Thank you for sharing.

  13. I like the clean cut lines of the symmetrical. I think it looks more chic, where as the other look is definitely more vintage or farmhouse look. So I guess the question would be… what style are you trying to go for? Classy chic, or vintage farmhouse?

  14. I like symmetry for a lot of things, but for photo collections, I really like the gallery look. However, I definitely need my frames and photos to match. The only gallery photo that really appealed to me in your collection, was the final one from PB. The frames complimented each other well, and didn’t look haphazard like it some of the others.

  15. I like both, and have done both in our home – it just depends on the feel that you are going for in the space. Thanks for putting this together – a lot of very inspiring images from both sides of the coin!

  16. I love the looks of both…but in my home the salon style works a little better… first I’m just not that good with precision and second, I’m just too eclectic for all that order… but I sure do love looking at pictures of both. Thanks for another great post.

  17. Generally I like symetry especially with a grouping of the same style of images. I do adore that hallway wall by Gambrel. Come to my site to see my latest art…


    Art by Karena

  18. Balance and symmetry here! Must have clean lines, balance… need balance in my chaotic life! lol

  19. I actually really love them both. If I had more artwork, I would love to do salon style in my dining room/library.

    I always lay my wall art out on the floor below where it will be hung in order to get a better idea of how it will look on the wall. That way I can move it around a dozen times if I like and not have made any holes in my wall. I’ll even take pics if I’m really unsure!

  20. Thanks for including the chalkboard art wall in my husband’s office as one of your inspirations!! Don’t I feel honored! Janell

  21. Wow! All of these fantastic pictures will help me with my gallery wall! Thanks for posting all of them!

  22. Most of my walls are covered with pictures of my girls. I love the Salon Style (didn’t know it had a name, LOL). I keep my frames in black wood and then I can add to it as I need or want to. I have a problem taking old picutes down, to cute to remember how they were and what they have become. I guess I am just a symmetrical person.

  23. Ooo! I have a salon wall. (I just found out from another blogger friend that that’s what it’s called.) I do like the symmetrical ones too, though.

  24. I like a combination of both- hang multiple pictures on a wall in a cluster but make the outside edges line up into a giant rectangle and the interior edges can be staggered and mismatched. That way it’s clean and nice from far away but up close it feels more informal. The Apartment Therapy example is kind of what I mean but it’s too perfect- there are too many frames that are all the same size.

  25. I prefer symmetry myself. I am also a big believer in “less is more” and leaving blank spaces for the eye to “rest” rather than filling up the entire wall..looking at those filled-to-the-max walls makes me jumpy for some reason!

  26. I’m an anal organizer myself, but I love the look of a salon style gallery wall. It appears so personaland they’re easy to add to. The wall can grow with memories over time.

  27. I didn’t know it had a name, but gallery style seems far more open and playful to me (as long as you feel ‘open and playful’ is a good thing). Symmetry can seem a little lifeless, and really irritating if any frames are slightly off.

    A very useful post – how on earth did you gather all the photos?

  28. oooh I like both but feel that the symetrical look is much more clean and soothing… and the stylistic more interesting… possibly more of a conversation piece. I have been holding onto the link to this wall collage for a while now from two little dicky birds: http://twolittledickybirds.blogspot.com/2010/03/love-love-love-this-i-think-i-must.html- I love the different colors and the use of just pretty frames without any inserts. And this one from Young House Love: http://www.younghouselove.com/2010/04/nursery-progress-adding-some-art/

    Maybe some more inspiration for you!!

  29. Eek! This is my current biggest obsession! I talk about it nonstop. :) It’s salon style all the way for me. You’ve posted some of my favorites here and I’ll have to save the rest for my collection.

  30. I can love and appreciate asymmetry in other peoples homes. But for me and my crazy, chaotic life, I like the balance, order and harmony of symmetry.

  31. I’ve always considered myself someone who has to have everything balanced–preferably in threes. But after looking at some of the gallery style inspiration shots, I think I could pull off that look in my living room without going to OCD over it all.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  32. I am more of a symmetrical kind of gal. But I don’t like too much. I like a few pieces of art on the wall more than a whole wall covered in art. But that’s just me. :)
    I know you will come up with the perfect solution for your wall!

  33. Depends on the room, but I’m loving the salon style right now. I’m planning on using it in both the office and along the stairway in my home.

  34. I definately prefer the symmetrical look. It seems more chic and… intentional, but in a good way. It looks great to mix shapes though – like the pics with the differently shaped mirrors in the center of the display. The one by Ballard Designs is gorgeous! Hmm… do I have a big enough wall in my living room to do that look???

  35. I like the look of symentary and the mix and mash of an art wall they both appeal to me in different settings.

  36. I’m in the process of discovering a finished wall for myself. So far this is all I have: http://www.domesticdaiquiri.com/?p=165 It can go either way at this point, and I’m considering putting smaller frames inside the current ones. But first, I need to collect more frames. One trip out and I only found the three, so I’ll have to commit to another jaunt or two! :)

    I would love any ideas you have for me to finish off my wall!

  37. Normally a very symmetrical kind of person, I asked an artist friend to help us hang the pictures gallery style in our old living room (altho I didn’t know that’s what it was called at the time) because there was no way we could put such an odd assortment of frame sizes in a symmetrical format. I ended up LOVING what she did. And wishing she could come visit and help in our new living room!!!

  38. i like the idea of it all being symmetrical and even and level because im a perfectionist, but in reality im drawn to the gallery style. because i know that i wouldnt have to worry about one side matching the other :) and that equals less stress for me! i especially love the DIY Ideas one, with the yellow sofa.

  39. There was a time when I would have said, “Give me symmetry or give me death!” but nowadays a more unstructured salon-type arrangement is much more my style. It’s much more forgiving and the rigidity of a symmetrical design just feels too formal. I am SO not formal! :)

  40. Wow! I am in this very predictcament! lol So, you seem to be a frame lover like myself! I am going to be taking some of these fab ideas you posted and come up with a wall of my own! Thanks for the inspiratioon! ;)

  41. I’m facing the same problem with the living room, which is visible from the kitchen. Over the table in the kitchen we have a gallery style display of homemade postcards that my husband and I sent to each other when we were dating. So I feel like I need ONE big piece for the living room wall so that it’s not tons of tiny little things everywhere, right? My solution for 11 months: leave it blank. :(

  42. Although I enjoy these styles and they are obviously well done, for me, I prefer one oversized and dramatic piece to all of the smaller collections. Maybe they are, in the end, just too busy for me. Fun that we don’t all go for the same look.

  43. I like the gallery wall the best. I’m actually in the process of doing it myself. I’ve already traced my frames and cut the paper now I just need to starting sticking them to the wall. I’ve decided to do it in my entryway and master bedroom. To tie it all together I’m using the same off white color on the frames and I may add a plate or something round to mix it up. I’ll send the pics when it’s complete. Ok, now I’m even more motivated to get that little project complete!

  44. I like both. When I do arrangements on our walls, I always start out thinking I am going to take a gallery style approach. By the time I am done, it is more symmetrical.

    I am working on arranging family photos up our stairway. I am shooting for a gallery look, but I am betting it will be symmetrical by the time I am done!

  45. I do both. Even in the same room . . . Over my dresser I have pretty scrapbook paper laid out in rows, similar to your first picture. And across the room over my bed I have shadowboxes and shelves sort of zig-zagged. But I think overall I’m more of a symmetrical person. It’s my type A personality. ;-)

  46. I love the look of both, although some can be overly done and really make you want to hurl because of how busy they get. It depends on the room and what it is you are displaying…I think, personally. I like the look of the gallery wall, best, and if it incorporates a mix of varying size picture frames and other items, such as a mirror, floating shelf, plate, etc.

  47. Symmetry! Which is funny, because I would not consider myself a stickler for order, but for some reason I find the salon style too distracting to enjoy the actual art work itself.

  48. My one rule about art is it needs to mean something to me. Either it a photo that I took (or someone I know), or art that I LOVE. Maybe it’s something I picked up on vacation or during a special occasion. I’ve never been disappointed if I follow that rule! I’m in love with the gallery walls, but in my house I tend to go with symmetry. I’m SWOONING over that last photo in the symmetry section from Southern Living.


  49. I like the “salon style” — just have no idea how to get it started! My blank wall is crying for help, too.

  50. I made a collage wall in my bedroom that sits behind the door and above my chest of drawers in an alcove so it doesnt make me room feel over whelming when you first see it. It consists of all sorts of random stuff from ticket stubs to photographs of friends to things out of magazines so things that hold strong emotional value.

    To see it visit my cutoutandkeep profile here :

  51. Symmetrical, for sure – but that’s mostly because it’s easier than salon-style! I like the look of salon-style, but am so intimidated by choosing frames that go together but don’t match, and then figuring out how to space them so the display looks intentional and not messy. All that seems to require more patience than I have right now!

  52. I kind of “stole” from you today…or at least, I referenced your post in my blog. While encouraging people to follow your blog. I haven’t published the post yet, but I just wanted to let you know that I like this post. SO much that I wanted to reference it on my blog. Props.

  53. I love both looks, a gallery style seems more like home to me. In my house I could not decide or make it work so I painted a extra-extra large oil on canvas and it turn out better than I thought it would.

  54. I saw your sneak peek on twitter! One word….LOVE!

    I actually like both types of walls but think symetry is the way to go for me because its easier;-) I’m working on one for my bedroom now. Found frames at Michaels for CHEAP! Woot Woot!

    Have a great night doll!

  55. I love both kinds too; symmetry seems easier to to do (assuming your frames all have similar hanging hardware in the back), but the salon style is gorgeous when it works.

    I did the latter above my piano and was surprised how well it turned out.

  56. I love the gallery wall idea and your treament is exceptionally nice. I don’t think we’ll have one though…my husband doesn’t really like to put holes in our plastered walls.

  57. I’m like both but for my own home I went the symmetrical route. I like straight lines and edges. So that’s what I did for this huge bare wall near my front door. Ironically me and Hubs weren’t very methodical with our plan to hang them so don’t look too close at all the nail holes. :P 2 hours later my Hubs almost filed for divorce. HA HA. Right now I’m doing the fun part. Printing out pictures! Good luck with your gallery wall. :)


  58. I used a bunch of different frames that I have collected through the years from thrift shops and antique stores and hung them randomly on the wall over our sofa. I united them my using crisp white matts and family photos in sephia tone. The outcome was DEEEEElightful :)

  59. Symmetry is great – but too many repeating patterns are overkill for me :) I like the one off look – a large piece with a number of smaller pieces to one side of it that are aligned perfectly.

    Also, beehive hangers work great if you’re hanging many pieces that absolutely have to be straight.

    Juliane Evans

  60. Symmetry for sure!! I get very antsy when things aren’t lined up. Otherwise I want to walk around and straighten everything…which I do constantly at my house. :)

  61. I am probably boring but I am symmetry through and through. Whenever I see the gallery style I have an overwhelming urge to rearrange. It just looks messy to me.

  62. I prefer symmetry, but in limited amounts. A wall that is covered in photos, artwork or framed objects feels suffocating to me. It needs to be balanced with some open space to keep it from being visually too busy.

  63. I understand that but where does it take us?
    What happens if you get scared half to death twice? :)

  64. I don’t mind the salon style…but I like all the frames to have something in common-usually color, but could be just style in general…

  65. To be perfectly honest… I really like the brown paper! I think I may actually just do that in my home. (Don’t judge me! haha)

  66. I used to feel I like asymethry, but stayed at a place recenlty that had a lot of that going on and got pretty close to re-arranging things for them (not cool) .. I guess it’s not for me, or it has to be well thought to look right..

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