Massing art for display can have an impact larger than the sum of its parts.
The bonus of designing a gallery wall is the dramatic impact that one can create with very little financial outlay. If you do have a collection of Dutch oils or Matisse lithographs, by all means, mass. But if you don’t, you can achieve a great look with black-and-white photos that you have taken yourself. Piles of pictures of your family up a stair or down a long hall can be a delightful way to showcase your loved ones without the formality of a staged portrait.
There are loads of simple frames from many of the big-box retailers. Pottery Barn has clean, good-looking frames in black, white and stained finishes. CB2 offers glossy yellow and aqua. Exposures has a nice selection of painted frames in steel blue, persimmon, brick and pink. I’ve purchased from all three, and the corner joints are well-matched, which creates an overall custom look. If you have something other than a standard-size picture or memento to showcase, any local framer will be happy to cut a mat to fit.
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Along this line, think outside the constraints of traditional wall art. A collection of matchbooks or corks or menus can create a colorful and charming display that reminds you of treasured memories and tells your guests something about you, too.
Local antique dealers, thrift stores and flea markets are great sources for vintage frames. Bamboo is a personal favorite, as is tramp art. Small bulls’-eye mirrors or larger sunbursts can be strong components for attracting the eye and reflecting light. Brackets to hold a piece of pottery, a collection of vintage toy soldiers or your souvenir Eiffel Tower are other likely finds.