how to set up a renter friendly + budget friendly diy gallery wall
Hello! I wanted to walk you through the process of creating your own gallery wall from finding prints to using renter friendly command strips to hang them up. It's a super imple process so let's get started!
DISCLAIMER: Some links may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product with the below links, I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for your support!
selecting your art
You can purchase art prints on Etsy or from other small print businesses but I went for the cheaper route, aka FREE. First, you’ll need to find some public domain prints. There are several websites that provide public domain prints including museum websites, shutter stock, etc. I used the Metropolitan museum’s page because it is super easy to sort through and find images that I liked. You can sort through by era, style, and more and you can search for keywords like “landscape” to find specific prints you may like.
You can also get all my prints and a sizing guide for FREE when you sign up for my newsletter below!
printing your art
Before you send your images to print, I recommend checking the image quality. I used the pixel chart available through Nations Photo Lab to do this. You can upload your image to their pixel chart and you will get recommendations on the best print size for that image and the maximum size you can print it while still maintaining its quality. That way, you don’t send an image to print and it comes out pixelated or low quality. If you already have frames, you would just need to match the print size to each frame. Otherwise, you can print each image to whatever size you’d like and then purchase a frame to go with each print. For printing, I used Walgreens, but you can use any photo printing service. If you use Walgreens, I recommend waiting for a holiday as discounts are offered during these times so you can get your prints for even cheaper. I originally wanted to print on matte paper but only glossy was available at the time so I did my own DIY to give my prints a matte effect.
framing your art
Once you have your prints, you’re ready to start framing them. Since all my frames were thrifted, I had some not so conventional sizes. To remedy this, I printed the image in as close to the size as I could and then trimmed the image to fit the frame. So for example, if I had a frame that was 8 x 9, I printed an 8 x 10 image and trimmed it to fit the correct size. If you like the look of a framed picture with a mat, you can purchase some precut mats at Hobby Lobby or make your own from mat board you can find at Michaels. I personally wanted mine to look like paintings so I left them out except for one that already had a mat. For all my frames, I removed the glass to give it a more real canvas look and so they would be lighter to hang up later with the command strips.
hanging your art
Once your prints, are in their frames, you’re ready to start hanging. First, you’ll want to plan your layout. I laid out my frames on the floor to get an idea of what I wanted to go where and to see how prints and frames looked next to each other. You can also do the same thing on Canva to play around with the layout of your prints. Once I had a general idea of how I wanted to place the frames, I made cutouts of each frame so I could test the placement directly on the wall. For this, I used some paper I had from old packages but you can use craft paper or whatever paper you have laying around. Trace your frame directly onto the paper and cut it out so you have a paper the size of each of your frames. Feel free to label each paper so you know what print or frame it matches up to. Then with a little tape, stick them onto your wall in the layout you had planned. You can play around with your layout here to see what fits best and what gallery wall shape you like. Once you have your layout finalized, it's time to prep your frames for hanging. I used the medium and large command strips for hanging frames. Prep the strips per the instructions on the packing, then place them on the backs of your frames. If you have some thinner frames, you can also cut the command strips in half to better fit the frames. I started on the left of my gallery wall where I had one print that I knew wanted to be in a specific location. Otherwise, you can start wherever. Remove the backings off the command strips, take off the cut out, and use a level to place your frame. Press firmly into place. Command strips recommend that you remove the frame to allow the strips to adhere to the wall but I find that it's difficult to remove them and they stick just fine without this extra step. Place all your frames and you’re done!
some additional tips
• mix up prints that are in portrait and landscape orientation to add variety and movement to your gallery wall
• try different textures: I used oil paintings, sketches, and watercolor paintings
• play around with scale: use frames of varying sizes to make your gallery wall unique
• your prints don't have to match perfectly but it's nice when you maintain a color palette
• frames also do not have to match perfectly but try to space out like colored frames and add similar tones and textures (for example, I used two of each "type" of frame: two gold, two dark wood, and two white washed wood)
The beauty of this renter friendly + budget hack is that it's super adaptable. If you find a new print you like more, you can swap them out for cheap and you can even change the layout of your gallery wall in the future. I started out with a simple gallery wall because I’m hoping to find some more thrifted frames in the future to build onto my gallery. It’ll be fun watching the gallery wall slowly transform.
I used 6 frames and each was thrifted for under $5. All the prints together were under $13. I bought a pack of 28 command strips for $19 but I only used about half. In total, not counting the DIY I did on the prints, the gallery wall came out to around $50. Let's say you buy your frames at Ikea for $10 each that would be $60 on just frames! So you can definitely save a lot of money by thrifting your frames and printing your own images.
If you’re more of a visual person, you can watch the video explaining the whole process below.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me a DM on instagram and I’d be happy to help!
And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive all my prints and a sizing guide for FREE!