Gallery walls are brilliant, aren’t they? Few decorating techniques are as effective in infusing a space with character and providing a landing spot for the eye. And they just look so damn amazing, which is why we keep revisiting the notion and showing you ideas that we find especially inspiring.
A look that’s becoming increasingly notable is the maximalist gallery wall: an eccentric and dramatic homage to stately piles (all that Downton Abbey binge-watching and those lavish Merchant Ivory / Ang Lee / Joe Wright period movies) as well as whimsical bohemian interiors where more is more and flouting the rules of restraint is a rebellion against prescribed good taste and off-the-shelf interior formulas. A contemporary gallery wall is your licence to be eclectic: think a mix of frames; a couple of pictures tacked up with washi tape or unframed canvases; different art mediums from oils and watercolours to posters, postcards, photographs and prints; the addition of shadow boxes and skulls and mirrors, fabric banners and hanging plants.
This is important: you don’t want too many heavy, gilt frames for this sort of look; as much as the inspiration might be the halls of Hogwarts, Pemberley, Downton and Howard’s End, the end result will be far too heavy and stilted. When it comes to an effective maximalist gallery wall composition, think floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall – you want very little background space, just enough to allow the pictures to have a teeny bit of a breather from their neighbours so the feeling is cluttered and interesting but not claustrophobic.
I also personally wouldn’t do more than one maximalist gallery space per room so as to allow that to be the main event – though I would carry the look through to two, maybe three (at a push) spaces in the house: definitely a passage, entrance space or living room wall; probably in the kitchen; an awkward alcove is an option; I like the idea of filling a narrow wall space between a interior door and a window frame; a bedroom; and most definitely a bathroom (think of it as a public service, giving your guests something interesting to look at while they’re otherwise engaged). Oh, and don’t discount a maximal gallery wall if your space is very small – it’s surprisingly expanding, not restraining. A couple of riffs on the idea… 1) Smaller frames and pictures 2) Only one style of painting, for example flea-market and vintage botanical oil paintings 3) Only portraiture (but in many different mediums and colours palettes) 4) mostly monotone with a few pops of colour scattered in between. Go on, enough reading, now feast your eyes…