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How to Become a Pro at Mixing Art on Gallery Walls

Gallery walls are a great way to display all of the amazing works you’ve collected over the years. But one thing seems to trip people up; how to get mixing art on walls right. There can be so many colours, patterns and text to mesh together, that it often becomes a little overwhelming.

I’m coming to your rescue today to help you solve this dilemma. I’ve also pulled together some wicked imagery from Freedom (above) and Sheridan (all below) to help you understand how mixing art on gallery walls follows a bit of a formula. Hopefully by the end of this post you can put all of your artworks side-by-side and confidently pinpoint which pieces aren’t working

So let’s give mixing art on walls a crack!

floral art gallery wall in living room with blue sofa from sheridan

Easiest place to Start: Lock in one Mood

Every gallery wall should tell a story or evoke a mood. That’s the starting point for getting your wall right. Think about the vibe: is it playful, invigorating, moody, calm, serene, or graphic?

It might sound naff, but locking in the mood really is the best place to start, because it helps you develop the right colour palette and inturn put the right pieces of art together. (PS: If you’re looking for moody art this post has you covered).

The above picture illustrates this point perfectly. The vibe here is moody, cool, and a little calming. There is both floral photography and watercolour art together, but they both work because they evoke the same feeling.

Link Styles with a ‘Connector Piece’

You might think that the dark blue/black colour palette in the image above is why it works. That’s actually not the case. It works because of mood, firstly, but also because there is a piece of art in this cluster that pulls the two different styles of art on this wall together.

See the floral art second from the left? It is a watercolour artwork. This single piece connects the floral photography on the left to the watercolour striped art on the right of the wall.

So, you can mix different styles of art on a wall, but it helps to have them in a similar mood and to have a linking piece of art that ties the different styles together.

living room gallery wall with dark bllue and grey art from sheridan

If you Want to Mix Different Moods

When it comes to mixing art on walls, you can combine different colours and styles together. We covered off how to do that above. The other thing you can do is cluster art together that is of a different mood. It’s a little tricker to do, and I wouldn’t recommend placing more than two moods together on a small wall, or it’ll become haphazard.

Now let’s play a game…

The image above features one piece of art that I would take out off this cluster to make the wall work. Can you guess which one is it? It’s the black polka dot art in the gold frame. It is a third mood on this wall that doesn’t need to be there.

We have three nature illustrations on this wall which make up the first mood (the tree on the left, the feathers up top, and the blue and black leaf on the right). They’re simplistic but they’re eerie in a sense. They match the second style of art on the wall, which is essentially every other piece. The other pieces are eerie as well, so they make sense together.

The polka dot artwork is introducing a third mood. It’s quite punchy, playful and graphic. And it feels out of place here. It would feel more at home on a gallery wall with quote art on it.

TIP: lay art down side by side on your floor and step back to see how they play together. It’s at this point that one or two pieces will stand out as not belonging with the others.

mixing art on a gallery wall in living room from sheridan

How to Mix Frame Styles

The moods, colours and patterns and one thing, but the frames you put the art in can make or break the gallery wall. When it comes to mixing art on gallery walls, I recommend frames of a similar time period (either contemporary frames all together, or more vintage frames together). I very rarely see brand new frames mixed with old wooden frames. It just doesn’t feel cohesive.

Also look to mix art that takes up all the frame, some with borders and some box frames too. The variety is refreshing.

Size Matters!

When it comes to sizes of art, you should have a variety of large and smaller pieces together on the wall, but try not to have all the large ones on one end and the smaller ones on the other. The images in this post give you a good idea of how to successfully lay different sizes out.

If you need inspiration on different types of gallery walls, check out this post, which has 10.

The image above features a piece of art that doesn’t belong. Can you guess which one is it? Comment below and I’ll let you know if you’re right.

blue and grey bedroom ideas with sheridan bedding in navy blue and charcoal

What Third Artwork would you Place on the Wall Above?

Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought when it comes to mixing art on walls. Why not have a look at the image above and start to analyse what styles of art would and wouldn’t work here. It’s a good exercise and it should help you start to figure out what you can and can’t mix on your on walls at home.

Drop a comment below and let me know if you have any gallery wall questions.


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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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17 Responses

  1. I think the artwork which doesn’t belong is the square one with red and yellow flowers. It fits in with the nature theme running through all the works but seems incongruent with the moodiness of the other images.

  2. That red and yellow piece is the one that doesn’t fit?
    Thanks for this post, it’s really helpful. I have a large art nouveau piece waiting to hang, and I’ve been stuck on what to put with it, but maybe have some ideas now. Are there any rules about the proportions/sizes of what to mix and match? I imagine too great a difference in size won’t work, but similarly nothing should be too close in size, either?

    1. You’re right. Red and yellow is indeed the odd man out! Glad this post helped Jo. With Sizing, it’s more about the size of the wall than the size of the art. Obviously if you have one giant piece and quite small pieces around it, then it becomes the hero in the centre and the smaller artworks support it. Though I think clustering multiple sizes (where one size doesn’t stand out as the hero) is a better approach.

      The wall size is important though, because if it’s a huge space and you’re clustering just A4 pieces it they can feel quite dwarfed and too little. Whereas a smaller wall with a huge artwork and supporting clusters can be too much for the wall. It’s all about proportion.

  3. Is it possible to have a mood gallery wall with abstracts and botanicals and contemporary frames, and then opposite wall have a traditional scenery picture. I plan to use a few frames the same color as the traditional scenery picture.

    1. Anything is possible with some careful planning. Make sure your art ties together in at least one way. Whether that’s colour palettes or a style/theme. Abstract can read botanical, and scenery can too.

  4. Love this post. It is so helpful. I’m working at mixing some art on a few walls and only hope I can do it myself! One thing to look and understand! Another entirely to do it all alone!!

  5. I don’t know what to do. I have beautiful big pictures of angels in vintage-like, gold frames on dark teal walls. Now I’ve suddenly fallen in love and ordered bright colors, just freeform style… lots of aqua and hot pink and gold. The two styles are so different I don’t think they’re going to work. I don’t group everything because my walls are crazy.. but I love looking at all this prettiness!! What do I do? Help!!!

    1. Hey Cathy, that’s a tough one! Bit hard to give advice without looking at it. My best advice would be to get all the pieces on a table (or floor if too big) and see if you can find an arrangement that looks nice together.

  6. I’m no expert or who’s to say I have any taste. I buy what I like on first glance. Secondarily, I am moved by subject and color. Most if not all are people b/c it reps life and a study of people. My art is definitely ethnic. Don’t know about mood. Can’t I just arrange what I like?

    1. Hi Karen, absolutely! Interior design is for the home and the people living in it. You do what you like if it makes you happy. I’m just sharing some tips to help people out.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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