Step by Step Guide for Planning and Hanging a Collage Wall

Oct 28, 2019

Okay, so you've decided to hang a wall collage on some part of your vast, empty drywall.

Now, what? 

I remember being in my 20's in my very first apartment, and deciding exactly that.

"I'm going to do a gallery wall above my sofa! It's going to be organic, and collected, and uniquely awesome."

Fast forward to 2 days later after a trip to the flea market with my Mom and I felt so frustrated and overwhelmed I quit the gallery wall and found some wooden and metal thing from Pier One to hang above my sofa instead. (Don't judge me. This was circa 2005.) 

Thank Goodness I'm no longer in my 20's and thank goodness I've finally nailed the formula for building the perfect wall collage in a home. Let's break this down with a tutorial! 

Steps to Hanging a Collage Wall

Step 1: Think about Size and Scale. 

Now that you know you want to do a collage wall, think about how much space on the wall you'd like the collage to cover. It's ideal if for the items to cover about 2/3 of the open space. (If you're hanging your collage above a sofa, then make sure at least 2/3 of the space centered over the sofa is full of items. At very least, cover 1/2 of the overall open space.)

Step 2. Buy New Frames. Gather existing items. 

Now take a trip to Target (or your favorite affordable frame store) and buy a variety of frames to fill the amount of wall space you identified above would be ideal.  Always a good idea to take a tape measure with you!

It's better to over-buy in a variety of sizes so that you have plenty to play with! 

I love adding organically shaped objects to a collage to change things up and add some visual interest. The gold turtle shell tray I used is from Target, but you could look anywhere, even around your own house! 

If you're incorporating some vintage treasures into your wall, yay for you! Do some thinking about what additional new pieces you'd like to add to your collage wall, and how they will work together. In particular think closely about your new frame choices, and head to Pinterest for some inspiration of what works best. 

Step 3. Arrange art on the floor and take a picture.

Play around with the frames and art on the floor next to the wall. It may be helpful to use painters tape on the floor to represent the area you're trying to cover. This will ensure your art is perfectly to scale on your big blank wall. 

🗝Make sure to keep your frames 2" apart, or less from one another.  If your items are too spaced apart it will look like separate islands floating on the wall instead of one cohesive unit. 

Once your happy with your layout on the floor, take a picture of it with your phone so that you can reference it later! 

Step 4. Choose art for frames.

If you do not yet have art for some frames then this is the time to choose it!  Etsy is a great source for inexpensive and quick art. You can buy a .jpg and then have it printed yourself at Staples, which is a very affordable option. Look at this blog for our suggested Etsy Shops with awesome prints.

🗝If you're feeling stumped, just start selecting things you like from Etsy or another poster or printable site, and inserting them into a power point slide as shown below. This is a stress free way to play around with what might look best in your now-arranged frames! 

The sizing won't be perfectly to scale, but you can just insert frames and art at an approximate size and scale to your room to give you the ability to play around and see how things will look when your wall is complete. 


Step 5. Trace the frame or objects onto large paper and tape to the wall.

Trace your frames onto any old wrapping paper or newspapers you have on hand, and using the photograph from your phone for a reference, tape the wrapping paper to the wall where each item should go. 

🗝Make sure not to hang your art too high. Art should be eye level when standing, not above your head. The center of a collage wall should be 4' - 4.5' from the floor. When it is too high it feels awkward because it is disjointed from the room. 

Step 6. Put nails straight through the paper for hanging

Measure where on the frame the hooks are, then use a sharpie to mark on the wrapping paper where the nails should go. Next, put the nail right through the paper, hang the art to make sure it hangs straight (use a level for precision) and then take off the wrapping paper.

Now you have a beautiful collage wall that welcomes people to enjoy your space!


Happy (art) Hanging and Happy Hosting! XO

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