I find myself drawn to homes with gallery walls. I love how they convey a relaxed collected feeling. If you’re thinking you don’t have any fabulous art to work with — think again. It’s all about the mix.

image via slim paley

Take a painting you inherited and combine it with an etching from e-bay, a piece of metal sculpture and some black and white photography and you’re well on your way. This is one of my favourite gallery walls by talented Canadian interior designer Christine Ralphs. She designed this wall in her home using a variety of images, some purchased very inexpensively.

Images from March 2011 – Canadian House and Home magazine 

The black and white theme pulls together pieces that complement each other, without looking overly curated.

In Canadian House and Home editor Suzanne Dimma’s home, she’s also mixed black, natural wood and gold frames. What a welcoming space. Each piece seems to tell a story.

While visiting the offices of Hambly and Woolley in Toronto, I discovered this fresh gallery wall in graphic designer Barb Woolley’s office. Barb has impeccable taste and it shows throughout the company’s cool loft space. Her use of initials is charming.

At Hambly and Woolley, Barb and her husband artist Bob Hambly even have a gallery wall in their lunch room! Talk about inspiring creativity.

I visited artist/illustrator Alanna Cavanagh’s studio home earlier this year. I couldn’t take my eyes off the gallery/salon wall she created in her living room. Alanna used some of her own work (love her men’s brogue shoe), but added a variety of pieces and textures to create an interesting vibe.

image via smallshopstudio.com

I like the eclectic feeling in this space. The mix of textures from the furniture to the art makes it fresh and interesting. Again, I see that metal on the wall – it seems to be a key ingredient in many of the best gallery walls. Frames of different thicknesses and sizes really work.

image via The Paris Apartment

Here’s another vignette that beckons you to take a closer look. I do love dark moody walls but have to say white is one of the best choices for a gallery wall, as it lets you mix so many different colours and shapes without looking busy.

Image via Apartment Therapy 

So how do you get started? I think it really depends on the space, the ceiling height and the effect you’re going for. Some people lay their art on the floor and play with the arrangement. You can easily cut out newspaper or Kraft paper templates of each piece — taping them on the wall to see if you like the effect. Spacing between the frames usually varies from 2 to 4 inches – you’ll know what’s right when you stand back and squint. There really are no rules if you like the effect.

Elizabeth Sullivan via Modern 24/7 and smallshopstudio.com 

I tend to start with the largest piece in the middle and fan out from there, adding and subtracting until I’m happy with the look. Ideally if I’ve left enough room, I can keep adding pieces over time. The most creative gallery walls are truly personal — combining paintings with photography and personal treasures — anything from a framed mitten to an antique key. If you love it and it means something to you — use it.

Shake off the formality of symmetrical arrangements and design your own gallery wall. I’d love to see what you come up with.

image via Lonny