Truth: if you read The Chalkboard and have never heard of Free People, the boho gal’s guide to wardrobe dreams, we’re totally mystified! Not that vintage-print maxi-dresses, felt hats, and feather-festooned accessories are mandatory for the girl who drinks it green – in fact, there’s nothing we love more than to the green juice drinker who breaks all stereotypes! But, if we’re honest with ourselves, half of our greens-guzzling friends (heck, half our own staff!) is dressed something like this on any given Thursday.
All that to say, Free People and their award-winning blog Bldg 25 is deeply our jam. And, this month, we’re delighted to begin partnering with their team on some incredible content! Watch for more, both here on TCM and over with our friends at Bldg 25. See my interview with their West Coast team here as we kick things off!
To start, we’re sharing this DIY project from Free People editor, Madisyn. This day-long DIY is perfect for the late fall season, a couple of girlfriends, and that empty wall that’s been driving you crazy for months…
My studio is the place where I go to create. My walls are blank space and, lately, have been calling for some inspiration. I know you’ve seen the good ol’ gallery walls on Pinterest. You know, the ones that seem so effortless and cool. Some messy magazine tears, scribbled quotes, all within a corner of the perfect-looking studio. Well, I’ve been a little obsessed with these, so much so that I found myself on a ladder all weekend with a pile of nails and a hammer. Gallery wall ideas can come from anywhere, from a memorable event, annual celebration or your own need for constant change. First things first: Gallery walls are hard. They are intimidating, and the entire time you will be worried about one thing: the spacing, the spacing, the spacing. Who knew one could be so bad with a measuring tape? I figured it out, and conquered. Before you start your wall, grab a #FPBFF, some patience and repeat out loud, “anything goes.”
How to Make Your Own Gallery Wall
Make a day of it with your best friend! Asking someone for help is crucial during this process. It’s nice to have someone who’s got your back (literally, on the ladder, with antlers in your hand), and also to share his/her honest opinions on placement and offer fresh ideas for how to display your gallery wall. Grab some snacks, spin Fleetwood Mac, and make this fun.
Choose the Space
Know your space, and build around it. I chose my desk as the piece of furniture above which to hang my art, but the options are endless. A tiny nook in your bedroom, above the couch in your living room.
Collect: Almost anything can have a beautiful visual presence on a DIY gallery wall. Whether it’s love letters, polaroids or maps. My Mom and I have been collecting Mexican Folk art, reclaimed tins and quirky oil paintings since forever, so my wall was destined to have this look. Don’t be afraid to mix vintage treasures with modern wall décor. I recommended picking a theme, (mine was a bit Frida Kahlo-inspired) and turn it into a collection.
Plan: Measure the wall, and mimic the area on the floor. You can even cut to scale certain pieces you know you want to include. This gives you a chance to lay everything out, play around with different options and get new ideas for your gallery wall. This is the fun, mistake-free, no-messy-holes-in-the wall part that lets you curate your vision. Though my real gallery wall ended up looking different than the one on the floor, this was so helpful for me, allowing me to interpret different ideas and visualize scales.
Start Big: On my floor plan, I placed the biggest pieces of art on four corners as the strong, structural anchor points to my wall. Putting your first nail in the wall is beyond stressful, but starting big and hanging these strong points keeps things in perspective. This helped me have a strong starting point, and also visually showed me what space I have to work with. You will begin to fill in from here.
Follow Your Heart: Take a step back every once and a while and see what is missing. At this point, you are hanging away, and your wall is growing into something. Look at the big picture, and see what is missing. Areas of your gallery wall will look much different from a distance than they do up close. You may like swapping things, adding some last-minute vintage photos with masking tape, or choose to have some things hung off-centered. Things don’t have to go exactly as planned and, if you stick with your heart through the journey, you’ll end up with your own little masterpiece.
If you have the option to create art, go for it. I grabbed a sharpie, and scribbled a lil’ something on the wall to keep me happy and musing. If you’re constantly creating and changing, maybe think about designating a portion of your gallery wall as a permanent whiteboard that you add to/subtract from whenever you want.
Play with textures, sizes, and depths. Think carved wood, hammered metals, shelving pieces, blown glass, mirrors and hooks. Make negative space work for you. Use some masking tape (or painters tape) to create gallery wall frames for your photos and art out of white wall space.
Let Mother Nature hang out on your wall. Go green, grab some plants and hang them. I love the way plants make me feel. I breathe better with them around, and they add a light, natural feel to the wall.
Soften it up. I taped feathers, dried flowers and cute photos on the wall to make it sweet and meaningful, while adding some contrast.
Your wall doesn’t need to look exactly like mine. I’m always a bit all over the place – a mix of old and new – so I wanted my wall to be full and funky. If you are more modern or minimal, stick with it. You can make a photo gallery wall, an art gallery wall, or a hodgepodge of whatever makes you happy. We are all original, and our walls should be too!
Take a break. It’s ok to start and not finish. If you need to step away and come back to it when you are feeling motivated, then let it be. This bad boy took me two solid days to finish.
Again, have fun. Keep calm. Watch out for your fingers, and make sure your landlord doesn’t mind loud noises! Follow the call of the disco doll today, babes! Go hang up your DIY art gallery wall – it’s totally worth the sore arms and measuring breakdowns. I’m currently typing this post, and looking up at a big gallery wall with a big smile on my face.