Do you love a good salon-style wall? Most likely the answer is yes. When it’s done well, it can “make” the room and adds plenty of personality. If you have a collection of art that represents a range of styles, a grouping of mismatched frames, or just a collection that has grown over time from school, family vacations, and flea-market finds, then a salon-style wall (or “gallery” wall) can be a perfect way to get all of those pieces up and on display to make a statement and create a focal point.
For those unsure of just what a salon-style wall is, it involves grouping your artwork together on a wall versus hanging a single piece of artwork by itself. It began as a way to feature works by individual artists. Each artist would have a single wall where his or her works would hang. Today, art lovers, collectors, designers, and others favor arranging a collection of different artists and artwork on a single wall. And with so many good resources available for printing and framing our own images, as well as places to collect original artwork and fine prints, there’s no reason not to have at least one salon-style wall in your home.
However, before you get your hammer and nails out and start pounding into the wall, here are a few things to consider:
Assess what you have. Gather your artwork together and decide on your approach. You need to see the entire collection of pieces you are considering for the wall together. You can unify the collection by theme, frames, medium (photography, paintings, drawings), or by color versus black-and-white. You can mix mediums, however, make sure one of the other elements is cohesive like the frames or the theme. Once you have established the items to be hung, place them in front of the wall or area they will be displayed to get a sense of the space and overall impact.
This photo and above: Two examples of salon-style walls from Ethan Allen
Be harmonious. Furniture and artwork should work together. The beauty of a salon-style wall is that not everything is exactly the same. However, you want to be sure the collection you plan to hang works with the furnishings and the light in the room. Too much variation of art, wall color, and furnishings can be distracting and feel disjointed. You want all of the components to work together, so the salon-style wall is a focal point of the room rather than a distraction.
Anchor the wall. You need a larger piece that “anchors” the collection. Too many small pieces—unless they are all the same size and you are creating a symmetrical arrangement—will look messy and too busy to make a design statement. Starting with a larger piece, centered on the wall, you will find it easier to keep the arrangement balanced.
Size matters. Unless you are creating a wall where all of the frames are the same size (think 9 or 12 frames of the same dimensions) by design, you are going to want a range of shapes, both horizontal and vertical. Some can be smaller, some bigger, but you will want a variety.
Spatial unity. Think of the salon wall as one unified piece. You don’t want the collection to be too small for the wall or not have enough wall space.
DIY it. If you want to hang the wall yourself, I would suggest (from experience) making a template. Make a paper template of each piece of art you intend to hang. Simply trace the artwork on a piece of brown kraft paper and cut it out. Then tape (I like to work with painters tape) the pieces of paper to the wall to make sure the arrangement you are planning works compositionally and is to your liking.
Have the tools. If you are hanging the work yourself, make sure you have the proper equipment: a hammer, the correct nails to hang artwork with, and a level.
Point and shoot. Once you have all of the templates taped to the wall, step back several feet and take a photo. Then look at the wall from several angles in the room and take another photo. This will help you see the space more objectively. Are the pieces too high? Too low, etc.
Call a pro. When in doubt, or if you just need a professional eye, contact a gallery, such as J. Pocker, or an art-installation company, like ILevel.
Remember, whether your arrangement is floor-to-ceiling, above the living room sofa, in the entry, or all family photos or fine-art prints, beautifully arranged collections of photographs, drawings, or paintings make a personal statement and create a strong focal point. Best of all, they add a unique sensibility to your home. At the end of the day, that’s one of the key elements of good design and personality.
Your go-to sources if you want to add to your art collection, create a collection, or hang your pieces on the wall.
Lost Art Salon
Lost Art Salon is a San Francisco-based art gallery that specializes in historic artists and fine-art collections. They have a strong focus on 20th-century Modernism but also have pieces from the 19th century through the present. If Modernism is your thing, this is a gallery with online shopping to know about. www.lostartsalon.com
Kenise Barnes Fine Art
Kenise Barnes Fine Art is a contemporary-art gallery and fine-art consulting firm. This is a great destination for emerging and mid-career arts. If you are looking for a modern piece to add to your collection, this gallery is a definite destination. Kenise will work with you to find the right piece for the right space and/or collection. Kenise has an excellent eye, knowledge, and overall curation.
1947 Palmer Ave., Larchmont | (914) 834-8077 | www.kbfa.com
Minted is an online design marketplace made up of independent artists who are globally sourced and curated. Their community of creatives includes painters, designers, and illustrators. Some are stay-at-home moms others work fulltime as artists or in other media. The result is a well-curated and fresh collection of art for your home. www.minted.com
Madelyn Jordon Fine Art
Madelyn Jordon knows a thing or two about art. She has a Masters in Art History and Museum Studies as well as an impressive personal collection. Her gallery offers a well curated collection of fine, contemporary art as well as exhibitions that change monthly. Stop in to shop from over 20 artists, or enlist Madelyn as a consultant to create or grow your collection. 37 Popham Rd., Scarsdale | (914) 723-8738 | www.madelynjordonfineart.com
Known for custom framing (with an outstanding selection of frames), J. Pocker is a complete, full-service destination for original artwork, fine prints, stunning frames, mirrors, and a great overall place of information, craftsmanship, and design. The team at J. Pocker can design and install a salon wall for any space in your home, as well. The one-on-one service is excellent and a nice relief from online shopping and DIY.
J. Pocker, 65 Pondfield Rd., Bronxville | (914) 337-7100 | www.jpocker.com
Are you into cartography? If so, then you need to check out Raven Maps. Raven publishes large-format, shaped relief maps in color. They have map series that include the world, North America, and individual states. The maps come in multiple sizes, so you can create a dramatic statement with two to four large prints or do multiple prints in smaller sizes for a salon-style wall. Alternatively, just mix in a map of your home state with family pictures. www.ravenmaps.com
Do you need help with your installation? Then contact ILevel. ILevel brings an artist’s eye and a craftsman’s skill to creating art arrangements and accomplished installations. The founder, David Kassel, and his staff are all fine artists and have excellent instincts and technique. ILevel handles large and small installations and consultations. Interior designers, dealers, galleries, and private collectors nationally recognize their work.
636 Broadway #1208, New York, NY | (212) 477-4319 | http://ilevel.biz/