Arranging and Grouping Wall Pictures

Beth Asaff
Group of framed art

Wall pictures that are perfectly arranged and grouped can make an eye-catching statement in any room of your home. Learn the best way to arrange them to make the most of both the space and the pictures themselves.

Getting Started

The key to adding a group of pictures in your home is to match the right pictures with the right room. This will require some planning. There are many things to consider before measuring and hammering picture hangers.

Selecting Your Pictures

The first thing you need to do is select the pictures you wish to hang on the wall. Do you have enough pictures to create a grouping? If you don't have enough pictures for a grouping, you'll need to make a few select purchases to complete your collection.

Make sure you have enough photos to fill the space without having to spread them out too far, or clump them up together tightly. Ideally, there should be an inch or two between each of the pictures. Don't worry about the final number; the idea is to fill a space naturally not fit in a specific set of pieces.

Arranging New Pictures

If this is your first home and you have yet to accumulate enough pictures for a grouping, you have a couple of options. One is to place a single, focal point-style piece on the wall and slowly add pictures around it to produce the grouping over time. The second is to wait and hold off until you have accumulated enough pictures, then hang them all at once.

Frame It

Make sure the frames look good together as a grouping. You'll want to decide on a color or a group of colors for the frames. You may wish to go with a gold baroque and various gold ornate frames for a formal design. If your home is designed for casual living, then you might choose simplistic wood frames or if your décor is modern, black glossy frames.

The idea is to have at least one common element between all the frames. This may be the same shape, the same style or the same accent. This way you can add to your grouping over time, without worrying about finding an exact match for the other frames.

Mats Create Interest

Don't forget the matting. Mats offset the picture, giving it more weight and space. You can use a single mat, double or triple mats, provided you are consistent amongst all the pictures in the group. Color is also important when it comes to mat selections and hanging pictures in a grouping; try to find one common color in all the pictures and use it on all the mats. This may be as simple as white, or a more eye-popping red, depending upon both the color of the frame and the colors in the pictures.

Composition, Style, Theme and Color

Sailing pictures

A grouping of pictures becomes a focal point in your room, so play it up. Select pictures that have a common theme, such as a grouping of nature photos or a collection of black and white images. Use the style and composition of the pictures to provide continuity; you wouldn't group three abstract paintings in steel frames with reproductions of old master paintings in ornate gold-leaf frames.

It's important to decide on the theme you want. Perhaps you love the ocean and sailing. A collection of seascapes, beach houses, surf-fishing and sailboats will create a perfect grouping. If your furniture is dark wood with rich warm leather and your color scheme is golds, reds and browns, then you can repeat those colors with various pictures of sunsets.

Try to establish a color scheme to your grouping of wall art. Pick a color found in the room, and make sure that color is predominant in your pictures, such as picking up a shade of green from a throw rug and using some abstract paintings that feature it throughout the works.

Using What You Have

You might not have the money in your decorating budget to purchase new pictures and need to use what you have. The challenge with this kind of arrangement is to make a mis-match of frames and pictures come together. Create continuity between different styles and sizes of picture frames by painting them the same color. This technique works because the frames become a backdrop allowing the pictures to stand out.

Arrange the Pictures

Now that you have your pictures selected, you're ready to begin arranging them. Lay your pictures on the floor and begin arranging together.

Do a Trial Run

Using paper replicas of your pictures is a great way to figure out how they'll fit together on the wall, without committing or worrying about holes. Use either plain paper or color copies of your pictures to create replicas of your pictures. Try to get as accurate with sizing as you can, including the frame and matt. Use a little picture putty on the backsides to let you press and remove them easily from the wall.

Step back often to make sure they are just where you want them. When it's time to hang the real thing, remove them one by one and hang the pictures right in their place. This helps keep your lines from straying as you move from the replicas to the pictures themselves.

Create Balance

Grouped pictures

There are lots of different ways you can arrange photos in a space. Formal spaces may make use of three or more photos that are all the same size arranged into a square or rectangular grouping.

For more eclectic spaces, you can get a little bit more creative. Either arrange your pictures into a unique shape like a circle or cross, or try balancing the pictures by clumping small pictures together and balancing them with larger pictures. This is where you need to get a little creative, playing with the frames to find balance. You might place three smaller pictures to the right stacked on top of each other and then have two large pictures on the left balancing the others. If you're filling in a very large gallery wall with several different pictures, you may want to place larger pictures in the corners to frame the area, and fill in the interior with the various-sized pictures to complete the space.

If you have a hole to fill, consider framing a piece of fabric or printed cloth as a placeholder until you can find the right picture for the space. This is also a fun way to add a little extra color to the walls of contemporary, country and transitional homes.

Alternate Shapes

If you want to add some interest to the wall, consider using two different shapes, such as ovals and rectangles. Arrange them together by alternating the shapes, such as using a large rectangle on the left, with a smaller rectangle above a smaller oval just next to it. Finish with a larger oval on the right, or a large oval followed by a large rectangle. This creates some interest, while preserving the common theme.

Choose a Focal Point

Focal point of frames

Sometimes it helps to put a picture in the center to arrange the rest of the pictures around. This could be one large piece of artwork, one very bold color or a differing shape, such as putting a single oval picture in the middle of several rectangles.

Arrange by Tone

If you choose to group pictures together that have a common subject matter, rather than a common color scheme, pay attention to how you group the colors. Put darker paintings or pictures on the bottom of the grouping, while you place the lighter colors toward the top. Depending on how many pictures you have, you may want to gradate from light to dark in shades as well.

Hanging the Pictures

While it's always possible to simply put some picture hangers and hooks on the wall and arrange your pictures singularly, this isn't the only way to group and hang your pictures.

Picture Rods

There may be times when you need to limit the number of holes you put in the walls. If you're confronted with this issue, but still want to create a gallery wall or other large arrangement, consider hanging the pictures from a rod. Use a curtain rod, wooden rail or piece of pipe and secure it to the wall or ceiling. Hang the pictures at varying heights along the rod using invisible fishing line. Be sure to hang the lowest pictures first, in case you need to layer pictures over the line up above.

Picture Wires

Picture wire

Similar to the picture rods are picture wires. String one long framing wire along the top of a wall, and either hang the pictures right on it without frames, or hang groups of pictures off the wire using fishing line.

Picture Collages

If you want to hang large numbers of photos, but don't necessarily have the space, consider using some picture collage frames. Collage frames group photos together, some of one size, others of several varying sizes. You can hang a single collage, or group two or three together to get in a lot of artwork in a very small space.

Be Creative

A collection of pictures creates a focal point, so don't be afraid to try something different and dramatic when arranging and grouping wall pictures. Once you get it right, you'll be amazed at how something as ordinary as a collection of pictures can transform a space.

Arranging and Grouping Wall Pictures