• Brookelynn Darwin

A Guide to thrifting a Gallery Wall



My walls have been through many iterations. In fact, all photos featured here are from the last 15 months alone, but you know what they say; One pandemic year is equal to 3 regular years, so I'm giving myself a pass on the excessive use of nails and sparkle. We all have form of self-care. This is mine. My name is Brooke and I'm an obsessive redecorator.


For renters, putting up a gallery wall is a functional way to make your space truly yours. As I mentioned before, spackle is your best friend and while you can lay out your pieces before hanging them up, my gallery wall is an ever growing, evolving installation, so I often move pieces around to add something new.


Below are the rules I've subconsciously followed while thrifting my art collection.


  • Be patient. If you want to curate the very best collection, and don't have a copious amount of time to devote to thrifting, understand that your collection won't come together overnight. Good things take time and that's honestly part of the fun. Each time you find something to add, it will feel exhilarating and you'll likely be able to point to each painting and tell someone where you found it. The time and effort is, for me, a part of the beauty.

  • It's not all or nothing. Don't overlook a good piece of art because of an ugly frame, and vis versa. For the longest time, I only collected ornate, wood carved frames for our wedding gallery. I printed all of the wedding photos I wanted to hang, and every time I found a new frame, I'd pop out the art and put mine in. When I started collecting paintings, sometimes I'd thrift a separate frame. Additionally, if you find a frame you love that's missing the glass, you can often find a replacement at any craft store.

  • Curate. I have a very specific color palette of muted earthy tones that I'm attracted to so my collection has come together quite naturally. If however you are drawn to many different color palettes, try to choose one and stick to it. Chose your focal point and collect things that compliment that one painting, or keep a simple color pallet on your phone so you can reference it when you thrift. You can also stick to a theme: all landscapes, all florals, all portraits. Chose one thread that will tie it all together and they will magically look as though they were always meant to be in the same collection.

  • Fill in the gaps. I love adding texture to my gallery so I have included little vintage wall hangings. It's nice to have an arsenal of extras tucked away so that you can shop your closet and fill in any spaces that just need something small to balance it all out.

  • Balance. There are several ways to arrange your collection, from a perfectly even grid (you'll need pieces that are all the same size and shape for this) to asymmetrical. I like mine to flow up in one direction sort of like a staircase. I've found it's the best way to incorporate pieces that vary in size and shape.


We currently live in a one bedroom apartment and when I have more wall space, these pieces won't always live together. Eventually, I'd love to have all of the portraits in one place, and expand the landscape collection but for now I'll just keep adding to this wall until I run out of space. And then I'll probably just store more art in a closet for the future. I'm warning you now, once you start collecting old art, it's addicting. There, you've been warned, I wash my hands of any obsessive art thrifting I might inspire. Happy hunting!




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