A Quick & Dirty Gallery Wall Tutorial

April 22, 2015

All right DIY lovers, this gallery wall tutorial is called “quick and dirty” for good reason. This isn’t your perfectly positioned, heirloom framed; spend all day nailing holes in your wall type of gallery wall. This sort of gallery wall has a modern elegance that says, “I’m creative, on a budget, and I like to get things done.”

I was inspired to give this project a shot when one of my favorite online design sites, Rue Magazine, suggested using magazine tears as artwork. Brilliant! The entire project cost less than $100 and once the frames were purchased it only took about two hours to complete the finished look. There are of course endless variations on the gallery wall theme, but here’s how you can give this look a go.


  • Picture ledge (mine was Ikea’s RIBBA) & drill
  • Picture frames (mine were a selection of black frames with mats)
  • Magazines from around the house. Good places to pick up free magazines (with nice editorial photos) are clothing and home stores. Also, calendars work well too!
  • Masking tape/scissors

Step 1 –

Purchase your picture rails and frames. Install the picture rails according to the directions. If you want to one-stop shop you know where to go. I highly advocate thrifting of course, but for this particular look I wanted all black frames, photo mats, and to work quickly.


Step 2 –

Go to town tearing up your magazines. If you’ve got a bird calendar, try going with the theme. Another option is to create categories of what inspires you such as travel, food, pattern, fashion, textiles…whatever it maybe. As you rip, put the tears into the different piles. Begin to pull out the images that you are drawn to, being mindful that there is some color cohesion, balance and/or juxtaposition. For example, all bird pictures represents cohesion of imagery, balance could be found by using a particular color to unite the imagery, juxtaposition might work by mixing interesting food photography with high fashion model shots.


Step 3 –

Use your mats to help you frame photos. Take the mats out of the frame and place them over different tears to get a feel for if you like the composition. Once you have the photo placed to your liking, tape the back so it does not shift while you move it into the frame.



Step 4 –

Play around arranging your frames on the picture ledge and stand back to admire your handiwork! There’s no magic formula for arranging the frames. I find they are much easier to arrange once the imagery is inside. If something is not working or bugging you, have a few back up photos that you can switch out to see if you can improve the composition.



Finally something to do with all those old magazines! Good luck and have some fun with this one!


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Meet Claire

Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!

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