Tag Archives: how to hang a gallery wall with tv

Mera’s House: Four Lessons From a Second Attempt at a TV Gallery Wall

The room that we call the Adult Lounge is definitely one of my favorites in our house.  This is the room that we retreat to after Opal is in bed to watch our favorite shows (Homeland Season 4 is SO good.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say don’t be put off by Seasons 2 & 3, or Brody and his liver lips.).  When I first shared this room on the blog, the gallery wall behind the TV sparked major controversy (which in RHW terms means one or two people commented that they weren’t sold).  Here is what is looked like then:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

The idea behind this arrangement was that if the TV overlapped the artwork, it would make the TV seem less important, like it gathers dust in a closet until the Winter Olympics roll around every four years.  A few readers commented that it actually did the reverse; to them the artwork seemed diminished, or even eclipsed, by the all-important boob-tube.

What made me decide to change it in the end was the imbalance of space above and below the table.  The table is the Strut table by Blu Dot, and I love it for its crazy color and simple modern shape.  But the open space below the table top, delicately bisected by the struts, was a mismatch with the too-tight artwork arrangement.

I decided to re-hang the gallery wall using the same pieces, with a few additions and subtractions from things I already had.  The goal was to create more breathing room between the frames, while still giving the eye plenty to look at.  I think it looks a lot better:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Here are four tips I learned along the way for creating a successful TV gallery wall:

1. Include Plenty of Black

Until the innovators out there start making TV screens that are not dark as midnight, TV gallery walls will need lots of black.  To even slightly distract the eye from the black abyss, you need artwork with similarly heavy visual weight in the mix.  I think mine would look better and be more effective with a few more black or dark pieces, or if the dark pieces didn’t have white mats.

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

2.  Let The Frames Breathe

In the old arrangement the frames were nearly touching, which I think in some contexts can look relaxed and interesting.  But when you’re creating a gallery wall around a TV, you’re trying to give the eye other places to rest, and the eye doesn’t know where to stop if there’s no space between the artwork (the word gestalt popped into my head when I was thinking about this, but even though I’ve googled it several times I still can’t decide whether the old arrangement had too much or too little).  All of which is to say that even with a loosely composed arrangement like this around a TV, you want at least two or three inches between frames.

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

3.  Use Art Similar in Shape and Size to the TV

In the old arrangement I had one huge painting (by Carol Crump Bryner, which is now on the wall to the right), and lots of bitty pieces.  The effect was that the arrangement wasn’t just unbalanced top to bottom, it was also much weightier on the right than on the left (made worse by the bushy rubber tree below the painting).  In the new arrangement I tried to use more large-scale pieces, but none so huge that they make the smaller ones seem like unimportant filler.   I used art I already had on this wall, but in the future I’ll keep an eye out for horizontally oriented rectangular pieces, similar in shape to the TV.

That's the look I get when I'm taking blog pictures instead of helping carry in groceries from Costco.

That’s the look I get when I’m taking blog pictures instead of carrying in groceries from Costco.

4.  Use Art With Meaning

A lot of meaningless drivel pours out of the TV — I’ve been known to sit down to an episode or two or five of America’s Next Top Model.  In the grips of a vacuous binge, glancing over at artwork with personal meaning pulls me from the shameful mire and restores me to myself.  For me there’s no better reality check in the midst of a vapid reality show than the reproachful gaze of my dearly beloved, and sadly departed, dog Megan:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Megan wore this sweet tag that Katie gave her for years and if I close my eyes I can still hear the jingle of it on her collar.

So, there you have it, my four tips for a successful TV gallery wall.  Any other advice to add to the list?  Thanks!