Five Top Tips for Creating a Fabulous Gallery Wall – WCAF Expo – Part 2

As you all may remember, we were lucky enough to attend and host a fantastic group of Design Bloggers at the 2016 West Coast Art & Frame Expo (WCAF)… We’ve shared a bit about all of the unique things you can have custom framed, and now we’d like to offer some top tips on creating a truly fabulous gallery wall.

We’ve been seeing an explosion of beautiful gallery walls for quite some time now, and while many may seem haphazard, there’s definitely a few tricks to making them work. During our time at WCAF, we noted a number of similarities between the gallery wall displays we found most effective, and thought we’d pull our notes together and share them here with you:

image via House & Garden
  1. Keep the art in the same tone – With as many pieces featured in the space above, things could have gotten chaotic quickly. This large gallery wall works because the art is all in the same black and white tone. While the sizes vary slightly, they pieces all appear to be pencil drawings in tones of black, white and grey. Keeping the art in the same colorway allows one to appreciate this gallery wall as a whole and as individual pieces.

    image found via Pinterest
  2. Use same sized artworks – By using artworks that are all the same size, you’re able to create a symmetrical grouping, no matter how many pieces are a part of the overall grouping. The gallery wall above features an array of what looks to be Audubon bird art, all of identical size. Although there are may colors in the works of art, the sizing of the pieces laid out in this grid, allows for a visual appealing gallery wall.

    image found via Setting for Four
  3. Feature identical custom frame designs – Your custom framer can get creative with their custom frame designs for your gallery wall, as long as they’re all the same. The above image features a black and white photo gallery wall. But, what’e really special about this space is the unique frame design. Although they stuck to classic black frames and white mats, the custom framer bottom weighted the mats. This provides a truly custom look that offers a stylistic element this otherwise basic design craves.

    image found via Home DIT
  4. Use frame mouldings of similar width and finishes – The above gallery wall features the ever-popular “salon” style grouping, which incorporates different types of art all in different colors, styles, textures, etc. While glancing at each work individually, you may not think it could work in a grouping with all of the other pieces, however, using custom frame mouldings in similar widths and finishes unifies a potentially mismatched grouping.

    image found via One Kings Lane
  5. Know when to vary the frame finishes – Changing up the finishes of the custom frame mouldings in a wall grouping can be tricky. The trick to making this look work is hanging a thoughtful layout. The space pictured above showcases different types of art, framed in many different ways, however it works because they utilized the horizon line hanging technique. Note the bottom edge of the bottom row of artworks all hit the same sight line. This gives reason and rhyme to a totally unique collection of custom framed art.

*Bonus tip – your Interior Designer or custom framer will be happy to do the dirty work, and hang your gallery wall, just as you desire… However, if you’re looking to DIY this step – say, if you’re collecting framed art over time – cut butcher paper to the same size of each pieces you’re hanging, and lay them out on the wall with tape. This will give you the ability to move things around, and visualize the final product without lots of unnecessary holes in the wall.

We hope we’ve inspired you to get a bit more creative with your art arranging and displays, just like our trip to WCAF inspired us to share these tips with you. Gallery walls can provide a space with tons of style and personality, we encourage everyone to find just one place in their home for a gallery wall.

If you need assistance creating a gallery wall for your home, please contact the team at steve mckenzie’s and we’ll be more than happy to create something perfect for you and your space!

WCAF Expo Recap – Part 1: What to frame besides art…

As you may recall, late last month we hosted a team of fabulous design bloggers in Las Vegas for the West Coast Art & Frame Expo. It was a fantastic event full of amazing wall decor inspiration – we came away with so many ideas, we just had to share them here with you…

The first outstanding theme we noticed was a plethora of out-of-the-box items transformed into art, thanks to custom framing. It was amazing! And it really goes to show that if you love it, it can become art. No matter what! Here are some ideas we saw while at the show were:

custom framed map
image via ADC Fine Art

Maps! Maps are a fantastic item to custom frame – it could be a map from a trip you took, a map of a region with pins of places you’ve lived, a map of the city where you were born… So many great options that could be especially meaningful to you!

custom framed vacation
framed by Kelly Gallery Art & Frame
custom framed tickets
framed by Fastframe Bentleigh

Event memorabilia can be really fun to have custom framed! We saw so many wonderful examples, and in this category, just about anything goes. You can have a 3d souvineer framed in a shadowbox, or tickets from your favorite band’s local show, along with photos, playbills and tiny trinkets combined with photos create beautiful displays, and will become great talking points in your home.

custom framed china
designed by Affiche en Tête
by Larson-Juhl

Pretty plates and china offer art options that look stunning when custom framed. Perhaps you have only one unbroken cup or saucer from your grandmother’s tea service… Have it custom framed! Love a particular china pattern, but only have a piece or two? Have them custom framed so you may enjoy them each time you pass.

custom framed antique blouse
designed by Wade Maxx Art & Framing
custom framed baby items
via Martha Stewart

Some of the sweetest custom framing examples we saw were custom framed baby clothes. And what an amazing way to bring something out into your home that means so much to you, while also acting as artwork?!? Christening gowns, wedding accessories, baby shoes, even vintage swim suits and handbags would all be absolute showstoppers when framed by a professional.

custom framed autograph
designed by The Great Frame Up – Oak Park

Autographs may seem like obvious choices when it comes to selecting things to custom frame, but pair that autograph with a photo or piece of memorabilia that has a connection to the autograph, and you have something truly memorable. Even the kid’s Disney autographs would make for fun and personal art for their spaces!

custom framed fishing lure collection
designed by Bradley’s Art & Frame

custom framed spoon collection

Dust off those boxed up collections and give them the royal treatment with a custom frame design! Simple silver spoon and fishing lure collections look like a million bucks with a beautiful layout and custom framing. Perhaps your collections have been passed down and their current method of display isn’t quite your style? Have your local custom framer create something perfect for your home and lifestyle. Even vintage antiques can look fresh and modern with the right frame design!

So – have you been properly inspired yet?!? I know we are! Now we’re just looking around to see what we can have custom framed for our clients… It’s a beautiful way to incorporate a special memory into an interior design. A win-win.

If you need help creating an interior that speaks to you – and incorporating uniquely custom framed art in to it, look no further than the steve mckenzie’s design team; we’d love to work with you to create something truly special!

The McKenzie’s & Blogger Friends at the West Coast Art & Frame Expo

Next week, Steve and Jill will be hosting an extremely talented group of design industry insiders at the West Coast Art & Frame expo in Las Vegas!


This “bloggers tour” is comprised of four design tastemakers who all understand the importance of art in a home, and who are looking to learn more about what’s new in the world of art and framing, as well as share a bit about their unique perspectives on art and framing…

Cathy Austin of Bespoke Banter
Cathy Austin of Bespoke Banter
Vicki Gladle Bolick of The Ace of Space
Vicki Gladle Bolick of The Ace of Space
Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room
Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room
Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Jennings Ramsay of Cloth & Kind
Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Jennings Ramsay of Cloth & Kind

We are absolutely thrilled about this lineup and encourage you to follow everyone here on social media, so you may be a part of this event, and take advantage of all we see and learn along the way!

In addition to hosting this fabulous crew of bloggers, Steve will also be an educator at the expo. As a longtime member of the art and framing industry – his former gig was serving as Chief Designer for Larson-Juhl for the last 20 years, and as CEO for the past decade – he’s looking forward to sharing his thoughts on small business success and his favorite, mid-century modern design during two sessions at the expo.

If you’ll be at the WCAF expo, consider attending one of Steve’s classes. And if not, please keep an eye out for a recap of this exciting trip! Viva Last Vegas!!