Exposed brick walls are super popular, especially on the NYC rental scene, but they can be hard to decorate around. As I wasn’t able to paint the bricks in my NYC Brownstone apartment, I decided to soften the dark brick by hanging a gallery wall. I remember feeling daunted at the prospect of hanging so many pieces of art from an old and uneven exposed brick wall. So, I decided to write this blog post to help demystify and simplify the process for anyone else who is looking to hang a gallery wall from an exposed brick wall. Click through after the jump to see the gallery wall and how-to in full!
You guys know how much I love a gallery wall (here’s the one in my old London apartment, for example). Last year, I even filmed an hour long video class on how to hang three different styles of gallery walls for Good Housekeeping. That said, I’ve not blogged about how to hang a gallery wall on an exposed brick wall before. Normally, when I’m curating a series of art for a gallery wall I like to mix up the frame styles to give the overall gallery wall some natural ebb and flow. However, in this instance I decided to have all of my artwork from Minted framed and matted identically. My reasoning behind this was two fold. Firstly, the exposed brick wall was vast and full of different textures and tones, hence I wanted to bring some cohesiveness and consistency to the wall by introducing a visual constant – in this case, the matt white frames. Secondly, the exposed brick wall stretched across the entire open plan, living, dining and working space in the apartment so I wanted to use to gallery wall as a way to connect all three spaces.Here are my top five tips for hanging a gallery wall on an exposed brick wall:
1. Start by measuring our the total area you wish to hang the art within, and then figure out the spacing you will need around each piece of art to make the gallery wall look uniform at the edges. This doesn’t mean that every piece of art should be identical in size (although this is totally an option and you can see how to take this approach in my gallery wall video, here), but rather you can mix up the sizes within the perimeter lines of the gallery wall, just ensure that the edges are all straight around the outside.
2. Hang the frames from nails hammered into the mortar in between the bricks rather the bricks themselves. This prevents damage to the wall as it won’t crack the bricks.
3. If your exposed brick wall is in an old building then the chances are the bricks and mortar lines aren’t straight, meaning you need to hang from a nail in the centre of a brick in order to get one of the pieces of art to hang at the right level. No fear! I found that the easiest way to get around this was to either unscrew the wire from the back and move it so that I could re-hang the art from a nail in the mortar instead, or I just used additional wire to create a new piece of hanging wire that was longer or shorter. Easy!
4. Break up your matching frames with found objects to give the overall gallery wall a more relaxed look and feel. For example, I sporadically hung a vintage nautical flag, a handmade ceramic bell and a painted wooden oar across the stretch of my gallery wall. These pieces really helped to add personality and visual interest to the wall. Also, they give the eye a natural resting point in between the art.
5. Gallery walls hung from a painted wall often work well with contrasting, statement pieces and colors, yet when you are hanging art from exposed brick walls it’s best to hang pieces that co-ordinate with the colors of the bricks as you want to soften the contrast, not add to it. Here, you can see how I hung art from a sole palette of browns, naturals and blues.
What do you think of my gallery wall? Which pieces of art are catching your eye? Have you ever hung a gallery wall on an exposed brick wall? // Shop my art picks (right to left, from top): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | Photography and Styling by Will Taylor
So good Will! How did you hang your oar? We have an oar as a part of a gallery wall in our kitchen, and we ended up hanging it horizontally using large bolt hooks. Loving all of your gorgeous prints!
@Jenn – Thank you! My oar isn’t super heavy and it came with a hook on the back, so I just hung it from a nail, too! Your kitchen scheme sounds fantastic! 🙂
WOW! Stunning gallery wall!!
@Alicia – Thanks so much!
Perfect timing will…just moved into a new apt in Brooklyn Heights that has walls like this. Did you use special nails?
@Jackson – Congratulations on the new apartment! I used masonry ones in the mortar.
Beautiful blue colors! xo
@Susanna – My favorite!
I always wondered how people hang gallery walls on brick! You did such a great job. I love that you stuck to a particular color palette and chose pieces with lots of white space that really pop from the brick and brighten it up. The objects add great dimension as well. It looks light and lovely!
@Jackie – Thanks, lovely! So happy you like it! It’s amazing how it helped to brighten the space and add some dimension to the room as the bricks were quite dominating beforehand, especially as the facing wall is also bricks just like this.
Oh what great tips, Will! That’s a hard dilemma.
Your wall looks fantastic!
@Carrie – Thank you so much, Carrie! 🙂
This is fantastic & Soo helpful Will!
@Jana – Thank you! 🙂
Love it! Thanks for the tips. I have all black frames on my white gallery wall with black and white family photos and other things but I was thinking of mixing the frames. Did you make the ombre lamp shade yourself? I wonder if I missed that post.
@Mary Beth – Thank you! Your gallery wall sounds very stylish and personal. The lamp was from Anthropolgie!
There’s definitely a knack to hanging a gallery wall Will but you have nailed it. Get it? I like the found objects breaking it up. I have so many un-hung pieces at home because I’m just plain scared of hanging them. I feel inspired to try now. x
@Carole – Thanks, lovely! Pun perfection, right there! 😉 xx
Those nautical touches make us want to jump in a rowing boat for a lazy afternoon on the water 🙂
Wonderful feature Will!
@Jack – Haha, me too!
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Did you find “metal brick clip fasteners” no good vs the masonry nails? the mortar is extremely hard in my house and with such a large area exposed, I would rather leave it empty than attempt to hang a single picture by forcing nails through it. it just seems like a lot of hard work and that’s not my cup of tea 🙂
@Melanie – I found the masonry nails to be safer as my bricks didn’t seem to like the fasteners!