Creating a Picture-Perfect Gallery Wall of Dopamine Decor

Tips and tricks for designing a space that brings you joy


“Dopamine Decor” has been blowing up on social media lately, and for good reason. Instead of plain, boring, neutral home accessories, people are embracing bold, exciting, colorful pieces that make a statement, saying this quirky trinket—whether it be a lamp, coasters, or photo—makes me happy.  

As I officially move out of my parents’ house and back into my college apartment in Madison, Wisconsin, this month, I’ve found myself reimagining what I want my shoebox-style space to look and, most importantly, feel like. One way I’ve decided to incorporate dopamine décor into my apartment is by creating my very own gallery wall, filled with framed slogans, places, and portraits that bring me joy. Hanging mismatched art in a collage format can feel intimidating, however. I know others may feel the same.  

That’s why I have scoured the internet for tips and tricks to create a picture-perfect gallery wall on a budget. Here’s what anyone trying to create a gallery wall for themselves needs to know:  

Pick the Right Wall  

The wall can’t be too small; it can’t be too big; it needs to be just right for you and your vision. When dreaming of a gallery wall, select a wall that can hold multiple frames. Hallways, above the living room sofa, along the staircase, or above the dining room tables are suitable places to consider when starting.  

Look on Pinterest 

Whether you make your own Pinterest board or simply look at other people’s Gallery Wall Pins, Pinterest is a wonderful place to begin brainstorming. Decide what color palette you’d like to use, usually sticking to two or three colors with a handful of neutrals. After pinning some inspiration, begin collecting pieces for your gallery wall.  

Collect Pieces Over Time  

All the art doesn’t need to be bought overnight. During the gathering process, there is no need for rhyme nor reason—when shopping, simply think “oh this makes me smile.” Set aside a predetermined amount each month to spend on your gallery wall. Gradually at antique shops, farmers markets, and on vacations, pick pieces of your favorite people, places, and things that speak to you.  

Same For Frames 

New can be (but doesn’t have to be) the name of the game here. Repurposing frames laying around your space or buying frames secondhand is a terrific way to cut down on costs and add character to your gallery wall.  

Make a Template  

Once you’ve decided which framed pieces to use, tape up a template by tracing the frames and cutting outlines made from poster or wrapping paper. This way, you can move around the mock images as you see fit, ultimately helping you design the ideal gallery wall. A good place to start is by placing your biggest template in the middle of the wall. Then, build outward.  

Trace and Place 

If you like the look of your template, it’s time to begin placing the pieces. Make light pencil marks on the wall on all four corners of the paper templates’ perimeters. Next, let the fun begin. Take down the paper and hang each piece one by one.  

Secure the Frames  

The best way to secure your frames is with command strips or earthquake putty. This makes for easy installation that’s made to stay put, with minor damage if there ever comes a time when the gallery wall must come down.  

Relax and Enjoy 

Now that your fabulous gallery wall is complete, sit back, relax, and maybe snap a photo or two of your new gallery wall, full of dopamine décor. With your picture-perfect gallery wall complete, I hope your space feels a bit more joyful and true to you.