Whether you’ve lived in your home for many years or you just moved in last weekend, you may struggle with decorating. You might wonder why the homes you see in magazines and online always look so beautiful while yours seems to look blah or humdrum.

The truth is, there is no one big secret to making a home beautiful, but there are lot of little ones. One of these is to turn an ordinary wall in your home into a gallery wall.

You’ll see lots of examples of this in living rooms — a diamond-shaped pattern of frames containing leaves or flower petals, or the ubiquitous regimented grid of black-and-white images (don’t try it; you’ll go nuts trying to get them even).

If you want your gallery wall to look like a page from Better Homes & Gardens, do it that way. But if you want something that stands out, something that reflects who you are, try mixing lots of different types of images.

This can work really well on a staircase. Most people hang family photos at eye level parallel to the banister. This is great for showing off family photos or reminding yourself of how beautiful you were when you graduated from college. But consider using all the space in the staircase — right up to the ceiling. Each time you descend the stairs, you’ll be treated to a museum-like experience, except each piece will be your favorite.

The key to getting this right is to use images that are large enough. If you hang a picture near the ceiling in the stairwell, it can’t have a lot of detail, or you won’t be able to see it — not just because it’s far away, but because the stairwell isn’t the most well-lit space in the house.

Think movie posters, or the kind of large images you can get at Ikea; Bed, Bath and Beyond; or Marshall’s. You don’t have to choose a cityscape or a reprint of James Dean if you think that’s too common. Browse — you can find something unusual.

Mix up your selection by choosing some photos, some prints, some paintings. Put some abstract art next to a picture of a herd of wildebeests next to a topographical map of Southeast Asia.

If you have children, turn to their elementary-school artwork to help fill the space. Framing can be tres expensive, though. Instead, go to a thrift shop or Goodwill, buy a framed picture, throw out what’s inside and replace it with what you want.

For variety, choose some art that isn’t geometric — a cutout of a butterfly or a tree, for example. Buy some letters at Michael’s and spell out a favorite word. Go with something traditional, like love or life, or something personal to you, like the name of your child or a beloved grandparent.

While you’re at it, include some hangable art that isn’t a picture — framed or otherwise. Plaster, wire, wood and metal sculptures all will bring a different feel to the space. Also consider clocks, mirrors, old windows, wreaths or even macramé. And don’t forget Etsy as a source of one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

You can scale down your pieces as they get lower on the wall where you can see them better. This is the perfect place for family pictures and other, smaller pieces of art.

Of course if you don’t have a stairwell, or you just want to use a different wall, almost any wall in your home will do. For an unusual look, hang your pieces from floor to ceiling — use every inch of space!

One thing to remember when planning your gallery wall is to lay your pieces out on the floor first to see how they will fit and how you want to arrange them. Some websites suggest making paper dummies of each piece and taping them to the wall. You too can try this, if you’re really anal and have a few extra hours on your hands. Otherwise, all you need is a basic idea, a hammer, some nails and a level.

Happy decorating!

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