Redecorating the Living Room – Part 4: Gallery Wall of Artwork

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 here

Now that the hard work of repainting is finished, I can start the fun project of re-arranging my artwork into a dynamic gallery wall. I love those collections of beloved artwork that combines photos, paintings, prints and other objects for a unique collection.

I currently have a collection of eight similarly themed prints by local Boise artist, Ward Hooper, all matted and framed the same size. I love these prints that feature unique aspects of Boise life in a gorgeous vintage style. I currently have these in groups of 1-3 all along the same horizontal plane. However, I also have other unique pieces and items that I want to incorporate on my walls as well. I know that my challenge will be to use many of the same sized pieces but separating them, so they don’t appear to all be so matchy-matchy.

As usual, I spent a lot of time looking online at catalogs and websites to find inspiration for my arrangement.  Here are the inspiration photos from Pinterest to show what I am trying to achieve:

I love how random this arrangement appears, but it is actually symmetrical.

I like this arrangement, but I think I like the lamp better than the frames.

Elegant writing desk with gold-colored bamboo frames


Lovely blue background

I love the eclectic mix of objects…some aren’t even framed

West Elm has several lovely gallery wall arrangements. This one is unified with similar colors in the matting and the artwork.

I like how they balanced the corner column with the artwork.

This one continues on to the tabletop for a casual arrangement.

I started out by laying out all of the artwork on the floor. I even included items from other places in the house to see if I could create new combinations. I even dug out some vintage framed paint-by-numbers to see if they should be included as well. For the first arrangement next to the mantle, behind the Eames-styled chair, I selected pictures that all had the color red in them.

I started with a framed ad from a magazine advertising the Esther Williams film, The Duchess of Idaho (silly movie, but better than Sun Valley Serenade which is also set in Sun Valley, Idaho and features a figure skater, Sonia Henie, rather than swimmer, Esther Williams); my favorite Ward Hooper, Cottage on the Bench (the Bench is the part of Boise where my little cottage is located); a print of The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano; a collage of vintage and vintage-looking Boise postcards; and a simple collage of the front and back of the CarrieTown postcard along with papers torn from a paper-sample catalog (the frame fit the space, so I created the collage in five minutes to fit the space). I laid them out on the floor to determine the placement of the frames.

I did as Martha Stewart instructed, and measured the frames, and then cut out those sizes in butcher paper. I carefully measured the distances between the photos, and then emulated these measurements onto the wall, taping the appropriate piece of paper to the wall to gauge placement. Once I was happy with the placement, I then measured where the hanger should be, and nailed in a picture hanger into the wall.

Once the picture hangers were up, I then hung the artwork in the proper place. Here is the final result:

Precise yes, but that took WAY too long. For the wall closest to the bookshelf, I took a more organic free-form approach. I started with the largest piece, a painting of daisys my Grandma painted in the 1980’s. I then selected other pieces that had similar colors or elements. I also wanted to use a framed map of the old mining community of CarrieTown, Idaho because, hey, it’s CarrieTown, an I’m CarrieTown. I then selected the Warm Springs print and the Les Bois print for the green colors and to bring in the reoccurring element of the flowers. I added another green with the Boise River print. And for fun, a small gate to echo the fence in Grandma’s painting. For the final element, I added a vintage Idaho souvenier plate and clipped a postcard of the Boise River to the gate to tie it all together.

To create the arrangement, I started with the painting, and hung it a little higher than usual, to leave room for items below. I then just held frames up and then guessed at the picture hanger placement. I warned you that it was a more organic process. Once I was finished with the wall, I hung the Les Bois print on the opposite wall to connect the arrangement with the bookshelf arrangement. Since there are white flowers in a vintage vase on the bookshelf, it too connects the theme.

Here is the final result:

I am so happy with this arrangement. I love how casual it seems, but yet every item is connected in simple ways. I like the other arrangement, but I am most pleased with the way this wall turned out.

I still have two more walls to go, but I need to gather more items together to create them. I think I need to incorporate more photos, and more varying sizes. I also want more unique elements, like the small gate and the souvenir plate.

For my next project, arranging the bookshelf and giving my knick-knacks a trash-to-treasure makeover.



Redecorating the living room – Part 3: trash to treasure lamps and end tables

Part 1, Part 2

As I was preparing to paint the living room, my neighbor came over to tell me about the estate sale she would be holding first thing Friday morning. I anxiously awaited the event, which is the best kind of yard sale, the kind you can walk to and from. My proximity also meant I could be one of the first people at the sale.

Talk about a score, I managed to get two lamps, two tables and a leather chair and recliner. The tables and lamps were probably purchased together, along with the chair when the house was built in the 1950’s. They fit so well together, I decided to get rid of my mismatched lamps and tables, as well as the reclining chair that was a recent hand-me-down from my parents.

However, as cool and mid-century as the lamps were, the gold color and dingy lampshades will not do. The lamps are enormous, which will look great with my enormous couch. Within ten minutes of returning home, I was wiping down the lamps and shaking up the spray paint. I used one of the colors left over from my chair project.

When the first coat was drying, I realized I would need more spray paint to do the job. That also meant I could make a trip to Home Fabrics for some fabric for the shades. (An aside about Home Fabrics, this is THE BEST store for decorator fabrics and rugs…some bolts as low as $1 a yard. Their hours are terribly inconvenient, but the store is fantastic!)

I found some barkcloth in a retro print that is mid-century-ish. Mom volunteered to cover the shades using spray adhesive and grosgrain ribbon. I painted the other lamp, and here is the result:


Here is a before & after photo of the final product in the room:



Redecorating the living room – Part 2: selecting the paint colors

This is Part 2 of my living room redecorating project. For part 1, click here.

As I mentioned in part 1, I want to warm up the room visually, and if possible, avoid painting the ceiling. I love the look of warm browns, combined with soft blue and bright turquoise, as seen here:

Or here:

And my favorite example:

I really debated about whether to paint my walls blue or a light taupe color. It is really, really difficult for me to pick taupe over a color, but I like how it is used in this image as a blank canvas for all the other colors. This photo also has the perfect lamps and a fun combination of patterns and textures.

This is a more casual example–I especially love the turquoise table:

For all of these images that were the perfect combination of browns, neutrals and blues, the photo that inspired me the most is this one:

This photo doesn’t even use the same colors, but I love how bright and cheery the room is. Plus, it uses a mixture of vintage and vintage-like furniture and patterns.

In the end, I realized that since the room has North facing-windows, the room will always veer to the blue spectrum and painting the walls blue or grey would exacerbate the problem. So, taupe it is, with blue-green accents.

I spent WAY too much time playing  with ColorSmart by Behr on the iPad, only to realize that most of the colors are vastly different on the paint swatch. I knew I wanted to use Pecan Sandie by Behr, because it is already in my guest room and hallway and it works really well with my other colors. However, there was still the very important accent color for the back of the built-in bookcase next to the fireplace. I finally just went to Home Depot and rolled the dice on my accent color based on the paint chip.

This is the final Behr color scheme, which includes the green ceiling color:

As I was painting, I realized quickly that I would not have enough for the entire room with just 1 gallon of paint. My frugal (cheap) nature kicked in, and I decided to have an accent wall–using the remaining paint from my bathroom, Scotland Road. In the end, I can justify this as a carefully choreographed design decision, but it was mostly because I didn’t want to go all the way back to the store to buy 1 more gallon of paint! However, you can see the bathroom from the living room, so it does look nice together.

Here is a sneak peak of the final result:

Redecorating the living room – Part 1: creating a moodboard

One of the main items on my summer to do list was to redecorate the living room.

The main problem in my living room is since it is a Northern facing room, the light that comes in the two large windows is a bluish or cooler temperature hue than a Southern facing room. Also, since I acquired my leather sofa, the dark green walls, the dark red fireplace and bookcase, and the black leather club chair are all too dark. If possible, I also want to avoid painting the ceiling which is currently a soft green.

This is the (poorly taken panoramic) before photo of the living room:

I envisage a number of projects for this room makeover, so I will break them up into separate posts, so the entire project won’t be too unwieldy.

I have been drooling over colors, pinning ideas to Pinterest,  and asking everyone from family, coworkers and Facebook friends to weigh in on their opinion. So to help consolidate all of these ideas into one package, I created a moodboard for inspiration.

Olioboards allows you to use their sample furniture, drapery and accessory photos, but I found it works best if you visit your favorite websites, like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Ballard Designs, etc, to find furniture you already own, or stuff you would like to own. Download the image onto your computer and then upload it to your moodboard. For my living room moodboard, I even sampled the paint color and made an image of just the color in Photoshop, which allowed me to have the paint color in the background of the image. I am such a visual person I need to see the “walls” painted and the furniture and fabric painted as well.

I also uploaded photos of my curtains, rug and fireplace to match colors and accessories. Here is the final draft:

living room 2
The furniture, isn’t an exact match, but as an inspirational tool, creating a moodboard on Olioboard is really helpful. You can save it on their website, download the image, or share it on pages like Facebook and Pinterest.

For the next post, selecting the paint colors.

Friday Adventures – Downs Estate Auction

Friday, May 25 – Downs Auction, Eagle, ID

My parents occasionally attend estate auctions on Fridays, and their favorite ones are run by Downs Auctions. They new I was looking for a new leather couch, so they invited me to go along with them to this estate auction. It was a great auction to attend, as it contained two estates as well as motorcycles, autos and even a boat. My father was there for the collectible toys, but I was interested in the items from a Sun Valley bed & breakfast. The first three hours were in the rain, but once we came back from lunch, the rain subsided, and by then they were onto the stuff I was interested in.

The first item I bid on was a little brass key attached to a motel keychain from a long-since closed hotel in Ontario, Oregon. I picked up this unique treasure for $5–I should have waited a couple more minutes, and I could have bid lower as I was the only bidder, but I hadn’t learned the ropes yet. The second item I bid on(and won), is rather silly, but it seemed like a deal that was too good to pass up. I mean, who doesn’t need a silver-plated serving dish for $7.50? Perfect for those formal dinners I am never throwing.

After lunch, I had finally learned the protocol, and was ready for action. I had my number-card in hand, and was ready, so when they got to the wrought-iron couch and matching coffee table, I knew it would look great on my porch. It was me against another woman in her twenties, but when the gavel hit, it was mine…technically there wasn’t a gavel, but you get the drift. I then bid on the two chairs and end table from the same set, and also won those. The entire set was $120–which is such a great deal. These are really high-end pieces that will never wear out.

The final item I bid on was a gorgeous top-grain leather sofa. I wasn’t the highest bidder, but since there were two couches, once the winning bidder said he only wanted one of them, I was able to purchase the other couch since I was the second highest bidder. After I won it, I then started to think of the logistics of how I was going to get everything home. My father made it work though. It was like the Jode Family making the journey from the dust bowl to California, but we made it work. This was a very profitable Friday adventure!

Colorful chairs for outdoor dining

Inspired by the last scene in the film, Chocolat, I decided that my back porch needed a long rustic farmhouse table with colorful chairs. I can just picture fun meals spent with family and friends around the table, lit by candlelight all summer long.

So, for the first step, I scouted out the local thrift stores for kitchen chairs. My friend and my mother both independently saw these chairs and they were right. They are comfortable and sturdy, even though there were only three, they were a steal at $9 each.


I was so excited to start the project, I forgot to get a before photo, but all three were the ugly orange wood. I cleaned them and lightly sanded down any rough spots before painting them with spray paint. This one is my favorite because of the gorgeous peacock-blue color.


For the next chairs, I visited 20 different yard sales, before I found the perfect set of chairs. These had been stripped and redone by the previous owner. She was apologetic that she hadn’t finished covering all of the seats, but she was nice enough to give me the fabric so I could cover the last chair.

These were also a great deal at $40 for the set.


This is my color palette for the chairs:


The first chairs took 1 1/2 cans each, but the cushioned chairs only took 3/4 a can each.

The finished set of four without their chair pads.


The next step is to paint all of these with an additional coat of exterior water-based Polyurethane. The spray paint alone might work fine since they will be under a covered patio, but since they will also be around food and beverage, better to be safe than sorry.


This photo shows the fabulous fabric the upholstered seats came with. I didn’t try to match the paint to the fabric, but it looks fantastic with all of the different colors.

The turquoise chair didn’t take spray paint well, so I sanded off the bubbly bits so I could repaint it, but I think I like it distressed. Since none of the other chairs are Shabby-Chic, I am not sure it I will keep it distressed or not.

Here is the complete set:


The next project will be the rustic farmhouse table. The table in the photograph is one of those ugly particleboard folding tables with a multitude of craftroom scars…hence the tablecloth.

Friday Adventures – War Horse Load-In and Sloth Bear Exhibit at Zoo Boise

Friday, May 18 – War Horse Load-in and Zoo Boise Sloth Bear Exhibit Sneak Peak

My niece, Cameron accompanied me on this adventure. After visiting a couple of thrift stores for my outdoor dining chairs, we stopped by the Morrison Center to use the rest room and pick up something from my office. While we were there, the crew of the National Touring Production of War Horse was unloading truck #4 of 16 into the Morrison Center main stage and into the Danny Peterson Theatre. One of my MC colleagues snuck us into the main stage area where we watched them unload more lighting trusses that I ever thought imaginable. I am really looking forward to the production when it opens in the Morrison Center June 6th.

The main adventure for that day was to check out the renovation of the new Sloth Bear exhibit at Zoo Boise. My co-worker, Fran Maxwell and Mike Baltzell had been tasked to refurbish an old exhibit to make it look like Jodhpur, India with colorful fabrics, painting techniques and more blue paint than I have ever seen in my life. I did the graphic design for 11 signs for the exhibit, so it was nice to be able to see where my signs will be located.

Fran gave Cameron and I a behind the scenes tour of the enclosure, and we even got to peek inside where he will live. The bear, Paji hadn’t moved in yet, but it will be neat the next time we see it, he will be enjoying the space. This was a special experience and I am so thankful for Fran for taking time out of her busy schedule to show us around.

Friday Adventures – Idaho Botanical Garden

I am lucky enough to have a job that affords me Wednesdays & Fridays off during the summer. Not wanting to waste this precious time, I decided that Wednesdays would be my home-work days, where I would run the errands, work at home, etc. But Fridays would be a nice day to experience new or non-routine activities to expand my horizons and to create some special memories.

This is the first of these Friday adventures.

Friday, May 11 – Idaho Botanical Garden

My co-worker and friend, Ann Price and I took advantage of a gorgeous Spring day and the National Public Gardens free admission day at the Idaho Botanical Garden. I can’t remember the last time I was at this delightful garden, when I wasn’t attending for a wedding, or Winter Garden A-Glow. It was a lovely day with a slight breeze, and Ann and I learned about drought tolerant plants and climbed to the top of the Lewis & Clark trail, nestled under Tablerock. We got a flyer for their intimate in-garden concert series. That sounds like a fun evening, bring your picnic basket and enjoy some of Boise’s favorite bands. I will definitely have to go for Non-Fat John’s concert.

Jewelry Display Board – Permanent

The last jewelry display board I blogged about is the one I use for shows and for my studio. The foam-core board makes it lightweight, and the cubicle clips work well for earring cards and one or two necklaces. However, for my own day-to-day jewelry storage, I needed something a little more robust.

Working with an old frame, I cut a piece of plywood to fit inside the frame. I then decoupaged this with scraps of my favorite scrapbook and vintage paper. I wiped on some gel paint in burnt umber to create age and dimension. Then a couple of coats of spray poly to protect it.

To hang the jewelry, I shopped around and found a floral drawer pull that Lowes had on clearance. I then created a grid of where the pulls would be. I wanted the majority of the storage to be for long necklaces, but I also wanted some for shorter ones. I drilled holes for the screws and then screwed on the drawer pulls.

I then hung the board in my room, and now I have a fantastic place to store my jewelry that also becomes a design element in the room.

Jewelry Display Board

I created this display board for an upcoming show and wanted to share the process with you.

I took an old frame from a mirror and cut a piece of foam core board to fit inside the frame. I used spray adhesive and glued fabric to the foam board. I then took clips made for cubicle walls and inserted them into the foam core. For this step, you need to wear gloves, because the clips are sharp and you are poking through to the back of the foam board.

To finish the back, I duct taped the sharp clips to the board. The back looks horrible, but who is going to see the back? The frame already had hanging hardware, so I just hung it on the wall. Here is the finished result.