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: