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By Leah A. Zeldes, Brand Publishing Writer
Those blank staring walls are haunting you. Wherever you look, there they are...just walls. It's time to do something about it. Where to start? Paintings, photographs, posters, mirrors, collector plates, shelves, tapestries...all these add more style and personality to your room. What are your interests? Photos or posters of your favorite people or things make great wall decor. Collections of objects - buttons, jewelry, musical instruments, kitchen utensils, what have you - can be interesting, too.
The first step, says Janet Graham, a designer for Baer’s Furniture, a
group fine furniture stores with 15 showcases throughout Florida,
is to consider your wall. What you hang on it should be in proportion
to the size of the wall and its adjacent furnishings. Don’t put
a small painting alone on a big wall over a large sofa or console,
Graham advises, and don’t let a massive picture overwhelm a small
For walls that are high and narrow, you can make them seem more
to scale by putting a chair rail about a foot from the ceiling, Graham
says. Paint the wall above the rail to match the ceiling, with
the lower wall a different color.
If you want to open up a small room, a large mirror adds the illusion
of more space. Mirror walls have updated from the smoky,
gold-grained mirror tiles of decades ago. Today, Graham says, “We’ll
take a 48-by-84-inch piece of mirror and trim it out,” creating, in
effect, a giant framed mirror.
Place the mirror to reflect a window or other attractive view. “You
never want to place two mirrors across from each other,” says
Graham. “It’s like you’re in a funhouse.”
If you have a lot of wall and no big accent piece to hang on it, or if
you have several smaller pictures and items you want to display, an
art collage can cover any size wall space. A collection of tiny paintings
might be just the right thing for a powder room, while larger
pieces can punctuate an arrangement that goes floor to ceiling on
a large wall.
If your collection of pictures has a wide range of colors and sizes,
you can still make them work together. Graham recommends
taking them all to a frame shop and having them put into colorcoordinated
mats and frames.
Arranging an attractive collage is trickier than it looks, Graham
says. “You need a designer with a good eye.”
Some designers work by laying all the elements out on the floor
first to get an idea of spacing and alignment, while others like to
stick templates cut from paper to the wall itself before hanging
the pictures. Symmetry and spacing are important, the designers
say. The elements should seem balanced.
Kovacic prefers to keep bigger frames toward the center of the
wall, with smaller ones surrounding them.
“You want the collage to feel like one art piece, not like a wallpaper,”
cautions Kovacic. “I personally like to keep the distance
between frames less than 2 inches.”
You might add a pretty plate, a clock or tapestry. Group small items
together in shadow boxes or display them on narrow shelves.
Mixing in three-dimensional objects and interesting shapes adds
more visual interest, Kovacic suggests. “It looks great to mix in one round item with all the frames just to break up the shapes.”
Hanging an elaborate collage is not an easy do-it-yourself job,
Graham warns. She uses a professional picture-hanging service to
make sure that the art is securely and evenly hung, which can be
difficult when there are many pieces close together or heavy ones.
The service is insured in case anything goes wrong, she says, recalling
the damage when a heavy painting mounted in a bathroom
fell and cracked the bathtub.
Whether you mount the art yourself or use a service, be sure there
are two hooks for each painting to help keep the frames level. (For
a picture that just won’t stay put, a piece of double-sided tape or
putty on the back of the frame may do the trick.) Heavy pictures
may need more serious hardware.
If you like to rotate what hangs on your walls, or just play with
the arrangement, a hanging system can make it easy. A modern
variation of the historic painting rail, these are rods from which the
artwork hangs on wires that can be infinitely rearranged without
putting more holes in the wall. These are especially nice for family
photo walls, because you can readily add new pictures as the kids
get older and the family grows.
Beyond art, mirrors and shelves, says Graham, the walls themselves
can be objects of interest, with textured wallpapers, carpentry accents
and paneling. Stonework and decorative tiles provide further
options. While the rec-room tongue-and-grove pine and oak seem
old-fashioned today, Graham says white or light-colored solid
wood paneling fits into contemporary decor and the crisp, coastal
designs many Floridians currently favor. Different designs of moldings
are also popular accents.
“It really adds a lot to have carpentry,” she says.
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