An empty wall inspires the same kind of angst as a blank page. You feel pressure to fill it, but nothing seems quite as brilliant as the pièce de résistance in your head.
The struggle, as they say, is real – and I can relate. When I moved into my house, I stared at an empty wall above my sofa for three years before settling on a triptych of hand-painted fabric encased in shallow acrylic boxes. If that kind of unconventional idea appeals, you could experiment with something similar. Textiles make terrific wall art: Imagine a big piece of kuba cloth in a pale wood frame, a vintage silk scarf or three with crisp white mats and black frames, or a small rug hung tapestry-style.
A gallery wall is a can’t-go-wrong idea, though there are different ways to go about it. Lovers of order should consider an even-numbered grid arrangement with consistent spacing between frames for maximum eye-pleasing symmetry. Just be sure to measure obsessively, as the success of this kind of gallery relies on perfection.
If you’re after a looser, more casual arrangement, a salon-style grouping is the one for you. Start with one focal-point piece at the centre, whether it’s a painting, photograph or mirror, and build out from there, taking liberties with the spaces between the frames.
Another cool approach is to align, say, five to seven frames at the top in a straight line and hang other pieces beneath.
With both of these installation techniques, a unified palette, either in the art itself or the frames and mats, helps to tie it all together.
If you really want to up your gallery-wall-styling game, introduce a few three-dimensional pieces, such as a shallow woven African basket, salvaged sign or plaster corbel. These items give the gallery a collected, well-travelled feel.
One last option is to avoid art altogether and install a mural. I know, I know – murals still give many of us flashbacks to the neon-hued 1980s, when every rec room on the block had a Hawaiian sunset feature wall. But trust me, today’s murals don’t deserve the bad rap and are far more sophisticated, from moody rolling clouds to pastoral country views that look hand-painted. Canadian company NewWall has an inspiring collection that’s worth checking out online; it just might make you a believer.
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