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8 Easy Steps For Planning A Gallery Style Art Wall

I’m working together with Minted to present a series of posts on decor8 about planning and installing affordable, beautiful framed art at home with prints by artists far and wide. This is the first of three posts where I provide quick and easy advice on how I plan gallery style art wall because there is a rhyme and reason to it regardless of how many times you hear designers instructing you to just wing it. That may work, but only after your wall has a ton of nail holes and spackle marks.

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To be fair, yes designers CAN wing it. But that’s only after installing dozens of art walls for clients — after awhile you can eyeball stuff and intuitively know where it should hang.  But there are still some ground rules that are followed in the selection and arrangement whether the designer realizes it or not. Because that designer had to learn in the beginning and you can believe they learned art wall 101 – the importance of balance, telling a story through the work, hanging the focal point piece at eye level, etc. And they learned through a ton of trial, error and spackle paste.

HOW DO YOU PLAN AN ART WALL? 

I don’t know about you, but I rummage through what I currently own that hasn’t been hung yet, or in this case, I go and buy it all at once because I have a deadline and need to get my work studio finished by the end of November. No time to build my collection over time. And I see no problem with that. I’m buying prints, not fine art originals, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of thought behind each piece other than, Do I love it? Yes. Do the colors work? Yes. Does it work with what I’m already planning to use? Yes. Then it’s onto size, type of framing, with it be matted, etc. So when it comes to planning, the first step is to love the work and find the right spot for it in your home.

HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT WORK?

My first thought for this particular project was: what do I want this room to convey? Energy and joy. This is quickest to achieve through color and works that don’t take themselves too seriously. So no portraits of people, no black and white city views, nothing that makes you think too hard. I wanted a wall that you would look at quickly and simply feel energized and happy. Not much more. No story telling or deep emotional tales of love and war. I guess if you call my wall a person, she would be Cameron Diaz. Peppy, happy, fun, not too deep, a twinkle in her eye, feminine, free-spirited, energetic as all hell.

WHAT IS YOUR THEME OR MOOD?

Questions worth asking when choosing art for a salon style wall include: Do you plan to show favorite patterns and shapes, colors or a theme -like that you love to travel? Are you showing only family photos? Do you want to mix paintings with photography? Will you mix original works with prints and even three dimensional objects, like porcelain objects, old keys, rulers, etc.? For my wall, I’m going to mix in three dimensional objects after I install the wall, but for now I’m simply planning out the art and I’ll fill the spaces after everything is up. I like to work backwards sometimes. My theme is around patterns and shapes but beyond that, it was a mood I was going for: energy and joy.

WHAT ABOUT FRAMES?

As far as frame colors go, neutrals all tend to work well together – white, natural wood and black. When you introduce metallics, stained woods, colored frames, etc. things can start to become visually distracting. In most cases, you don’t want the frame to be the focal point, but the artwork inside. I believe the frame shouldn’t contrast with the art too much, unless you are working with a monochromatic scheme (black art, white frame). So if you have a dark plum-color painting then having it framed in natural wood or black is more complementary and warmer – a stark white frame would make the contrast too great in my opinion.

For my project, I wanted to mix and match the frames, mostly white since I thought they’d stand out nicely against the slightly gray walls in this space and I wanted some with wooden frames to complement the sideboard. Frame width is also important. Do you want it super slim, a few inches wide, or wider? Lots of country-style frames tend to be wood and very thick – almost like four barn floor planks made into a frame. Modern art galleries favor super slim frames for works-behind-glass. Like pencil width. It’s your choice and really about preference more than anything. If you like it, who cares if it’s not typical or common.

HOW ABOUT MATTING?

I like work that is framed and matted but I also am happy with just frames. For these works, I went with just frames. I like the look of work filling the entire area.  Mostly, when I do go with matting I go with pure white or linen. It depends on the print and the room, but either works very nicely. White shows off the work 100%, linen adds texture and warmth.

HOW DO YOU PLAN OUT AND INSTALL A GALLERY WALL?

If you lack patience like me, you can “wing it”. Planning complicates the process for me. The only real planning I do is that I measure the wall and then use Photoshop to mock up how I see the art (not 100% to scale but somewhat). I usually gather all of the work together in front of where I plan to install it and lay it out on the floor, playing with the arrangement until it looks right. In this case, I used my dining room tables since the art wall will go above the sideboard. If winging it isn’t your plan of attack, here are 8 steps so you can plan it like the pros.

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HOW TO PLAN A GALLERY ART WALL IN 8 STEPS:

 

1.  SIZE MATTERS: Measure the wall area where you plan to install the art

2.  HUNT & GATHER: Gather large pieces of solid paper in white or brown — so wrapping paper, butcher paper, any large pieces you can find, and tape them all together to form one very large sheet of paper. This will most likely be about the size of a bed when you are finished.

3.  GET LAID: Lay all of your art on the paper and move it around until it looks good. Until the arrangement speaks to you.(In my case, I laid all of my art out on the table directly in front of the wall where I plan to install it.)

4.  HOCUS FOCUS: Make sure the focal point of your salon grouping (the boldest piece) is hung at eye level either in the center of the arrangement or slightly off center- and then place all pieces around it from there.

5.  THAT’S TIGHT: For a tight grouping of art, try places them 3” apart. I don’t suggest planning your salon style wall in a symmetrical arrangement – it’s too hard to get right and a bit boring. I think the best spacing between frames is around 4-5” apart because then each piece can breath.

6.  TRACE ELEMENTS: After the art is laid out in an arrangement that you like, trace all of the frames with a black magic marker (quick drying).

7.  I’LL STICK YOU: The next step is to stick the massive sheet of paper* to the wall, in the exact position where the art will go. Tape it using painter’s tape so it doesn’t tear the wall when you remove it. Make sure the art heights and distances between pieces look right.

8.  WELL HUNG: Hang the art directly over the paper with nails and then carefully cut out or tear down the paper when all of the art is hung. You should be left with an art wall with work in all the right places. If not, then lather, rinse and repeat. It may take a little tweaking – my first gallery style art wall was a hot mess.

In my second post in this series, I’ll link you up to all of the works that I selected at Minted along with the frame styles and sizes. My final post of this series will be the big reveal, so stay tuned!

A big thanks to Minted for sponsoring my salon style art wall project.

* An alternative to a large sheet of paper is to use brown paper bags from the grocery store, cut them to be the same size as the art, and move them around on the wall until they look right.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in diy on November 06, 2014

8 Things I Found This Past Weekend

I really enjoyed the first installation of 8 Things I Found This Past Weekend so I decided to do another and maybe I’ll continue with these because I love sharing bits of the precious, unique, interesting and/or simply cool stuff that I discover. Plus, I love to shop for myself, my family and friends which means I come across a lot of good stuff in my pursuit of cute. Here are 8 things that made me smile, I hope they do the same for you.

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1. iPAD SLEEVE. Finally! I found the perfect soft gold leather sleeve for my iPad and a big bonus, it has an interiors scene on the inside. I purchased it at Raumformplan in Hannover, it’s a Dutch brand called Keecie. I’ve also ordered this in minty dusty green from the Keecie web shop today to pop in my handbag to hold my iPhone 6 Plus – it’s the perfect size.

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2. GIFT BAGS + TAGS. I bought these from Ferm Living for gift giving – a nice change from the typical gift bags with ribbon handles. I love the geometric tags and stickers too.

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3. COOKBOOK. Karen Mordechai, whom I’ve met in person several times (she is as lovely as you’d expect!) wrote her debut book, Sunday Suppers, named after the supper club she started that sells out each time she throws one in her super bombastic Brooklyn studio. This woman is a dynamo. This cookbook is gorgeous. A big thanks to her literary agent for passing a copy along to me.

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4. NESTING DOLLS. I picked up these plastic animal nesting dolls at a favorite local shop called Goldfisch in Hannover (Linden). They are from a Swedish brand called OMM Design.

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5. CARDS. I found these cards at another great shop in Hannover (Linden) called Gunilla. I love that 3 out of 4 of them have stuff that you can remove and use. They are by Petra Boase in the UK.

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6. MINI SUITCASE. I just had to have this little hedgehog suitcase for Aidan’s room. We have these critters running around outside, you’ll find them in gardens and in the forest behind my house, and I just adore them. This was also from the Hannover shop, Goldfisch, but the label inside traces its origins to the Dot Com Gift Shop.

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7. BABY BOOTS. After spending way too much money on handmade leather shoes for my crawling baby boy, I decided that it was just plan frivolous spending to spend so much money on shoes for a child that doesn’t even walk. Since we still take him to the sandbox in the playground, and for long stroller rides each day, his little feet still need protecting from the elements. I found these beige boots at our local H&M and fell in love with not only the low price but how adorbable they look on his tiny legs with his leggings tucked into them. It is way more fun than I imagined to dress a little boy.

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8. WALLPAPER. This golden pineapple wallpaper, Pina Sola, by Aimee Wilder is being installed in my entryway AS I TYPE THIS. I can’t WAIT to show you guys the before and after. You can follow the progress on my Instagram account @decor8. My current entry way does not say WELCOME, it says GO AWAY. That had to change. Why not use an emblem of hospitality, and something that connects me to my southern heritage – the pineapple?

Hope you enjoyed my finds! Spot anything you love?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in round-up on November 05, 2014

Crushing On These Artists and Photographer Paige French

Through my interview with Emily Jeffords, I discovered photographer Paige French. Then, I discovered something else. Paige is the photographer for Barb Blair’s next book. I wrote the foreword for Barb’s debut book, Furniture Makeovers, so this was a thrilling bit of info to learn of since I adore all things Barb Blair. Now I can’t wait to see her next book because Paige’s photos are tops. Particularly inspiring to me are her photos of artists’ works. Here are some that really jumped off the page for me – the art and the way it was shot. (Click on any image below for a larger view.)

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Raven Roxanne

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle – I don’t know who did these paintings, but adding gold and gold painted men on horseback is by far, the coolest thing I’ve seen lately.

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Erin Mcintosh

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle – I’m IN LOVE with their sofa and rug, but interiors aside how about those paintings? I have to find out who did them – maybe Paige will comment and let us know. Swoon!

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Barb Blair/Knack Studios – This random print washi taped to a concrete wall in Barb’s studio is just SO pretty.

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Raven Roxanne – Don’t you adore seeing an artist at work like this? On the floor, immersed, trousers splattered with color?

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Michelle Armas – Dear GOD these are stunning. I clearly need to go to the south because all of the art in this post seems to be from South Carolina or Georgia. Explains the color palettes and the lightness of the work. I’ve always loved the natural light in my home state. Which explains why, as an adult, I still love light and airy open spaces.

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Britt Bass Turner – Stunning, stunning, stunning.

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Barb Blair/Knack Studios -A pocket of inspiration on Barb’s wall. I loved studying it, to see what she is looking at.

Gosh I love all of this work. You just don’t find paintings like this where I’m living. German art is so different, there is no comparing the stuff coming out of Berlin vs. what is shown above. I miss it.

(images: paige french)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on November 04, 2014

10 Questions + Studio Tour With Fine Artist Emily Jeffords

Looking for artistic inspiration? Feel the need to make something with your hands? How about a studio tour and some advice from a fine artist for those of us who want to try our hand at painting? I first found out about fine artist Emily Jeffords (and blogger) through Minted – I was shopping their site for work to install in my home and came across these. And swoon. It was love at first sight.

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Then a funny thing happened. Out of the blue, Emily contacted me about possibly appearing on my blog. Fate? I’m not sure how many of you know this about me, but I grew up on the coast in South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. Finding out Emily was a SC girl too (she’s in Greenville) sealed the deal – I had to learn more! So I asked her for an interview and studio tour and well, that’s exactly what I’m about to share. I found this interview particularly inspiring for mothers with careers and aspiring painters. Let’s get started.

1.  Hi Emily! First, a little about yourself…
I am an artist and mother of two, working in a 100-year-old light-drenched studio & gallery called the White Whale in Greenville, SC. I create impressionistic landscape oil paintings on canvas featuring lively colors and slightly abstract skies.  My desire is for viewers to be reminded of sweet times past while bringing some beauty to life in the present. I began painting as a child and never stopped! Something about the creative process lets me say things that I cannot say with words – expressing feelings and emotions is so exciting to me.

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2.  Were you classically trained or self-taught?
I graduated with a BFA in 2D fine art, which was so helpful and gave me the confidence to officially call myself an “artist”. However, one of the most helpful things for my artistic career has been doing painting-a-day challenges. The discipline and challenge of creating consistently has taught me SO much about myself and about art.

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3.  What was an advantage of studying fine art and what is your advice for those who didn’t study but want to become a working artist?
It helped me think about creativity in a whole new way. However, I really don’t think you have to go to college to achieve that. In a way, all artists are self-taught. No one can train your eyes or your hands. That’s all on you. If you’re interested in becoming an artist (sans school) here is what I would do: try everything, test out new tools and materials, study the masters, attend workshops taught be professional artists, and soak up as much inspiration as you can!

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4.  What do you love about being a mother and also working as a painter?
Having my girls in my studio brings life and joy to my space and to my work. I can see their influence on my color pallete, subject matter, everything. They make me stop, notice, and enjoy life a little more.

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5.  What do you find challenging about having kids and a career?
My girls have grown up in my studio and around artwork, so they understand the ebb and flow of the creative process. But, they are young, and they are normal kids! When I create, it is so easy to slip into a wonderful focused “headspace”: I block out the world, getting lost in the movement and motion of the process. That’s a little hard to do while also parenting.

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6.  How did you handle that challenge?
When I moved into a studio outside of our home I really wanted to be sure that my girls felt like this is their space to learn and create as well. When they feel involved in the creative process they’re on my side. I talk with them about my ideas and deadlines and in return they tell me about theirs! — we have “mini art” shows pretty frequently and they’re always working on a painting for someone special. ;)

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7.  How do you balance family/work –what is a day in your life like?
Oh goodness, no day is the same … but, if I were to mash them together and come up with an average: mornings spent with my girls at home, some days their tutor comes to the house, others they come with me to the studio, but either way, I head to the studio around 11 am where I spend about 2-3 hours painting. In the afternoon my intern and studio manager might join me, we’ll package prints, mail goodness, send emails, keep all the wheels turning… We have dinner together as a family as often as possible, the girls go to bed and my husband and I relax and do a little more work. Work/life balance is a myth. It’s more of a juggle. The key is communicating with the people in my life, coordinating our needs and finding ways to support each other as often as possible.

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8.  How have you marketed your work?
My “marketing strategy” feels incredibly natural and organic. I simply make an effort to share my artwork and process consistently. I’ve found that people want to take part in creativity – even if they cannot create it themselves every day.

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9.  What is your greatest achievement so far as a painter and what goals do you have for your work going forward?
I think the process; the days all stacked together are my greatest achievement. There are highs and lows and many days in between, but maintaining my passion throughout the journey is something I am super proud of. I would love to collaborate on some more artistic collaborations with some dreamy brands and fashion designers over the next couple years to create products that mix fine art with everyday objects. Having people interact with art in every day ways is super exciting to me.

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10.  What advice can you give those who want to paint but are too scared to “mess up”?
The scariest thing is to start a painting, or anything, really, telling yourself that this thing must be Perfect. It won’t be. Every painting is a practice. Some are going to please you more than others, but the process is the art. Giving yourself space to practice and to try new things is so healthy for your creativity.

Beautiful! Inspiring! Now I want to paint! That’s what a great interview and studio tour does I guess. Motivates.

Tip: Check our Emily’s photos on Instagram here. And you can purchase her work in her Minted shop here.

(images: emily jeffords // paige french)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, interviews on November 04, 2014

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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