Category Archives: Mera’s House

Mera’s House: Four Lessons From a Second Attempt at a TV Gallery Wall

The room that we call the Adult Lounge is definitely one of my favorites in our house.  This is the room that we retreat to after Opal is in bed to watch our favorite shows (Homeland Season 4 is SO good.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say don’t be put off by Seasons 2 & 3, or Brody and his liver lips.).  When I first shared this room on the blog, the gallery wall behind the TV sparked major controversy (which in RHW terms means one or two people commented that they weren’t sold).  Here is what is looked like then:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

The idea behind this arrangement was that if the TV overlapped the artwork, it would make the TV seem less important, like it gathers dust in a closet until the Winter Olympics roll around every four years.  A few readers commented that it actually did the reverse; to them the artwork seemed diminished, or even eclipsed, by the all-important boob-tube.

What made me decide to change it in the end was the imbalance of space above and below the table.  The table is the Strut table by Blu Dot, and I love it for its crazy color and simple modern shape.  But the open space below the table top, delicately bisected by the struts, was a mismatch with the too-tight artwork arrangement.

I decided to re-hang the gallery wall using the same pieces, with a few additions and subtractions from things I already had.  The goal was to create more breathing room between the frames, while still giving the eye plenty to look at.  I think it looks a lot better:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Here are four tips I learned along the way for creating a successful TV gallery wall:

1. Include Plenty of Black

Until the innovators out there start making TV screens that are not dark as midnight, TV gallery walls will need lots of black.  To even slightly distract the eye from the black abyss, you need artwork with similarly heavy visual weight in the mix.  I think mine would look better and be more effective with a few more black or dark pieces, or if the dark pieces didn’t have white mats.

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

2.  Let The Frames Breathe

In the old arrangement the frames were nearly touching, which I think in some contexts can look relaxed and interesting.  But when you’re creating a gallery wall around a TV, you’re trying to give the eye other places to rest, and the eye doesn’t know where to stop if there’s no space between the artwork (the word gestalt popped into my head when I was thinking about this, but even though I’ve googled it several times I still can’t decide whether the old arrangement had too much or too little).  All of which is to say that even with a loosely composed arrangement like this around a TV, you want at least two or three inches between frames.

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

3.  Use Art Similar in Shape and Size to the TV

In the old arrangement I had one huge painting (by Carol Crump Bryner, which is now on the wall to the right), and lots of bitty pieces.  The effect was that the arrangement wasn’t just unbalanced top to bottom, it was also much weightier on the right than on the left (made worse by the bushy rubber tree below the painting).  In the new arrangement I tried to use more large-scale pieces, but none so huge that they make the smaller ones seem like unimportant filler.   I used art I already had on this wall, but in the future I’ll keep an eye out for horizontally oriented rectangular pieces, similar in shape to the TV.

That's the look I get when I'm taking blog pictures instead of helping carry in groceries from Costco.

That’s the look I get when I’m taking blog pictures instead of carrying in groceries from Costco.

4.  Use Art With Meaning

A lot of meaningless drivel pours out of the TV — I’ve been known to sit down to an episode or two or five of America’s Next Top Model.  In the grips of a vacuous binge, glancing over at artwork with personal meaning pulls me from the shameful mire and restores me to myself.  For me there’s no better reality check in the midst of a vapid reality show than the reproachful gaze of my dearly beloved, and sadly departed, dog Megan:

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Red House West || TV Gallery Wall

Megan wore this sweet tag that Katie gave her for years and if I close my eyes I can still hear the jingle of it on her collar.

So, there you have it, my four tips for a successful TV gallery wall.  Any other advice to add to the list?  Thanks!

Mera’s House: New Master Bedroom Decisions

The plan for our new bedroom is to use most of our existing furniture, but one thing we are definitely getting or making is a new bed.  The rooms that I’ve been drawing inspiration from mostly have upholstered beds, but I’ve also wanted a spool bed for a long time.  We can’t use a true four-poster because the ceilings are too sloping and low, but a low-post bed could work.

Here is a refresher on what we’re working with; the plan is to paint the wood-panelled walls and ceiling white, rip up the carpet to reveal the finished fir below, and build a new closet:

Red House West || Bedroom Decisions Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.09.13 PMThe current bed is beautiful, but it is a full and we definitely need a queen at least (both of us are all shoulders).  In the images below, the sloping ceilings and placement of the beds is similar to the layout of our bedroom.  While I wouldn’t choose exactly these beds (they wouldn’t fit in our bedroom without poking holes in the ceiling anyway), these pictures convince me that vertical posts can work well with a sloped ceiling.

I put together two mood boards using the rug I already have (purchased on eBay) and a few other things that I want to include in our bedroom to see how it would come together.

Master Bedroom version 1

Classic and pretty, but I’m worried it’s headed toward being stuffy.  Also, the bedside lamps are floating in space because I know we will use our Broyhill Brasilia nightstands, but they don’t look right with the spool bed.  It’s like when my hair was down past my waist and I could really only do one look, the renaissance fair maiden cum hippie mermaid, and then I cut my hair to shoulder length and felt like I could pull off anything from Debbie Harry to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The spool bed is butt-length hair — pretty, but it defines the whole look.

With an upholstered bed the rest of the room can still be anything it wants.  Here are two rooms with upholstered headboards, where there is a lot of other color and pattern:

Here’s the second mood board using an upholstered headboard in a pretty fabric called “blue dandelion.”  If we go this route, I would probably have the bed made (I’ve had good luck with hiring marine upholsters for this sort of thing.  They’re precise and don’t charge an arm and a leg), or try to DIY it.  The bed would be straight across the back instead of curved.

Plans for a New Bedroom, version 2

See that triangle-shaped full-length mirror?  The idea came from the image below, and I love it, but it’s yet another thing that doesn’t work with a spool bed.

So that’s what I’m mulling over right now, and I’d love to get your input.  Upholstered or spool? Thanks!

Mera’s House: Updates in Opal’s Bedroom

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In case you missed it, my beloved, esteemed, dazzling, exceptional co-blogger Katie B. is a finalist in the Design*Sponge essay contest!  The winner will be chosen by popular vote, set to begin on Friday.  All of the essays posted so far have been great reads, but if you ask me Katie’s is head and shoulders above the rest. THAT’S MY FRIEND!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Neither Chester nor I speak a second language or play an instrument, and we’re not particularly artistic, either.  Basically we are boring parents whose idea of a good time involves eating oatmeal every morning and every evening watching 45 minutes of PBS programming while wearing non-constricting clothing (if you haven’t seen Poldark you haven’t lived!).  Luckily for Opal our extended family more than fills in the dull and uncultured spaces (chasms?) left by us.  We’re hoping that she will pick up some musicality from her trumpet-playing grandpa, a love of languages from her aunt from Thailand or her uncle from Serbia, and a creative inclination from her two artist grandmas.  Cuz lawd knows she ain’t gettin’ it from us.

Chester’s mom Katy is a painter (who has her own blog which you should definitely be reading).  She sends Opal the sweetest watercolor postcards, and we’ve amassed quite a collection.  I have been trying to figure out how to display them for a long time, with an eye toward this blank wall in Opal’s room:

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

I thought about framing the postcards and hanging them here, but I was reluctant because framing would conceal the little notes on the back.  The notes are so loving and totally magical to Opal — one of them has a small envelope taped to it that contains a little tuft of bunny fur that Granny Katy found in her garden.  So I really wanted Opal to be able to look at both sides of the cards and interact with them and, eventually, read them.

The solution I came up with is inelegant, but it achieves the objectives of displaying the original artwork while not hiding the messages on the back: I velcroed them to the wall.

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Because they are not framed, and because they are meant to be moved around and enjoyed by a three year old, I wanted to make sure the velcro pieces were evenly placed so that the arrangement would be as tidy as possible.  I arranged the postcards on the floor and figured out the outer dimensions, and then drew a grid on the wall in pencil.  I found the center of each box in the grid and put a half inch square of velcro there, and on the center of each postcard.

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

You can just barely see the grid lines in the photo on the right. Erasing them took longer than all the other steps in this project combined.

I really like the way it turned out; it makes the room feel more complete and, best of all, very personal.

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Opal and Chester went for a hike while I was putting this together.  She came home exhausted, with her pants on sideways and covered in chocolate milk and dirt, but here is a video of the first time she saw the postcards on the wall:

I’m with Opal, I like all of them, but here are a few of my favorites close up:

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

And here is Cromwell, happily bathing in the sunshine and demonstrating that the artist’s rendition is kind.

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

We also recently converted Opal’s crib to a toddler bed.  I never thought she’d sleep for so long in her crib, but she did, happily and without incident.  Then on a recent day she declared that she was going to sleep on the floor because her baby brother (who is imaginary) was asleep in the crib.  We pulled the mattress out and put it on the floor, and there she slept for the next few nights until we finally took the hint and got the toddler bed conversion kit out of the basement.

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

Red House West || Updates in Opal's Room

So that’s the latest in Opal’s room.  Thanks to you for reading along, and a huge thanks and much love to Granny Katy for sending Opal such beautiful original art in postcard form, and for letting me share it here.

Oh, and if you’re a RHW subscriber don’t be alarmed if you receive an extra email from us this week.  It’s just me, reminding you to VOTE 4 K80 in the Design*Sponge essay contest!