Tag Archives: art

Unexpected Ways to Display Art

There’s absolutely no doubt that art can make or break the way we feel about a space.  It’s often the most personal part of a room, and therefore the most compelling.  We continue to adore gallery walls – you can see the ones in our own homes here and here – but lately we’ve found ourselves especially drawn to art displayed in quirky, unexpected ways.  Here are four ways in which the placement of art is an art unto itself.

1.) The Lowdown

There are a lot of rules out there about the perfect height to hang art, and there’s something intriguing about spaces that are so flagrant in their disregard for those rules.  Paintings hung extra low invite us to investigate.

2.) The Shelfie

We love when art is incorporated into shelf styling, whether it’s hung on the front of a bookcase, in the back of a recessed shelf, or propped amid pottery in a kitchen.

3.) The James Dean Lean

There’s something appealingly impermanent – and perfectly nonchalant – about art that is leaned against a wall rather than hung upon it.  These rooms have mastered the lean – up high, down low, and in a set of three.

4.) Roguish Charm

No place is off limits for displaying art!  Place it over a doorway (or, better yet, on the door), or give a prized piece a place of honor perched upon a chair.


Do you have art displayed in unexpected ways at your house?  We’d love to hear!

Small Victories: Getting Art off the Floor and onto the Wall

Now that our living room is painted and I have a few new tricks for creating inexpensive frames up my sleeve, I thought it was time to give a gallery wall a try.  I have always liked the look of walls filled with art, and I’ve been debating what to put above the credenza for quite a while.  To refresh your memory, here’s a picture of the space I’m talking about:

Red House West//Miller Evolution Paint

The last time I tried hanging a gallery wall – at our old house – it was an abject failure.  In retrospect I think the pictures I hung were too small and the wall too large, but whatever the reason the result wasn’t good.  This time I decided to be more scientific about my approach, so I made a round up of art walls I love then tried to dissect why.  Here are the pictures I referenced:

Looking at these images I decided I like art walls that:

1. Have a mix of sizes and shapes, and a variety of frames (not all matching)

2. Have a loose arrangement – I don’t like a perfect grid, but prefer irregular space between the pictures

3. Have a mix of media

4. Cover the whole expanse of the wall

5. Balance color – it looks more like a collection when there are common colors among the images

The first thing I did was gather my pictures together.  The art for this wall is comprised mostly of woodcuts and drawings, and is a mix of pieces I’ve had for years and a few things I’ve recently picked up at thrift stores.  I measured a space on the floor in the same dimensions as the wall and played around with the arrangement.  In trying to make a balanced composition, I considered the size and color and how much black there was in the image and frame.  I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of this step, but the picture I took is on my phone which is – most inconveniently – in my mom’s car an hour away.  I am pretty alarmed by how unmoored I feel without it.

To make things more cohesive I painted the frame of the portrait black (bottom right in the photo below) and painted the matting of the two kelp drawings with a leftover sample pot from Farrow & Ball (top right).  Once I had an arrangement I liked, Cameron and I worked together to place most of the art on the wall.  We started by hanging the largest picture in the bottom left, then worked our way up and over.  We decided to line up the outside edges of the frames but just eyeballed the spacing otherwise, so the layout wouldn’t be too rigid.  Our living room walls are plaster so we used a drill to make pilot holes for the nails, and we used a little level to make sure things were hanging straight.  There were four pictures I had trouble deciding on where to place, so I traced them onto newspaper and played around with the configuration. Once I figured out their placement, I measured where the nail needed to go for them to hang at the right height and drilled right through the paper.  This method worked great for arranging the smaller frames!

gallery wall with newspaper templates

And here’s the completed wall:

Gallery wall

The picture on the bottom left (by Alaska artist Sydney Bishop) is one of the very first pieces of art I ever bought, back in my transient days when I never lived anywhere long enough to actually hang things up.  I carried it around for ages and then my mom had it framed as a gift a few years ago–I love the style of it and the setting.  The two smaller pieces are also from Alaska, and I like them next to my  $0.99 thrift store drawing and its fabric-covered mat.

gallery wall left sideI was determined to include this art deco frame on the wall.  I liked that the shape was different from all the other frames, and it’s way too pretty to be languishing in a closet.  I don’t have art that fits it though, so I covered a piece of cardboard with black fabric and attached two ravishing airplants.  I just balanced the plants on straight pins so they’ll be easy to take down to water.  They’re looking mighty fine above the adenoidal lady portrait.


As I was taking pictures, Dean got sick of all the attention that he wasn’t getting and decided the gallery wall would be much improved by the addition of a fat fur beast.

gallery wall 2

He was right of course!  I’m liking the gallery wall, and like how the many frames on this wall are balanced by Beatrice’s looming visage on the opposite one (don’t know who Beatrice is?  You can see a picture of her in this post).  Hope you all are having a great week – come back on Friday for a round-up of costume ideas for Halloween!

Easy DIY Ways to Frame Art

I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour.  The rain lasted all morning and the light was flat and gray.  Intimations of the Oregon winter to come, for sure.  It was a cozy morning to be inside, and I sat in the living room with Dean on my lap and coffee in hand.  I am very pleased (and a little bit relieved) to report that the Crystal Ball paint did not turn cold or stark, but was bright and cozy and reflected what little natural light there was.  I have a feeling I’m going to be choosing to spend a lot of time in there this winter, and I’m motivated to get the stacks of art off the floor and onto the walls.

Just the tip of the neglected art iceberg

Just the tip of the neglected art iceberg

I have some really lovely pieces that are already framed, but I’ve also amassed quite a collection of art from thrift stores and garage sales that are irregularly sized and don’t fit into standard mats and frames.  Custom framing is out of reach, so I decided to get a little creative with how I display things.

You might remember seeing this pretty lady when I showed you the living room paint last week:

oil portrait 2

I bought the little oil portrait on eBay awhile ago, but hadn’t found a good way to display her.  I had a brainwave when this incredible room popped up in our Pinterest feed:

farrow and ball wallpaper

Man, Farrow & Ball really has my number.  This photo is from their recent collection of wallpapers, and it manages to instill in me an ineffable longing.  Let’s zoom in:

I decided to try and recreate this on a much smaller scale – to slake my yearning and quell my avarice by creating a little vignette reminiscent of this beauty. I carved a stamp and printed an old piece of mat board I had laying around.

Stamping the background

close up of piping

The frame is one of many I have dragged home from thrift stores, and I used a piece of piping to border the painting and give it a little depth.  I just used scotch tape to affix it to the back of the portrait:

attaching the piping

Then I used double-sided tape to stick the portrait onto the mat board, put a little plant in front to mimic the one in that original image and voila!  A very inexpensive Farrow & Ball-inspired moment.

Red House West//Inexpensive ways to display art

I bought this abstract pen and ink drawing for $0.99 and really like it, but it was stuck in a closet for ages while I waited for inspiration to strike – which it finally did!

framing supplies

Using poster board, black fabric, spray adhesive and a cheap thrift store frame, this little baby is finally ready to see the light of day.  To start, I cut the poster board to fit the frame then cut an opening to display the drawing.  I read somewhere that matting looks best when it’s slightly wider on the bottom than on the top – something about the eye seeing it as centered – so I did that and I’m happy with the result.

cut frame

Next, I cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the poster board.  I took everything outside, spread out a sheet, and sprayed the poster board with spray adhesive (below left).  Then I flipped it onto the fabric and smoothed out all the wrinkles.  I trimmed the edges then cut an ‘x’ in the middle opening so there were four triangle-shaped flaps (below right), trimmed the excess and used spray adhesive to glue the edges.

Red House West//Inexpensive framing

I waited for it to dry then reassembled the frame (full disclosure: I actually had to reassemble it three times because not once but twice I noticed cat hair trapped beneath the glass).  I’m really happy with it!  I like the texture of the fabric and think the depth of the black looks nice with the drawing. The edges look far better than any  of my previous attempts at cutting mat board at home.

Close up of the fabric mat taken without the glass.

Close up of the fabric mat taken without the glass.

Red House West//inexpensive ways to frame art

I’m happy to have these images on display, and feel inspired to get to work framing some more things.  I know we have some artists who read the blog – do you frame your own art?  Any tips you can pass on?  Thanks so much!