Tag Archives: tv gallery wall

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!

Reader Question: Bringing Color Into a Baltimore Home

Hi all, it’s Mera and Katie teaming up to answer some design questions we recently received from Heloisa, a Red House West reader.  Details about her house and photos are posted below, and we also included the first paragraph of her email because it’s basically everything we’ve ever wished someone would say about our blog and reading it put big, huge smiles on our faces:

I love your blog – and I’m not too much of a blog follower but I stumbled upon yours and got hooked. What I find different is that you both have such sophisticated, yet simple and fun decor taste. And you go for all kinds of DIY projects without necessarily knowing how to do it beforehand. To me, it always reads: ‘you can do it too!’

I’m writing to ask for some advice – any you could give – on choosing wall colors. I know this is no simple task.  I need to take action as I am sick of my monochromatic home and I was hoping perhaps you could get me started. I’m hoping with some advice I can move from talk to action… (I’ve had 12 swatches of different colors painted on my dining wall for over 4 months now…notice on picture below next to mid century hutch):

Red House West || Reader Question

I feel I have quite a few nice pieces of furniture (mostly thanks to craigslist) but it doesn’t seem like it is coming together…I’m thinking it might be the lack of paint and art on the walls that makes things look a bit dull. What do you think?

Red House West || Reader Question

I love the dark/bluish greys, loved the emerald greens I saw on your post and love wallpapers. My initial idea was a dark grey on the wall the tv will be mounted on and one light grey throughout the open space. But I do love the dark wall colors…but not sure how it will look as this space is not super luminous throughout the day. I wish more light would come through but this is the typical Baltimore row house and not many windows…so I do want to maximize the light that comes through. I also thought of painting the ceilings some kind of white to give contrast. Anyways – I’m open to suggestions, light or dark colors and am ok with taking some risks!

Red House West || Reader Question

So there it is…any ideas you could spare? I hope so!

First of all Heloisa, you have great furniture and a beautiful space!  We love all your plants and are impressed by your Craigslist prowess.  Katie is crazy for the hutch in the dining room, and Mera is ready to burgle the hand planter from the table next to the chair. Your home is lovely!

We – like you – think your space will benefit from the addition of color, art on the walls, and a few cozifications.  We’re going to take this step by step and we’ve broken our answer into four categories: Paint Colors, Gallery Wall, Over the Sofa, and Textiles.

Paint Colors

Even though we’re big fans of wallpaper and saturated color, we think painting your walls a single color all the way through will highlight the openness of the space and make it look brighter.  We’ve got some ideas for bringing in the jewel tones and patterns you love in other ways, but we’ll get to that in a bit!  We think your instinct for light gray was right on, and we really like the idea of having white trim and a white ceiling that contrasts with the delicate gray walls.  We learned from Katie’s recent foray into the sometimes harrowing world of gray paint that choosing one is no easy task, but we’ve got some suggestions for swatches to try in your space.  We would definitely recommend you look for cooler grays rather than warmer ones, which can often skew tan.

We suggest purchasing sample pots and painting them on a big piece of white paper (a poster board cut in half works great) and sticking them not just on the wall, but also on the floor to get a sense of how they work in your space.  Here are three you might want to try:

  • Katie is really happy (deliriously happy) with the Crystal Ball by Miller Paint she used in her living room.  Miller Paint is an Oregon company (and as far as we can tell doesn’t retail on the east coast), but many paint retailers will be able to find a formula and do a color match for you.

Red House West//Miller Evolution Paint

  • Crushed Ice by Sherwin Williams is light and fresh and would be worth a try:
  • Sterling by Benjamin Moore is another one that looks nice and bright:

Gallery Wall

Art is a great way to liven up a space and add accent colors and personality.  We like the art you have hanging next to the window (great mix of frame sizes and shapes!) in your living room.  We would consider moving that and expanding it, so that it is behind and around the TV.  Having art around a TV gives the eye another place to focus, and makes the TV seem less important.  Having a gallery wall that includes some vibrant art will make that wall a focal point, but without actually painting or wallpapering it a different color from the rest of the space.  Here are some examples of TV/gallery wall combos that we think look just right (you can also check out Mera’s TV/art wall here):

What to Hang Over the Couch

We wonder whether you’d be able to relocate the gorgeous credenza that is currently to the left of your couch over to the wall next to the window (where your art is hanging).  Moving it will break up that long horizontal line and make it more natural to center something over the couch.  Because we suggest you hang a gallery wall behind your TV, we think you should stick a single large piece over the couch so things don’t look too busy.

Large art can be really expensive, but a beautiful rug like this vintage Moroccan one (hung horizontally) could be a great alternative. The colors are gorgeous and this would be a great way to bring those darker tones you love – and some texture – into the room.

You could use your considerable Craigslist skills to find a big mirror, which would brighten things up by reflecting light around the room.  We think one that’s a little ornate would be an interesting contrast to your mid-century look – maybe something like this:

Or, if you’re still interested in bringing wallpaper into the space, you could frame a panel (or two or three) of your favorite pattern.  Just make sure it’s not too busy so that it doesn’t compete with the gallery wall.


Now for our favorite part, textiles!  Colorful pillows and throws will tie your space together and make it feel “done” once you have more art on the walls.  Here are a few rooms that are mostly white and grey, but that come vividly alive thanks to the addition of colorful fabrics:



Because emerald green was mentioned specifically in the question, and because it’s a color that we love too, here are a few richly hued pillows and throws that we think would look beautiful in the space (although not necessarily all together):

Emerald accents
  1. Throw blanket
  2. Splatter Paint Pillow
  3. Oil Painting Pillow
  4. Pom Pom Pillow
  5. Emerald Lumbar
  6. Kantha

Thanks so much for sending us your question Heloisa!  We hope we gave you a few new ideas and if you’re willing to share pictures of your finished space down the road, we’d love to see them!

We’ll be back on Friday for our final post of 2014 – yep, Red House West will be taking a break so we can spend the holidays with family and friends (and, you know, work on our houses).  Thanks for reading along!

Room Tour: The Adult Lounge

This week I thought I would show you the room we call the Adult Lounge.  As I’ve explained before, nothing adulty-adult goes on in here.  After Opal goes to bed we retreat to this room to drink a beer and watch a show (current obsessions include Orphan Black and Parade’s End).

I’ve been working away on this room in fits and starts for months, and it has become one of my favorite spaces in the house.  Unfortunately I don’t have proper before photos, so here are some candid outtakes from my life to give you an idea of where I began:

tv room before

If you’re able to, direct your eyes away from that handsome man and adorable wiggly baby (who is obviously a genius!), into the room on the left.  I went through a pretty heavy duty every-room-painted-a-different-color-including-but-not-limited-to-an-oxblood-accent-wall phase, and this room was no exception.  The TV sat on a cheap espresso veneer stand, and there was nothing on the walls.  It was sad.

The beauty emanating from these creatures always made the dismal room seem not so bad.

We lived like this for years, and it’s not like we never spent any time in here.  Nay, dear reader, time was spent:  All five seasons of The Wire, and all six seasons of The Sopranos.  Twice.  All this time led to the formation of an indent in my spot on the couch that was the exact width of my posterior end.  We called it The Gulf of Badonkin.

Progress: this was after we ripped out the carpet and 9,000,000 staples and painted the walls white.

The photo above shows a progress shot.  This was after I painted the walls white, and we ripped out the carpet and nine billion staples.  The floor under the carpet is finished fir.  You can see in the progress photo the over-sprayed paint on the edges of the floor, and under the rug there is some damage from the staples and tack strips.

On a recent visit my mother in law basically refinished the floor while Chester and I went to a movie.  Yes, I am the kind of person who leaves her mother in law on her hands and knees sanding while I go out gallivanting.  She did a great job, got all the paint off, and made it look beautiful again.

Now, at long last, it looks like this:

Cromwell's handsome mug does wonders for a room.

This room is really small, and because of where the windows and doors are, the TV can only go on the far wall, which means the couch has to go under the window.

The couch is from sofa.com.  I could not love it more.

The couch is a dream; petite but incredibly comfortable with its down-wrapped foam cushions.  Wolsey has shown no interest in scratching the velvet, and the dogs, who spend a considerable amount of time looking out the window from this perch, haven’t stained or torn the upholstery (knock on wood).


In this photo the console table looks more red than it is in real life.  The color is actually electric watermelon, and I’m crazy about it.  The cord management situation isn’t perfect, but it isn’t a major eyesore either.  I hung the artwork partially behind the tv on purpose, on the theory that it makes the tv look less important.  The large boom box painting is another by Carol Crump Bryner.  The dog portrait to the left of the tv is of my beloved Megan, my Mega-Babe.  A kinder soul never lived.


My love of birds and plants is on display in this room, as in every room of the house (see, e.g., the mallard footed mirror in the bathroom).  The print is of a raft of Murres, by the late great Diana Tillion.


One of the difficulties in this room was fitting in another place to sit other than the couch.  It’s hard to tell from these photos, but there is a door to the right of the TV, as well as the door that leads into the room by the stairs. That means that the only place a chair can go is in front of the bookshelves, which felt awkward.  Enter the hanging chair.  I have always loved hanging chairs because they’re fun, but in this case it just made the most sense.  It’s a super comfortable place to sit, it doesn’t take up much visual space in front of the window and shelves, and it’s nice to be able to pivot toward the couch for conversation and toward the tv for a show.  Also, and of paramount importance, the cats approve.



Hey Meatloaf.

So, that’s the Adult Lounge.  Thanks for coming along on the tour, and here are sources for the non-vintage/one of a kind items:

Rug, West Elm / Coffee Table, West Elm / Console Table, Blu Dot / Chevron Side Table, West Elm / Table Lamps, West Elm / Couch, sofa.com / Hanging Chair, Serena and Lily / Bird Planter, West Elm / Kilim Pillow on Hanging Chair, One Kings Lane