How to Decorate That Big Blank Wall
Interior design can be intimidating, especially when it comes to choosing what to put on your walls. In fact, that is the top question I get from friends and readers who solicite decorating advice from me. They can't seem to figure out what to do with a big, blank wall. I have developed a few fool-proof formulas over the years on exactly how to fill in those blank spaces, along with some do's and don'ts.
Before you decide which type of art or decor to put on a specific wall, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself:
1. What is the function of this room? Is it for work, play or relaxing. In other words, what kind of mood do you want to reflect in the wall decor? And do you need it to serve a specific purpose, like an entryway or home office?
2. Is this a wall I'm going to be looking at several times a day, every single day? For example if you are decorating a dining room or living room wall, you want to invest in exactly what you want, because you're going to be looking at it often.
3. Is this a wall guests will be looking at often, like a guest room or main living space? If so, you want to make sure your artwork is appropriate. You may have a glorious self-portrait of your naked pregnant belly, but your dinner guests don't need to see it.
After answering those questions, you should get a better idea of which type of wall decor you need, like a large mirror or wall clock vs. photography or paintings. You'll also get an idea of the style and colors you want to look for. There are also a few do's and don'ts to go by when making your decision.
Do mix things up. If you have one wall decorated with framed photos, fill up another wall in the same room with something different, like a painting. Think outside of the box. There is a lot more to wall decor than paintings and pictures like large wall clocks, decorative mirrors, metal sculptures and more.
Don't have every wall in the same room decorated with the same type of art, like framed prints. They will start to blend together and look boring. By mixing up different types of decor, you'll add interest to a room by introducing different shapes and textures.
Do have a theme in mind. Even if it's a wall of family photos or photography art, it should be consistent. For exmple, display family photos from a particular vacation or from your wedding. If you want to display various family photos on the same wall, you can tie them together by using the same style of frames or by printing them all in black and white.
Don't be afraid to mix up frames on a family photo wall. You want your frames to coordinate, but they don't have to all be exactly the same. Especially if you don't want a perfect grid, it looks great to have the same color frames that vary in style or the same style frames that vary slightly in color.
Do measure your walls before you head to the store. Then pay attention to the size of the art. You can't just eyeball it, because things look much smaller in a large store.
Don't forget about scale. You don't want to put a small painting on a large wall, or vice versa.
Do hang things at eye level. Of course, if you're a shorty like I am, you might want to hang them slightly above eye level.
Don't hang things close to the ceiling. The standard gallery method is to hang art 60 inches from the floor to the middle of the frame. Other things might come into play like how high your walls are, furniture placement, or ceiling moldings. I like to use my door frames as a guide. If a painting is hung several inches above the top of my door frames, it's going to look weird.
Do measure before you hang, especially a cluster of frames. A great way to do this is to lay out kraft paper on the floor and arrange your frames exactly how you want them and outline them. Then place the paper on the wall and mark where to put the nail. If you are using a cable system, you can also use this method to determine where the hooks need to go.
Don't use nails to hang artwork. It's hard to get large paintings level using nails, and the paintings can weigh down the nails, causing further damage to your walls. Especially if you are going for a gallery feel with rows of paintings or a grid of high-quality framed photography, you should use a cable and hook system, like AS Hanging Picture Rails. You can hang cables using a track system and can use transparent nylon cables or steel cables. If you have an exposed-brick wall or wooden wall in your home, a row of paintings hung with steel cables will make your home look like a hip art gallery.
At this point, you still might be staring at a big blank wall in your house and wondering exactly what to put there. In decorating throughout the years and helping a lot of my friends with decorating their homes, I've come up with a few formulas to follow when trying to decide on wall decor.
First let's deal with the dreaded huge, white wall. Don't feel like you need to fill it all in with wall hangings. First think of ways to add interest to the surface. Can you paint it or add texture with a wall treatment? If you're renting and need a more temporary solution, you can go with a wall decal. You don't have to get one large wall decal. You can find decals in patterns, like flowers or dots, which will have the same effect as patterned wallpaper. Next, think of how you can fill in the space with surrounding objects like floor lamps or large potted plants. When you start filling in the middle, it depends on the size of the wall. In an extra large living space, it's best to group several pieces of wall art, like a collection of photography or paintings.
For smaller walls, let your furniture be your guide. For example, if you have a small sideboard or desk on a smaller wall, one object like a decorative mirror or one medium framed piece hung centered above the furniture will anchor the space.
In hallways and along stairs, it's best to go with a large grid or row of framed photos. That is where I like to put my family photos. An entryway hallway is also a nice place for a gallery-style row of smaller paintings or art photography.
For a piece that is almost big enough to fill a wall, but not quite, my quick fix is always to flank it with two matching sconces or candle holders.
Don't neglect functional areas like laundry rooms and walk-in closets. The more spaces in your home that have a special touch, the more spaces you'll enjoy using on a day-to-day basis. Even if it's a small family photo in your walk-in closet, give yourself something special to stop and look at before you start your busy day.
I hope you're a little less intimidated by that blank wall now. Just remember that you'll be looking at it everyday, so decorate it with something that reflects your personality, inspires you and makes you feel good.
*All photos are via AS Hanging Systems.