Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A gallery wall explained

If you plan on having a gallery style wall in your living room, DO NOT do it the way I did.

I obsessed over this wall. I was addicted to Pinterest, pinning picture after picture of these "perfect" gallery walls with their perfect pictures and perfect wooden arrow accessories. You've seen them; you know the ones. 

I placed all my frames and wall hangings on the floor, measuring exactly the width I had to work with, moving this frame here, and that frame there. I took pictures of my floor art, texting friend after friend. 

One friend told me it looked great, and even came over to my house to help my obsess a little more, arranging and rearranging for hours while our kids stared at a movie. 

Another told me I needed more metallics, something different than all the wood. A big metallic arrow, for example. Except - I'm not a metallic person. Or an arrow person. So while I loved the suggestion, it didn't feel genuine for my home. What I want most in my house, while being beautiful and comfortable and easy, is to be genuine. I want it to feel like MY home. 

I took a step back from my Pin-session and asked myself a few simple questions. What do I need to have when I come in the door? What do I need to use? What do I want to see?

The Hubs helped me with the first one. I knew I needed a place for the kids to throw their shoes, a seat for them to get ready as they rushed out the door. I was searching for mudroom benches - those ones with cushions on top and baskets underneath for storage. But they felt......normal. We aren't normal people. The Hubs suggested a church pew instead.

He was exactly right. (Don't tell him, though. It will go straight to his head.)

I searched antique stores and garage sales, Craigslist and OfferUp and finally found one, 8 weeks into my search. It was perfect. It is a simple and beautiful antique. I was a little concerned at first that it wouldn't hold up to my kids launching themselves on and off it (as they are wont to do). But then I decided that if it has stood up to years of church-goers sitting and kneeling and leaning and sleeping, it would hold up for my kids just fine. I love thinking about the people who have sat upon this pew, praying - what they thanked God for, what they asked. 

Now onto the wall itself. What did I want to see when I walked into my home? 

(Note: our entry wall is an awkward little wall. Instead of coming through a hallway into the house, the front door faces the wall,  and you turn right to go into the living room or left to head into the playroom/den. So the entry wall would be facing anyone coming to my front door.)

For me, the answer was simple. I wanted to see pictures of my family. I wanted my daughter's dance and my son's baseball picture. I wanted a big "O" to announce our family name. I wanted a vintage-y cottage-y style that didn't look like it was trying too hard. 

I wasn't satisfied with the collection of objects and pictures I had amassed for my wall, but couldn't put my finger on what was missing. So I took a step back, and went to help The Hubs tear down a wall (more on that later!). While clearing out that room for demo and renovation, I came across a big canvas painting he had received from his parents in college.

"Oh wow. I forgot about this! I've always loved it." I stopped for a second. "Hey - can I put this up in our entry way? Or did you want to keep it for the man cave?"

"I'd love it if you hung it in the entry way. You really want to?" he asked.

Oh yes, I really did. Because what was missing from before was him. If this wall was a collection of our lives together, a feeling of "home" every time we walked into the room, then he needed to be a part of it. A big part of it. Putting his canvas from Brazil into the mix added more color, a certain odd - but fun - flair, and it was HIS. It also didn't hurt that I really do love it. It became my wall centerpiece, that tied all the colors together.

After I discovered The Hubs' canvas, the gallery wall fell into place.

I walked around my house, seeing if there was anything else I had lying around that I had overlooked. An hour later I had an antique window that used to live in my daughter's room, some plaques and a wall shelf my grandfather had handmade. 

I printed our family pictures out and taped them to the window panes. A very generous friend printed out some vinyl lettering for me, and after I painted my boring black plaque a deep blue, I attached the simple lettering. "Hello", it said.  

My first treasure I bought in Phoenix 8 years ago. I loved it from the moment I saw it.

I found a few more tiny treasures around the house and placed them on my grandfather's wall shelf. A Paddington the Bear statue from my hubs childhood in the UK. A rock sculpture he had made when he was younger.  A Willow Tree figurine holding a dog, a reminder of my dog Hansa, who died in February. A pair of antlers from a white-tailed deer The Hubs hunted in college. 

I never thought I would allow a pair of antlers in my home. But there it is.

Although it's odd, and different....somehow, it works. It feels vintage and bright and cheery and most of all, US.  

The shutter used to frame our bedroom window. Now it holds important letters, and birthday and Christmas cards.

The view from my front door.
 It's not finished yet. The wall will be painted a light gray next week, and the generic coat rack is getting a face lift in either red or yellow, whichever strikes my fancy that day. I also have a hankering to write my favorite uplifting quotes in Sharpie around the mirror frame. Again, for another day.

Walking into my house every day, I feel so welcome and happy. A friend came by last week and said the same thing. "Your house is so comfortable. So cozy and homey." Mission accomplished.

What project are you working on? Or did you finish a project this week, too? Tell me all about it!

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