Painting a Wall

 
As much as I look forward to April’s arrival, it is a month of many moods. Warm one day, chance of frost the next, clear and beautiful, quickly followed by days of rain. If the weather puts your outside plans on hold, you can tackle a decorating project that will brighten up your inside space. 
 
I love gallery walls, where the majority of a wall is covered in artwork, but initially, I found the concept intimidating. Somehow it seemed like a job for professionals, the cost of framing a collection of artwork was exorbitant, and surely math was going to rear its ugly head somewhere during the process. Eventually, confidence overcame caution, and with a wine glass in one hand and a hammer in the other, I started my first gallery wall on a stairway. Once that seal was broken, there was no going back. I’ve since done them in bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and my personal favorite, half bathrooms. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to keep the cost low and the impact level high. 
 
Start by taking stock of the art and objects you could hang, or what you’d like to collect to display. Not a collector? Come to the dark side with me my pretty, come to the dark side with me. Seriously, if you aren’t interested in collecting, jump down to the next section where I share one weird hack that will balance the federal budget in six months and we’ll catch up with you in a bit. For the rest of you, the possibilities are endless. You don’t have to have a full inventory to begin your project, just start in the center of the wall and work your way outward.
 
Use a cluster of closely spaced pieces, or use a larger piece to anchor the project, then expand out as your collection grows. Decide roughly how many inches apart you’d like your art, and use that as a spacing guideline. Assuming that you’ll be using various sizes and shapes it will be difficult to keep everything perfectly spaced, but some consistency will give an ordered look to the result.  For smaller pieces in smaller spaces, I shoot for a 2-inch gap, adding a few more inches for larger pieces in larger spaces. Count on changing your mind and the occasional mistake, so have some vinyl wall filler handy.
 
It helps to have a rough idea in your head going forward, but the most important thing is that the pieces you display are things that are interesting or sentimental to you. It’s ok to go with a random assortment of eclectic pieces, it’s also ok to have a theme like botanical prints, or exclusively use black or gold frames. For large walls I like a mix of literally everything: oils, prints, folk art, mirrors, wood carvings, you name it. My current project is a hallway in my new house, and the emphasis is on black and white prints, sketches, maps, and photographs. Instead of just a narrow space designed just to get me from point A to B, I have an interesting spot to linger and explore. With 46 pieces up, and more wall space to finish, there isn’t a shortage of things to catch my attention. 
 
Good sources for reasonably priced art are thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, estate sales, flea markets, and yard sales. For the best deals, it helps if you keep a broad focus and look for good art, or good frames, and don’t restrict yourself to looking for the perfect framed piece. I’ve picked up some lovely frames for next to nothing because they were surrounding seriously questionable artwork. Sometimes all a frame needs to calm its bad self down is a blast of black spray paint. Don’t overlook some great pieces you may have tucked away like children’s artwork, old family photos, wall clocks, old needlework, or even vintage game boards.
 

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