By Noelle Mering
Gallery walls have waxed and waned as a trend, but I sit firmly with Paige Rien and hold that our homes need not be enslaved by trends. And anyway, the salon wall dates back to 1600s France; so we need not worry that anything with such a chic provenance will be looked back as a flash in the pan. In fact, maybe we should return to calling them salon walls, at the risk of sounding pretentious.
This particular wall in our living room has undergone many iterations. It was a large window-less wall and I thought a long white cabinet and floating shelf would help occupy the space. Custom cabinetry would have been great, but we were on an Ikea budget. Here is how I first set it up:
Here it is a few years later with some inevitable changes and additions. (I think the sleeping cutie really adds to the art wall.)
At some point I replaced the more gallery-type layout above the long shelf with uniform frames I'd found at a thrift store. I removed the pictures that came with the frames and gave my daughters a palette and some inspiration and they created a series of abstract kid art to fill the "new" frames:
Eventually, the white Ikea furniture desk and cabinet began to fracture and it felt like a good time to rethink this wall altogether. I found this simple white oak cabinet and red Italian flea market chairs to flank it and decided the white floating shelf might be repurposed elsewhere:
Without the shelf, it struck me I had a good opportunity (and enough collected art) to pull together an art wall that would really fill the wall. One day, an afternoon opened up and I decided it was time.
Here's the method that has worked for me, but of course their are far more precise methods.
First, I measure the approximate amount of wall space I'd like covered, and then block out that amount of space on the floor.
Next, I center (somewhat) a striking piece, and begin building out from there. My goal is always to use a variety of sizes and to have larger pieces sprinkled about in a balanced way, rather than clustered together. I then balance frame color/material and finally colors and content of each piece. Then I play with moving things around until it feels right.
Next I start hanging! I figure out the exact center of the entire grouping on the floor and then mark that center on the wall and hang the initial piece according to where it is relative to the center point.
Working off of that first piece, I measure the distance to the pieces around it and keep working out from there. One convenient tip I learned years ago is when you realize the spot for the nail, lick your thumb and press it to that spot and it leaves a little wet mark (or I guess you can just use a pencil, but this tip always feels more expedient to me).
I also find that I'd rather do this all quickly, even if imperfectly. This means that sometimes I have to redo a nail here and there. Usually the misplaced nail hole gets covered anyway.
You might notice a few changes were made from the floor to the wall. Flexibility is key and something might strike you differently as you go along! I love that it can continue to grow organically, yet feels like it is complete enough as-is.
Do you have an art/salon/gallery wall? Tag us so we can see and share!