I get lots of emails asking for design advice. Although I don’t always have the time to specifically source items for people, I would at least like to post about some of the same design dilemmas I see over and over again and to hopefully offer up some general advice.
A reader recently sent me pictures of this apartment that’s she’s renting and the vast space above her sofa that’s calling for art. . . or something grand.
Big walls are scary things to tackle. One of the biggest mistakes I see is hanging something that’s too small and actually makes the wall look more awkward. If you have one of these huge “above the sofa” walls, here are some possible options:
Think about a new room layout first.
I’m not always the biggest fan of placing a sofa against a wall anyway, but sometimes there’s no other choice. Before you start hanging things on the wall, think about all of your furniture arrangement options. Could you put the sofa in the middle of the room and create a vignette (a small chest and pretty mirror with some lamps, for example) on that big wall instead? When thinking about your layout, remember that furniture can be pulled in closer than you think for a cozy feel, and it’s okay to put a sofa in front of a window, or even a sliding glass door if you have the walk-through space.
When it comes to art, think big!
the living room in our last house
In our last house, I used this abstract painting (a Craigslist find) to fill the wall behind the sofa, almost up to the ceiling. It made the ceilings look taller and became the centerpiece of the room. A similar look could be achieved by buying big canvases at a craft store and using some acrylic paints to bring out the colors of your room. (Btw, it’s okay to leave a lot of white space on the canvas and if you want a more muted look, spray with water to dilute colors as you paint, letting each coat dry before you go onto the next color.) Or, if you’re not feeling artistic, cover the canvases in a pretty fabric.
On a side note, I also like the look of wall lamps flanking art. They also help to fill visual space are provide great task lighting. It also allows you to forego bulky side tables if you don’t really need them.
Create a gallery wall for a big impact.
You know I’m a fan of big collections on the wall. It always makes a big impact visually and can be accomplished even on a small budget, if you’re creative. I love the look of mismatched art and frames, but if you don’t have a huge collection of art or are scared of finding the right arrangement, a nice symmetrical collection, using the same frames and prints from the same book of art, works as well.
Lean art behind the sofa.
This is a great trick if you have an extra foot or so of space. Pull your sofa out from the wall, and place a piece of furniture behind it. Lean a large piece of art and add accessories and even lamps. This gives some nice depth to the room (and if you’re a renter, you’re not committed to nail holes in your wall).
Open the room up with a floor mirror.
Leaning a large mirror behind your sofa is like adding another doorway into another (imaginary) room—and much cheaper than a renovation! It completely opens up the space, and there’s still room for art on both sides.
Any other good advice? Or, if you have an example of how you’ve tackled a similar wall, I’d love for you to upload a photo (and a link if you have one) to my Facebook page.