6 Tips for an Easy Gallery Wall

For months, every time I would walk past the giant blank wall in our living/dining room, I would grumble to myself “I should do a gallery wall.”  I kept putting it off because a. I didn’t have enough pieces and 2. I thought it had to be a very complicated process.  I scrolled through Pinterest for inspiration and was intimidated by the pin after pin of paper cutouts of different sized frames on the wall – I knew I would never do that, I just don’t have the patience.  BUT, as it turns out, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.  Here are my six tips for an easy gallery wall.

img_5803Collect your art

  1.  Use pieces that make you happy
    • Obvious, yes, but initially, I was tied to the idea that all the frames had to be the same color (I, of course, wanted all gaudy gold frames), but then I found some sketches in black frames that I really loved.  So after much deliberation I finally said “eff it, who cares if it doesn’t match as long as you like it and it makes you happy.  You’re the one who lives here…”  So don’t restrict your wall to a certain color scheme or theme.  Instead, take the “more the merrier” approach and pick pieces that will make you smile whenever you see it.  Be original.
    • Hot tip: if you have an odd-sized piece you need framed, try ArtToFrame.com – I used it for the Musee d’Orsay piece on the far right.  I went rather basic, but you can input your size, frame color/material, and matting colors for an extremely reasonable price- this was $60!  Can’t beat that for a custom framing job.
  2. Pairs create balance
    • The above being said, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pairs of the same frame to help create a visual balance.  I filled the two 8×10 gold frames with wedding photos and then used the two black-framed sketches to create some uniformity amongst the rest of the wall.
  3. Include 3d objectsimg_5798
    • Incorporating interesting, 3d items will add an extra dimension and texture to your wall and bring that flat wall to life.  My husband had a bust of a Springbok collecting dust in a box for years.  It was from a hunting trip he went on with his grandpa as a kid.  Not only does it hold a lot of sentimental value to him, but it is also quite a beautiful animal that even a non-hunter can appreciate.  We paired the Springbok with a cool, metal-caged mirror from Homegoods to offset the flat art.  I realize not everyone has a Springbok in their basement, so try a mirror, wall-planter, or sculpture to add some depth. Go shopping in a realtive’s basement or try Homegoods – my go-to source for these types of pieces (and frames).

Hanging the art

  1. Lay it all out on the floor before you hang anythingthe artesian project gallery wall layout plan
    • This is my version of the paper cutouts and it is even better (imo) because you can actually see how the colors play against each other.  Balance is the goal here, so just keep rearranging until you get there.
  2. Use anchor piecesimg_5778
    • I used this vintage buffet passed down from my grandparents as the main anchor on this wall.  It offers some structure for the gallery wall and acts as a good first focal point and allows your eyes to move up and wander from there.
  3. Don’t be an exactoimg_5808
    • There is no need to measure each piece out when you actually start hanging – that defeats the idea behind a gallery wall.  Just be consistent with the spacing between all the pieces to create a sense of harmony.

Et voila, just like that, you have yourself an exquisite gallery wall, custom-tailored to you.  Now go have some fun finding your art!img_5794

6 Tips for an Easy Gallery Wall | The Artesian Project | www.theartesianproject.com

(get the look for less: counter tops)

Now that construction has actually started, we thought it might be time to get our ducks in a row and start nailing down some finishes.  On our contractor’s recommendation, we ventured out to Stone City in Humboldt Park after a deeelightful breakfast at WHISK (those salty caramel pancakes – omg!).Stone City | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com

Upon entering the warehouse, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.  Marble! Granite! Quartzite! Galore!  It was so cool to see and touch these giant slabs o rock.  It was a very educational trip and Lizette, of Stone City, was an absolute gem to work with.

Here is what we learned.

If you want Calacutta Gold Marble look, consider:
1.  White Mystery Marble
2.  Eureka Danby Marble

Calacutta Gold is currently the most in-demand marble on the market for its obvious good looks and warm tones, so unfortunately, that also makes this Italian marble the most expensive.  We wanted to use this slab for our kitchen island – which is rather large at 4’x11′, so any type of savings would help.  With that in mind, we discovered Mystery White Marble, which also had the same characteristics as CG, but with a whiter base – and here’s the kicker – half the price tag. Mystery White is also sometimes called Misty White.  Eureka Marble (sometimes called Danby) has a more dramatic, darker veining, but also the same warm tones as Calacatta Gold, at also half the price.  We also learned that the largest slab we could get would be ten feet – so in order to achieve the seamless, one slab look we are going to resize our island to 10′.  These stones are also sourced in the US – Vermont to be specific.

Marble Slabs | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com

Our kitchen finish design has a darker, contrasting counter on the perimeter.  I wanted something a little rougher to contrast with the smooth marble, so I was thinking a soapstone would do the trick.  Here is what we learned.

If you want the Soapstone look, consider:
1. Honed, Virginia Mist Granite

Soapstone is a very porous material, which means that it would quickly absorb stains into the stone itself and require a lot of maintenance.  I, personally, am a little of tired of the granite look, but the Honed version is so different.  It has a matte finish and really looks more like a soapstone or concrete.  Granite is also one of the most durable materials on the market – with a much smaller price tag than the soapstone.  With the Virginia Mist (also sometimes called Jet Black) we can achieve that same look with more durability and spending less.  Honed granite FTW!

Virginia Mist
(Honed, Virginia Mist Granite)

Here are some real kitchens found on Houzz using these materials for your perusing pleasure.

Mystery White Marble

Eureka Danby Marble

Honed, Virginia Mist Granite

So what have we really learned?  Don’t take some stones for granite.  Sorry, had to.

(wood you like to know the recipe for adding instant character?)

Woodshop101I have always had a penchant for vintage things with loads of character, but after taking Woodworking 101 at the ReBuilding Exchange in the Spring, I want salvaged everything. I took the class with my future sis-in-law and we absolutely loved it. We hand selected our own timber and used real badass power tools over the course of the 4 week class. I will eventually be using my tabletop as the basement bar counter top – chyea!  Sidenote: if you live in the Chicago area and have never visited the ReBuilding Exchange – GO! I have found many a pieces there for projects – including the mantel that turned into our headboard and is my favorite project to date.

So naturally, I now feel compelled to sprinkle the magic of reclaimed wood all over the new house: the recipe for instant character.  I have already designed built-ins around the family room fireplace that will be using the wood pieces as counter top and shelving (contrasted against white cabinetry) which I am incredibly stoked for.  Also, as mentioned above, I will be using the tabletop piece I made in class as the counter top for the wet bar in the basement – I also plan on taking a trip to ReBuilding Exchange to select a few thick pieces to turn into open shelving above the cabinets.  I have been hemming and hawing about adding beams in the family room or the master bedroom and I think we are settled on the master (I was worried the dark beams would bring down the ceiling height in the family room).  So without further ado, here are some of my fav uses of salvaged wood that I found on the interwebs that will *hopefully* be incorporated more or less into House Wagner 2.0.

Happy Friday!


Last weekend we ventured out to the burbs to work on cabinetry selections for the house.  We had a great meeting (albeit both of us slightly hungover) and started to make some major strides in nailing down decisions for the kitchen.  While we wait for the cad drawings, I figured I would share some of the inspiration I have been referencing that I found on Houzz.  Warning: if you have never visited Houzz, make sure you clear yourself a solid 1 – 2 hour window where you can be totally unproductive before you do.


>> This kitchen below is everything.  I knew we wanted a white kitchen with some contrasting elements and when I stumbled upon this photo it felt like love.  Black and white is so classic and sophisticated, yet the use of the mixed materials on the counters and walls relax the vibe a bit and lend themselves to a slightly rustic/beachy feel.  This will be the main focal point of the house and where we will spend the most time – and I can already picture hosting some great nights around this counter.

>> Here is another lovely black and white kitchen.  This one feels slightly more refined than the above.  I really enjoy the range hood pictured here – the horizontal orientation of the panels change up the pace quite nicely.

>> And one more for good measure.  This kitchen is absolutely stunning and extremely dramatic, but I just don’t know if we are cool enough to pull it off — the brass hardware, black cabinets, and marble counter tops are beyond cool.

So that’s what we’re thinkin.  Too much?