Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gallery wall

"Empty frame" gallery arrangement

"Hello.   My name is Joey and I am a gallery wall snob."   There, I said it...  but, I'm not certain that I want to recover from this affliction. 

We've all seen rooms in which the art is hung near ceiling height.  Or, those poor 15 ft feature walls that are accessorized by a lonely 8 x 10 photo.  In this case, my prayer is, God bless them... and "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23.

Why is it soooo difficult for people to figure out where to hang a piece of art?  It just ain't that hard.

Ideally, art -- be it from the dime store or an auction house -- should be hung at eye level.  Most agree that the center of the piece should be 60 inches from the floor.  There are, of course, lots of exceptions.  But, it is important to know the rules before you decide to break them. 

With gallery or salon displays, most of the rules get thrown out the window.  But, while the "rules" may be more permissive and lenient, there are still some guidelines to follow that will prevent total aesthetic disaster. 

1. There should be one unifying element.  For example, keep the frame choices consistent... maybe, black or white.  Though a bit "girly" for my taste, this is an amazingly well done space.   


2.  Understand that the eye reads "collections" as an upside down letter e.  The item in the center is seen first and then the natural tendency in Western cultures is to read the collection "counter clockwise."  So, the most important item should be hung in the center with the supporting art hung around it.   And, this center element should be hung at eye level. 

Look at this collection.  What is the first thing that you see on the wall?  The black and white flowers???   What is the last thing that you see... the small round silver object at the 8 o'clock position?    It's a cool trick!

3.  The space between the items should be as similar as possible in order to help unify the look.

4.  "Hang your head high, NOT your artwork."

I HATE everything about this gallery wall.  There is NOT a cohesive element linking all of the elements.  It is hung waaaaaaaaaaay too high.  Check out the art on the right hand wall... it is at eye level.  So, why did they mount all of the gallery items at the ceiling?  And, there is just too much crap on that wall.  This wall needs a big ole...RE-do!

5.  When combining multiple items, keep the color palate simple.  In this case, the entire wall "reads" as a black and white art instillation.  Why?  The frames may be different colors, but... all of the items have white mats.  And, the art itself is all black and white.  It works! 

Room by David Jimenez

6.  Scale is important.   The idea is to use between 2/3 and 3/4 of the wall space above a piece of furniture to compliment it and not overwhelm it.  For instance..... this entry is DREADFUL.

In all honesty, I think that the rug is great... and the faux taxidermy horns are clever.  But, the scale is all screwed up.  To accomodate that much art, the table needs to be MUCH larger... the art dwarfs that little table.  I also think that it is a little odd to have a perfectly symmetrical arrangement on the table while not carrying that symmetry idea onto the wall.  It just seems off.

Don't get me wrong, I don't always practice what I preach.  The mirror above my foyer table is waaay too small.  Currently, it is just not on my "to do" list. 

On the other hand, this space rocks.... The scale is great, especially with the edition of that large floor lamp in the corner to anchor the arrangement. 

Room by Preston  Lee

7.  The pieces of art should compliment each other or help to tell a story.  Just because you have 26 pieces of art, it doesn't mean that you should hang them all together on the same wall.   What in the world were they thinking?  Just say, NO.

8.  Start with a plan.  I've certainly been guilty of putting 10 nail holes in the wall to hang one item.  But, you don't have to do that...  plan it out before you start destroying the walls. 

9.  Keep it simple...  When I first started working, art wasn't really in my budget.  Unfortunately, I had a great deal of wall space.  And, gallery collections can be a cheap way to fill up some of that space.  In my home office, I used frames made out of glass and bleached wood to display postcards from my favorite trips.  Sorry that the photo is a bit blurry, but you get the idea. 

10.  Just follow the rules and gallery walls can be a spectacular addition to your space....

Pottery Barn

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Today is Earth Day... and, in the South, it is a very rainy Earth Day.  Hence, I am sitting at my computer.  With so much information available, there must be a happy medium between eco-friendliness and full-blown tree hugger status. 

We all know that protecting the environment is important, but it really isn't the first thing on my mind while waiting for a morning cup of coffee.  But, the environment IS important!  The question becomes:  How do we make earth friendly choices easier for people so that they are not an unfortunate afterthought?

Perhaps, we all can't work in LEED certified buildings like the Hearst Tower in NYC.

Hearst Building in New York

And, we may not all be able to plant a sustainable garden on our roof tops like some have done in Chicago.

Chicago City Hall

But, we can all make a few changes.  Consider those cussed plastic bags from the grocery store.  Those little suckers are just environmentally evil.  It is estimated that there are enough plastic grocery bags discarded each year to cover the state of Texas.  Now really.... we can do better.  Reusable bags are the best way to go.  Buy a couple at your favorite store... and they are usually cheap!

Just say NO... plastic grocery bags.

Inside the home, there are lots of clever ways to "go green."  And, no, I will NOT discuss those ugly little compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Consider furniture... giving new life to an old piece of furniture definitely lessens the amount of waste in our landfills.

Chair makeover... BEFORE

 and... AFTER.

Another thought would be to reuse items in unexpected ways.  Take for instance this light fixture... made from recycled coffee filters.  It might be a little too DIY for my short attention span, but the idea is great!

Speaking of coffee, according to an article on MSN, Americans used 23 BILLION paper coffee cups in 2010.  Yikes... that is 9.4 million trees.  So, how about getting a reusable coffee cup?

Finally, when purchasing new items for the home, consider low VOC paints, upholstered items with soy-based cushions, and items made from sustainable materials.   Today's "Apartment Therapy" blog lists several great resources. 

Furniture from Lee Industries

Remember, it IS Earth Day.... take a few small steps to be kind to our planet.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Something's missing

"....it just ain't quite right!"
Beautiful low country home near Savannah, GA
Have you ever visited a home, hotel, or business, and noticed that something was just.... off?

Recently, some friends were hosting a party at their new home.... a low country-inspired house.  The grounds were lovely, the workmanship was superb, and the details were amazing.  But, something was missing. 

For me... the furnishings and interior space didn't match my expectations. 

Allow me to elaborate by way of example.

Consider the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, NC.  This hotel is one of my favorites, and I always stay there when traveling to the mountains to visit family.  What I love about it is that the decor matches the name... quirky and bohemian. 
 Lobby, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Asheville, NC

Guest room, Grand Bohemian, Asheville, NC

What about the Ritz Carlton Central Park in New York?  An expectation of lovely appointed rooms with views of the park are most certainly delivered.... though I have had one room in that hotel with a view of a wall (teach me to search for a bargain online).  
Central Park Suite, Ritz Carlton, New York

If thinking about friends' homes, nothing says Josie like her sideboard... in this photo, all dressed up for a baby shower.  It is well-collected, quirky, and there are always some tree limbs.  But, it IS what I expect from my BFF.
Josie's dining room, Charlotte, NC

So, the interior in this new home was "off" for me.... Which brings up the question:  What should low country style depict??????

Historically, Southern architecture was born out of necessity prior to the days of air conditioning.  Elevated houses with large wrap around porches and high ceilings were used to help "cool" the homes during our dreadfully hot summers.

Inside, the homes are delightfully livable with hand-selected antiques and estate pieces utilized to create a statement and add character to the space.

Perhaps, my expectations should have been checked at the door.  This new space was minimalist while my expectation was for that traditionally collected look with some updated elements.... like the following:

Parlor, photo from Charleston Home magazine

Guest room, Planters Inn, Charleston, SC

 A well appointed screened porch

Outdoor dining space, Charleston, SC

Traditional low country kitchen

Southern dining room featured by One Kings Lane

Living room for 32 LeGare Street, Charleston, SC

I guess that my problem is, "truth in advertising."   Low country homes immediately connotate a specific ideal for Southerners.  Unfortunately, when they fail to deliver on some of those key expectations, the results can be a disappointment. 

One could certainly argue that I'm 'nitpicking' a beautiful home.  Furthermore, since I don't live there, who cares what I think?   But, just as with this blog... that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pool house panache

Decorating the pool house

Was talking with my friend, Katina, in the office this week.  She and her husband, Richard, are prepping their new pool house for summer.  The walls are yellow, the cabinetry is Caribbean blue, and the floors in the bathroom are black and white.  Sounds pretty…
Blue paint swatches from Home Depot
She pondered:  “Since the bathroom floors are black and white tiles, could we use zebra or black and white diamonds for cabinet inserts? Or, would that be too busy?”
Black and white tile from Floatproject.org

Oh, Lord… I have visions of…
I will NOT provide the design source because NO one should ever ever ever do this to an innocent piece of furniture.  YUCK!

Maybe NOT the best way to go.... just sayin'! 
But there are lots of other ways to add character and interest to the space without the addition of zebra cabinet inserts.  

Let's start with the floors.  They are considering grey..... maybe outdoor carpet or paint.
Grey outdoor carpet from Lowe's

Scored, acid-stained concrete

My personal choice would be to go with acid stained concrete.  Keeping that carpet clean might be a total pain in the derrière.


But, outdoor rugs might be a fun way to add some personality to the room.  And, the price point is going to be the same... carpet on the floor or a few area rugs.

 Outdoor Zebra rugs from Target.
My only concern is that this might be "expected."  What about something a tad more interesting?

 "la Poeme" outdoor rugs from Ballard Designs

"Antique Letter" outdoor rug from Ballard Designs.... LOVE this idea!

"Izmir" outdoor rug from West Elm.

So, the easy next question to ask:  What are we missing?  We've got painted cabinets, walls, and some type of floor covering.  We don't have anything that is wooden, metal, or glass.  Remember, opposites attract.  Time to steal some inspiration. 

For the sake of argument, consider that those cedar shingles are yellow.  Ok.... that IS our color palate.

We need a table and some chairs.  Ideally, an old wooden table with metal chairs would fit the bill.... low maintenance, pool friendly, and inexpensive.

 Love those yellow chairs... but that might be a little too much yellow in one room.
 This idea is good... but the shabby chic look might not be exactly right for their pool house.
 Metal side chair from Arhaus.  LOVE these.  But, may need to look for an Ikea alternative that is a little cheaper.  These are $250 each.
 That's the ticket... wooden tables with metal chairs. 

We may some additional seating.  How about an outdoor sofa?  The armless variety would take up less space in a small room....

Armless outdoor sofa from West Elm.

Believe it or not... white is one of the best colors to use because the slip cover can be easily washed or bleached as needed.  And, it will stand up to lots of crazy throw pillows like....

Pillow from Etsy
Yellow and white chevron pillow
Pillows from Missoni home.
The idea of these pillows is great... but, I'm afraid to ask the price.  $$$

What about a coffee table or a storage bench?

Rattan and metal coffee table/bench from OMC.

Rattan tables from Pier 1 Imports.

A few final few accessories for the table top are needed....
Melamine plate from Target.

And, you can't have a pool without some towels...
 Terry cloth beach towel from Ralph Lauren
Photo from Coastal Living

Towel from Missoni Home

Just a few suggestions.  Happy decorating, Katina and Richard!