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Art Above the Couch

February 23, 2018

What art for above the couch.

I know, Penelope. What are we going to do with that big blank wall? We’ve been living our livingroom life with just the blankest wall behind our sectional. About once a month, I look back at it ask my husband, “ugh, what are we going to do with this wall?”

Living Room With Blank Wall

[sectional is the IKEA Kivik in Orrsta Gray | wall color is Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur]

So first off, I know I want to break up that space on the left with a bookcase. This also solves another of our house problems: we have nowhere to store our books right now. I cannot stop thinking about the Crosby Bookcase from Rejuvenation. It’s been on sale for a long time (which makes me so worried that it will go away for good someday soon) and sometimes, it’s even more on sale. And every time that happens, I promise myself I’ll just order it already. I’m also ready for a refresh on this blanket/pillow situation.

Anyway, this is a post about wall art and not a post about how much I want that bookcase from Rejuvenation, nor is it about blankets and pillows.


Living Room SketchUp Overhead

Ok, so what are we looking at here? This is an overhead view of our living room in SketchUp for you to understand the whole layout. And where that dreamy bookcase will go.

SketchUp Living Room

Here’s a pared down shot as if some of our walls and fireplace were invisible. Whatever, it helps! Ok so now you know what we’re working with.

Are we over gallery walls?

Gallery wall from Avenue Lifestyle

[source: Avenue Lifestyle]

Gallery walls have been around since the Salon was packed to the gills from floor to ceiling with the works of new painters, eager to show off their work. The above gallery wall from Avenue Lifestyle is beautifully executed with great visual balance.

I thought I was getting tired of gallery walls, that they’re overdone and stale, but I realized it’s just that they’ve been done dirty. When big box stores got into the gallery wall game with pre-made sets – with their matching frames and art – something was lost. To make a good gallery wall (much like making a well-decorated room) you need to build it over time with pieces that mean something to you, with things you’ve held onto over time. This is why you should always have something vintage in every room, there’s simply something about age and old quality that adds the depth and character needed to “finish” a space.

Andy and I have collected a lot of prints over the years but not original paintings. I think we could reuse a lot of what we already have and carefully add to it with our photographs and some original pieces from artists we love. But what other ideas are rolling around in my head, making a decision so tough? Well…

What about the gallery grid?


[source: Elle Decoration]

I’ve been seeing some stunning gallery grid walls around the internet these days. They are perfectly spaced with art or photographs in the same style or treatment. I’ve seen them with matching chunky mats and small photographs, using negative space so tidily.

Tidiness and minimalism are two things I gravitate toward but am often incapable of executing because I just like too much stuff. Also among my concerns (I told you, this whole thing has been making me throw my arms up for months) is: would a gallery grid feel too carefully calculated? Too intentional? Are those good things? I don’t know who I am anymore.

What if we just keep it simple?

How about one large art?

Yellow Brick Home DIY-large-frame-27

[source: Yellow Brick Home]

This large grassy print and DIY frame from the ever-talented Yellow Brick Home duo, is a simple but big-impact move. I can see a big and beautiful photo print from one of Andy’s trips or an original painting working so well here. Heck, I can make my own art.

If I go this route, will I agonize about the importance of picking that ONE PIECE?

Please help! How are you feeling these days about art abouve the couch? How about my couch specifically? Are you pro gallery wall? All for a gallery grid? Or down with one large art?

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  • Reply Jeanne February 23, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Emily. I recently started following you after seeing your lovely bathroom on Apartment Therapy. If I may be so bold as to weigh in our your blank wall situation, I’d go with the 3rd option, one large statement piece. And I love the renderings you did, they were very helpful to visual the space. I’ve also been itching to paint our foyer walls this spring and I’m thinking I may have just found my color! A paint name with Raccoon in the title, who can pass THAT up?! Happy decorating!

    • Reply thesweetbeast February 23, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Jeanne! Thanks so much for being here and for weighing in! So glad the renderings are helpful – they help me so much when I’m planning. I am leaning the way of one large statement piece as well – the next tough decision is what will that piece be!

      And Raccoon fur is a great color with a fantastic name – I think it would look great in your foyer :D

  • Reply Jen February 23, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    The gallery wall in your reference photo works because there appears to be some negative space to the side of the couch so all of that art has room to breathe. In your case, since you plan to put a bookcase next to the couch, a full-blown gallery wall might look like too much visual clutter. I agree that a larger statement piece would work better, or maybe three smaller pieces arranged in an interesting way? I’ve seen that work, too.

    • Reply thesweetbeast February 23, 2018 at 10:44 pm

      That’s true! I think a single piece of artwork will look best if we put the bookcase there – I definitely want to avoid visual clutter.

  • Reply Niki February 26, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Personally, I’m way over the gallery walls. I would go with one large piece.

    • Reply thesweetbeast February 26, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      We’re on the same page! I’m hunting around for the perfect statement piece now.

  • Reply Jen February 27, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Try something unframed … sculptural pieces that would protrude from the wall a bit (or a combo of framed/sculptural) not only give you wonderful negative space, they would cast great shadows, too! Sidenote: we have a map of the world above our couch in a simple wood DIY (no nails) frame … I love it! Good luck and post your results.

    • Reply thesweetbeast March 3, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks so much, Jen. Something sculptural sounds lovely – I’m going to add that to my list of things to look for!

  • Reply Jen February 27, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Hello again Emily … another thought is etched glass or thin metal with a pattern cut out – both installed off the wall … there are also great wire/frame systems that allow you to easily change the art and add a sculptural element … the wall is so beautiful on it’s own, consider featuring it as part of the art! I’m sure a vision for it will come to you! Jen

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