Go ahead – create a gallery wall

by Joyce on December 11, 2012

I find myself drawn to homes with gallery walls. I love how they convey a relaxed collected feeling. If you’re thinking you don’t have any fabulous art to work with – think again. It’s all about the mix.

image via slim paley

I wanted to create a gallery wall in my own home, though I didn’t think I had the right spot for it. This week I decided to move a large cabinet in my family room downstairs — this freed up valuable wall space and I set to work.  I used a combination of black and white frames. Some prints I already owned, others were pulled from books and my inspiration board. This is what I came up with.

Take a painting you inherited and combine it with an etching from e-bay, a piece of metal sculpture and some black and white photography and you’re well on your way. This is one of my favourite gallery walls by talented Canadian interior designer Christine Ralphs. She designed this wall in her home using a variety of images, some purchased very inexpensively.

Images from March 2011 – Canadian House and Home magazine

The black and white theme pulls together pieces that complement each other, without looking overly curated.

image from Lonny Magazine December 2012

In Canadian House and Home editor Suzanne Dimma’s home, she’s also mixed black, natural wood and gold frames. What a welcoming space. Each piece seems to tell a story.

While visiting the offices of Hambly and Woolley in Toronto, I discovered this fresh gallery wall in graphic designer Barb Woolley’s office. Barb has impeccable taste and it shows throughout the company’s cool loft space. Her use of initials is charming.

At Hambly and Woolley, Barb and her husband artist Bob Hambly even have a gallery wall in their lunch room! Talk about inspiring creativity.

I visited artist/illustrator Alanna Cavanagh’s studio home and couldn’t take my eyes off the gallery/salon wall she created in her living room. Alanna used some of her own work (love her men’s brogue shoe), but added a variety of pieces and textures to create an interesting vibe.

image via smallshopstudio.com

I like the eclectic feeling in this space. The mix of textures from the furniture to the art makes it fresh and interesting. Again, I see that metal on the wall – it seems to be a key ingredient in many of the best gallery walls. Frames of different thicknesses and sizes really work.

image via The Paris Apartment

Here’s another vignette that beckons you to take a closer look. I do love dark moody walls but have to say white is one of the best choices for a gallery wall, as it lets you mix so many different colours and shapes without looking busy.

Image via Apartment Therapy

So how do you get started? I think it really depends on the space, the ceiling height and the effect you’re going for. Some people lay their art on the floor and play with the arrangement. You can easily cut out newspaper or Kraft paper templates of each piece — taping them on the wall to see if you like the effect. Spacing between the frames usually varies from 2 to 4 inches – you’ll know what’s right when you stand back and squint. There really are no rules if you like the effect.

Elizabeth Sullivan via Modern 24/7 and smallshopstudio.com

I tend to start with the largest piece in the middle and fan out from there, adding and subtracting until I’m happy with the look. Ideally if I’ve left enough room, I can keep adding pieces over time. The most creative gallery walls are truly personal — combining paintings with photography and personal treasures — anything from a framed mitten to an antique key. If you love it and it means something to you — use it.

Shake off the formality of symmetrical arrangements and design your own gallery wall. I’d love to see what you come up with.

image via Lonny




What do their faces reveal?

by Joyce on November 10, 2012

Travelling between medieval towns in the south of France it’s easy to forget where you are sometimes. There are beautiful old buildings and ruins everywhere. I was taken with a few of the sculptures I saw. The faces are so expressive you can’t help wondering what they’re thinking.

Peaceful isn’t she?


Male sculptures often have fierce and angry expressions. The women seem softer  — more contemplative.  They can also be sad.  Like any work of art, they certainly make us think.









A look inside merci – a chic concept store in Paris

October 28, 2012

I’d heard a lot about merci, so … even though we were only in Paris for three days last month, I had to check it out. Set in an 18th century loft in the Oberkampf area of Paris, merci is the first charity store in France with 100 percent of all profits going to help women and children [...]

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My favourite Farrow and Ball paint colour

October 24, 2012

I’ve long been a fan of Farrow and Ball paints. I know they’re more expensive than most brands, but the colours are always beautiful. In my mind, they’re worth it. I tend to go for the subtle shades that are hard to pin down  …like Pavillion Gray, Skylight and Hardwick White. But my latest obsession is [...]

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Discovering a bit of magic in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

October 9, 2012

One of the highlights of our long-awaited trip to France last month was the charming stone house we rented just outside of Saint Remy-de-Provence. After a hectic week in Nice, we were so ready for a slower pace in the country. An allee of plane trees greeted us as we pulled off the A7 freeway and headed [...]

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California on my mind

September 1, 2012

Last month we had a fabulous week in southern California.  I can’t help smiling when I think of … young kids surfing …  an outdoor jazz concert where people of all ages mingled and danced …  incredible bike paths along the coast … seals perched on rocks basking in the sun … a dog on a skateboard that barked whenever he needed another [...]

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What can you do with a tiny cottage guestroom?

August 19, 2012

The drought in cottage country is finally over. The moss is green again and I managed to get a few things done during the downpour. When we bought our 1950′s era cottage, it had a small guestroom on the lower level decorated with wild floral wallpaper and a bright blue ceiling.  Not exactly relaxing for a [...]

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What can you do with a wooden pallet?

July 7, 2012

Whenever cottage traffic backs up on Hwy 400, we invariably take a detour through the back roads. Last weekend, I noticed an enormous pile of wooden pallets stacked near a railroad crossing. It got me thinking … what could I do with a wooden pallet – could it be upcycled into something useful and interesting??? Well, it seems [...]

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Beyond the black front door …

June 29, 2012

I’m fascinated by front doors. Not the ones I see in Toronto – they’re really not too exciting. No, what I love to see is how people around the world dress their doors and what it says about them and their culture. I like to imagine who lives there and what lies beyond their front [...]

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At my desk…

June 19, 2012

I recently gave my desk a makeover. It needed it. I liked the shape, but decided to paint the blond wood finish gray. Big improvement. This time of year it’s also a bonus if I can snip a few flowers from the garden to brighten things up. Though I usually don’t gravitate to yellow, I loved the [...]

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