Around here in Asheville, many of the contemporary homes have beautiful living rooms with a great big empty wall over the sofa. And a soaring ceiling like this may look very impressive when you're walking through the home to buy it, but then after you move in, you might start to wonder what to put on that huge wall.
One of our recent clients had the perfect solution: a big salon-style gallery wall made from her extensive collection of folk art. She and her husband have been buying pieces from the long-running American Folk Art Gallery in downtown Asheville for several years, and they had amassed a variety of paintings in all different shapes and sizes.
She brought us to her home to help her unite her collection into a layout that would work with the beautiful vaulted wood ceiling. After talking with her and seeing the paintings, we agreed that the best design would be a little bit non-traditional and asymmetrical to suit her style. It takes an artistic eye to bring unity to a really colorful collection like this - but it can be done.
Once we had a layout that she loved, we began the painstaking process of cutting out paper templates for each piece. It's important to get this stage right if you want your gallery wall to look good... and it gets a bit tricky when some of the picture frames are out of square. (That happens a lot with folk art, because it's often painted on odd surfaces like old roofing tin or reclaimed windows.)
Fortunately we have a good process for this, and it goes much faster with a team.
We copied the layout onto the wall and made a few adjustments. Again, this takes a little skill in order to get it all correctly centered on the wall, especially with an asymmetrical arrangement like this where nothing is exactly in the middle of the layout.
Then after the templates were each in the perfect place, we began replacing them with the real paintings and sculptures. For me, this is the part that feels like magic. However, it's also a fair amount of physical work to install heavy pieces like this (many of them are painted on thick wood panels) so this might not be something to do on your own.
Another consideration is how to hang each piece safely. Folk art in particular is often lacking in the hardware department, and we spent a little extra time adding stronger hangers to the backs of some of these pictures.
And you don't want to use a standard picture hook for the heavier pieces you see here. I know that the bigger ones are supposed to be rated for a lot of weight, but we've tested them in our workshop, and they're surprisingly flimsy. Fortunately we brought special hangers that can hold 50+ pounds each, even in drywall, so everything is securely installed.
Our client was thrilled with the final layout. It had a good distribution of the differently sized pieces, and also kept the various colors flowing through the mix.
Collecting most of your pieces in one particular style or genre can be a shortcut to making a collection that looks unified. Folk art comes in lots of colors, but it usually consists of simple shapes, and I think that's what makes it possible to hang all of these paintings together in a group.
By the way, check out the tree painting in the middle (the one with the tire swing). That was created by local artist Deona Fish, and the homeowners also had a few other of her pieces in the collage. The one of the chickens in the pickup truck was especially captivating. It's a family portrait (including their four children) so it's perfect for the family room.
Plus, there's a little "Florida Gator" as a reference to their favorite sports team! I dig it.
In fact, we really enjoyed seeing their whole collection of folk art, and it was a fun challenge to create cohesive display out of such a varied and colorful collection.
Filling a whole wall with art is actually an increasingly common method that interior designers are using to deal with these soaring living room ceilings. As designer Maria Killam explains it, you're using art almost like wallpaper. But it takes a little know-how to pull together a collection, and that's where we come in. We're experienced at this kind of layout, and we might have a few ideas you haven't thought of.
If you've got a big wall that needs a little gusto, please let us know. We can hang art up to sixteen feet high above the floor, so it's a great way to make a "blank canvas" wall into a feature in your home.
9:00 am to 5:00 pm, M-F
Owner: Arthur Teel
113 Rector Branch Road
Marshall, NC 28753