10 Less Traditional Things To Fill Bare Walls

May 16, 2013

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

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I have recently retired from offering mood boards after making them for hundreds of clients for the past two and a half years.  There just isn’t enough time these days and I would love to focus on other projects. In those two and a half years, I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve hunted a lot.  And I’ve peeked into a lot of homes and rooms. One question that I got over and over was, “What do I do with these huge bare walls?”
Big art ($$$) yes. Engineer prints–sure. A gallery wall–obviously. But here are a few other, less traditional, ideas that I’ve recommended over the years that can fill wall space, add a lot of interest and maybe even set you apart.
1. Bikes. This can be out of necessity, like maybe you live in a small apartment and need a place for your bike–might as well make it “art.”  But even if you have all the space in the world, hanging your bike in a prominent place can look pretty cool.

2. Flags. The bigger. The better.

3. 3D quotes. We put together this large quote for the wall in the studio and the impact still gets me when I walk in the room. It’s completely customizable and personal, too.
4.  Frame wallpaper.  This one almost appears as a painted mural on the wall.  Build a frame, or trim it out with wall moldings.
5. Hats. There are a million excellent examples of these are just two of my favorites.  It feels so easy and chic–but probably skip displaying your baseball hat collection in the living room.
6. A giant clock.  So this one isn’t totally out-of-the-box. But I’ve recommended this 50″clock at least a dozen times because 50 inches!? That’s huge for around $200.
7. Tapestries.  I am committed to using a huge tapestry somewhere in our home and this bedroom inspiration has me even more sold/drooling over the idea.  Urban Outfitters sells some tapestries and of course, scour ebay!
8. Anything. Ha! Random everyday found objects hung in a series, create a graphic focal point on an architecture-free wall. Also, could make for a fun game of I Spy.  Is that a potato masher??
9.  In the appropriate setting, oars (or surf boards, etc.) look so chic.  Obviously coastal, but check out the more modern application on the right.
10.  Lastly, photo ledges with smaller pictures lining an entire wall.  Can you imagine the fun guests would have with this?  The conversation? Something special there.
Do you have any out-of-the box things filling your walls? Ready to implement one of these? Or maybe you’re embracing bare walls, which can be a beautiful thing, too.

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What do you think?

  1. Richard Baggett says:

    Love the Giant clock. Too cool

  2. Nikki M says:

    Great post! I just moved into a house with a giant (two story) wall in the dining area. Now I have some ideas for how to fill it!

  3. I love this! I have a two story wall where our stairs are and would love a flag — I really want a first aid one like Emily Henderson has since I’m a nurse and plan on getting a tattoo like that. i really like the bike one too :)

  4. Great tips! I can’t get enough of the oversized clocks, personally. I filled up one blank wall in our bedroom with a wooden quilt ladder my grandpa handmade when I was a little girl– stripped limbs lashed together with leather. It has really added some visual interest.

  5. We have a large wall to fill in our open living/dining room area…and two doorways right next to each other on the wall, so we figured a big barn door would fit the bill. We love it…it’s one of our favorite things!

  6. Laura says:

    There are some fabulous quilt designs that are simple and very attractive (as in, not looking like your grandmother’s house). My mom and I are going to work on one this summer for a huge open wall 2 stories high in our entry way. The last residents left this awful, homemade painting of a still life potted plant hanging there. It’s pretty bad.

    I also have this on my pinterest.
    Some day, I would LOVE to have some kind of score or manuscript enlarged on an empty wall.

  7. Great ideas! I’m definitely going to try the 3-D wall quote in our living room once we get that room painted this summer!

  8. I needed this post! We have huge empty walls in our entry that will have no table/furniture underneath to anchor any art above, so these ideas area super helpful – thanks Julia!

  9. Jen says:

    We’ve got a big empty frame on one wall–we picked it up SUPER cheap from an estate sale and it’s got that perfect combination of being in good shape but looking slightly worn/old–and the plan is to use wire to hang air plants in it. I got my inspiration from this:
    There are tons of vertical and hanging planters on the market, and I think greenery is always a good way to fill space and make it look lived in.

    Oh, and at our old house we had a couple of African spears on the wall next to some batiks of giraffes. Those always got some raised eyebrows and fun comments. My husband lived in Kenya for a couple years and brought home some crazy stuff, so I’m always trying to work that into our decor without it screaming safari. :)

  10. We have so many bare walls too. I love the idea of a tapestry because it can add so much warmth and texture to the room. The one you found in the bedroom is gorgeous! I just spent a quick minute looking at ebay and most of what I found was pretty funny…some come with 3D glasses as a free add-on! :) Guess I will need to spend some time really looking!

    Great post!

  11. Kathy says:

    love the idea of hanging wall paper on a frame! We have soo soo many bare walls in our house bc I’m always stumped about what to do with them! You can’t have gallery walls everywhere!

  12. Clementine says:

    My husband is a carpenter and he likes to collect old fashioned hand tools. We have a nice collection of vintage wooden levels on the wall right now. Not only are they pretty, but they’re easy to hang. ;)

  13. Ryan and I want a beachy look, and we are SO excited to find things like oars and other weathered items that can be found at the beach. Oooo maybe drift wood too!

  14. vicks27 says:

    In our upstairs hallway, we have a huge green awning hanging. On it, I painted the Douglas Adams quote, “Flying is simple: Just throw yourself at the ground, and miss.” It’s BIG and all of our company talks about it after they’ve gone upstairs to use the restroom :)

  15. I have old parts that I think are from lace factory machines. I have one of them hanging in my living room because I LOVE it! It’s different and I have no idea what EXACTLY it is and people always ask “what is that neat looking thing” haha. I love non traditional things to hang on walls. This was totaly eye candy for me this morning. Thanks. Oh and funny you are stopping your mood board making because I’ve started mine! (no clients yet)

  16. Rebecca says:

    I still love your 3-D wall quote! That giant clock is great, too. We have a tall, skinny clock (it only has the 12 and the 6) adding some interest to a very narrow wall in our place. My favorite piece of wall art is the over-sized abacus we bought from CB2 a few years back. We have fun creating designs on it to change up the look of the wall.

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