Well, I guess it’s time to address the wall.

March 14, 2016

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There’s this wall that I crop out of almost every photo I take of the great room. It’s awkward in and of itself, slightly recessed, large and blank and right in the middle of the living room. It’s that far one that the fauxdenza used to be on:


I say used to because over the weekend we moved the cabinets to their new, permanent home in between the built-ins. Since they mostly house toys, it made sense to move it down there, but also, we also kind of felt the credenza was temporarily there mostly because the walkway between the leather chair and the fauxdenza was bordering on too tight. Especially where the corner juts out–this house and its angles. Anyway, it’s a funny wall. It’s always been a funny wall from when we moved in. And we did this:


Those same pictures! They are actually lithograph prints I did in college that I put in Target frames. The great thing about Target frames is they’re cheap. Which is also the worst thing about them. We’ve had them for about 4 years now and they are officially sagging and impossible to keep straight. Just another reason to address that wall, I guess!


There was a brief moment in the wall’s history where we had our piano there which created a very tight walking space. We’re incorporating the piano into the family room now, and are so grateful it will have an official place in our home. So now that wall looks like this:


Partially light due to the fauxdenza. With those same crooked, sagging frames. It’s time to decide what we want to do with it once and for all. The original dream was to put a fireplace there. It wouldn’t be a picnic, having to figure out venting (the study is on the other side of that wall) and such, but we were willing to put in the work if it was the best option. But was it?

The more we thought about a fireplace, a few concerns came up. The living room portion of the great room is not centered with that wall. So the fireplace would have to be off-centered to really make any sense at all. I found some good examples of how that could work, although it wouldn’t necessarily be the ideal. The other concern is the walking space. Since that is our main corridor to the dining room/kitchen/laundry room, we want to make sure to keep it open and spacious and a fireplace (like the fauxdenza) would definitely crowd the area. So, ultimately, we nixed the idea for now. We might revisit down the road if the set-up in the living room ever changes.

That also left us with the conclusion that we should probably stick to something mostly 2D, like art, although incorporating sconces would also be nice since that wall tends to get dark and shadowy in the evenings. Over the past week, I’ve gone between two options.

The first would be one large piece. Which is very, very appealing.


 There’s nothing like one, huge, expensive statement piece.


I love that they aren’t busy, but it would have to be around 80″-90″ wide to really feel proportionate which is huge. And like I said, expensive. And is there anything I love so much that I’d want to see it that big? Forever? Actually, that first black piece I think I would love forever and ever.

The other option is a larger grid of frames, which is where I’m leaning since it has a bit more flexibility and less expensive. Since the wall is so large, I’d like the frames to be quite big (significantly larger than they are right now) so it wouldn’t get too busy.


It would also be a good opportunity to bring in family photos, current or ancestral. (Kim’s vintage photo wall is one that I’ve had bookmarked since she did it!) Or maps or more art. Architecture.



Whatever it is, I think floor to almost ceiling (gotta leave room for lighting!) is the way to go. And since the wall is recessed, I’m thinking of painting it darker to make it look more intentional.

Large frames in a grid with photographs + accent painted wall. Yes? Weigh in in the comments! Wall, we’re gonna figure you out this week!

Inspiration Photo Cred: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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What do you think?

  1. Caeli says:

    Or Kuba cloth?

  2. Caeli says:

    Have you thought about an African Mudcloth tapestry? Like a black and white one? If you already have mudcloth pillows (can’t remember if you do or not) it would blend nicely. Then you wouldn’t have two picture collages in the same room, although I think that is also nice. You could stretch it somehow so that it looks less ‘drapey’ and more like a piece of art.

  3. Angela says:

    Forget about the wallpapers, I am in love with the art and pictures. I mean seriously, they are the essence of the wall that comprehends perfectly. Got to pin the picture. So beautiful Julia :)

  4. Lauren B says:

    I’m all for a textile. There is amazing work being done by quilters all over the country as modern quilts and art quilts are getting a voice. I recommend googling “Quiltcon 2016” (or searching on Instagram) – you will be blown away.
    But art provides such endless options- cool wallpaper or some amazing work of your own. Hard to go wrong- but I’d go big to provide a nice foil to your other gallery-type displays.

  5. Karen says:

    Yay!! You heard me on the email thing! Thank you. As to the wall, I do like the idea of a dark wall and large frames and also a narrow bench too. Would be lovely.

  6. MK says:

    We have a similar wall and my plan (eventually!) is to use embossed wall panels painted the same color as the rest of the room.

    • Shawna says:

      Ooooh LOVE this idea – and with some ‘art lights’ to set it off with a bench below… could totally see this! :)

  7. Teri says:

    What?! You’re an artist? Heck yeah, put your piece on the wall. You don’t have to sign it or even own up to it, just say “yes, isn’t it lovely?” when the compliments come rolling in.

  8. Roe says:

    I applied to have you guys makeover my house so I’m sure whatever you guys decide to do will be great. I vote for one large piece. You could always paint something yourself and do a cool diy frame option.
    Or like the comments above a really large textile.

  9. Catherine says:

    I have to echo some of the comments above – I really think that wall wants a large statement piece. I like Sara’s idea of wallpaper, either a fun print or mural. Gwen at The Makerista has an awesome custom mural in her dining room that she details the process of – something like that would be affordable and have an awesome impact. A cool vintage tapestry or exotic textile, like a suzani, would also look great.

  10. Sara says:

    What about wallpapering the wall? Anthropoligie has some great map/landscape murals that could give you that impact of one larger image, without buying an expensive singular piece of artwork. I used the Etched Arcadia mural up in my foyer, split across two parallel walls, and it looks amazing. I get so many compliments about it.

  11. I’m a sucker for any hallway that is clear of stuff, since I am that person who crashes into the corner of every piece of furniture. And a gallery wall lets you change things up pretty easily if you get tired of it!

  12. Amy says:

    I definitely think one large piece would be great on that wall, as opposed to a grid.You should check out this site – my sister and her husband ordered a large piece for the wall above their sofa and it’s great. It was very affordable for something large, too!

  13. Natalia says:

    You should totally do a large scale something on that wall… Painting, Textile / Bas Releif Sculpture / light installation of some sort (you mentioned that it’s shadowy…)

  14. Jessica says:

    I feel like you want to invite that wall INTO the space; it’s so funny. But I think painting it a different colour would likely have the opposite effect. Keep it in the same family as the room you want it to feel connected to. I love the idea of a textile or hanging rug (or even something you paint yourself, it’s for your family after all). So I’d lean toward maintaining the cohesion of colour in the room and then add lighting and one big piece – there is a lot going on in that space overall.

  15. Alison G says:

    I would pick a mural. Or a textile as mentioned above. Fishing for free artwork, like you got in the hallway?

    • Julia says:

      I didn’t know there was such a thing as “free artwork!”

      • Kate says:

        Nicely played Julia. You are a class act.

        I agree with other commenters to do something with bigger impact versus smaller grids. Our house is really casual so that would be my mandatory chalkboard wall location!

  16. Haley says:

    I love both of these ideas! I would love to see a giant painting of yours in that spot.

  17. Lynne says:

    One big piece. Something soft, like a big rug, or woven work of art with texture.

    • Julia says:

      I love the idea of a textile!

      • liz says:

        Do you have any family quilts? Sometimes even the really old quilts are surprisingly modern in color and style. I have some tops I bought which I won’t quilt but would great stretched on a frame and hung.

        When I cleaned out my mom’s house, I found a few boxes of old patterns – I tossed the tissue portion of the patterns but kept the covers since they were great history of the styles through the years. I used inexpensive black frames, different colored backgrounds and hung them above my sewing table. I can change them out when I get tired of looking at them.

        I like the look of the organized wall of pictures and I like the idea of changing the prints inside when I feel like it. You have so many options!

    • Shawna says:

      Am I too late? Maybe you already sorted all of this out… but thought I’d share a couple of things that came to mind in case it wasn’t already included :) I’m a huge fan of the textile idea – you could certainly make something similar to that first huge piece with drop cloth or something to that effect… Also, I like tapestries – I’ve seen some cute and interesting one’s inexpensive (like Urban Outfitters and the likes), but I’m sure you could find something that looks more high end and such, simpler pattern, that would complement well. Also in the textile range… rugs – if you found something lighter weight with a really interesting but simple pattern… or those beautiful woven wall hangings I’ve seen… I think something artsy would be lovely no matter what you do! LOVE your home and your ideas… and I must second the above comments about your art – LOVE LOVE LOVE… and totally not narcissistic IMO ;)

  18. Libby says:

    Love the grid idea! Have you considered tearing that wall down? It would open up your family room even more, without the narrow walk-way to the kitchen, and guests could enjoy your open shelves in the green room even more!

    • Julia says:

      When we first moved in we played with that idea, but we really like having that little green room, and although it doesn’t have a door, I can go in there and work while Chris and the girls are in the great room and it gives me a little bit more quiet.

  19. Sarah says:

    I love the larger grid of frames! I haven’t seen that as much as I have the smaller grids

    I would love a statement wall color too! I fell in love with iron ore from Sherman Williams when I recently saw it on the wall at pottery barn

  20. What about a large map of the world? That would be visually interesting AND educational. Or maybe that would be better downstairs in the playroom area of the family room…

  21. Mary says:

    I know it’s crazy expensive but a big piece would work better since you have sooo much stuff already to look at between the living, dining, and kitchen that a grid of more frames just seems like clutter town. Maybe you and the kids could collaborate on something so it’s not as awkward for you? I don’t like putting my own artwork on my walls, either.

    • Lydia says:

      I was just thinking the same — that it should be your own art. It would be wonderful.
      After seeing that big black piece and loving it so much, it’s hard to get the thought of something so large and powerful it out of my mind. I totally think you could, and should, create your own statement there.

  22. Kelly says:

    Why don’t you paint something?!? If my mind serves me, you don’t have any of your own stuff hanging in your current place!! Something moody and a little metallic would be swoon-worthy!

    • Julia says:

      I have a few, smaller pieces of my own on our walls. But I feel like it would me narcissistic to hang something that big that I did. Haha.

    • Julia! I still remember pinning (yeeeaaars ago!) a large canvas where you painted a few lines of a favorite poem (or was it a song?). You do large art so well, but I can’t wait to see where you land with this.

      • Julia says:

        Ah, you’re so nice. It was a Robert Frost poem. You guys are good cheerleaders. I might have to order some canvas….

    • Alicia M says:

      I came to the comments to say the same thing! You have SUCH a talent Julia! Why not try your hand at your own piece? If you’re unhappy with a large canvas, you can always cut it up, paint over it and make smaller canvases.

  23. Jessica says:

    I have a large blank wall like this in my kitchen. It is a walkway from hallway to dining room, so no furniture can be placed there. I have been doing tons of configurations of frames on the wall in photoshop, and have not found the perfect one yet. I am loving your last inspiration photo. We have dark lower and white upper cabinets, and have been thinking about painting the wall dark with white frames. Can’t wait to see what you guys do. I need some inspiration!

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