I think part of me was afraid to put holes in our plaster walls, and part of me had no clue where to start. How do you decide what to hang and where in a house full of blank walls? All of our pictures and frames shuffled from pile to pile and eventually ended up stacked in a pile of their own in the sunroom just waiting to fulfill their destiny. Then it happened. During one of my many hours spent on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this:
Solid. Gold. Exactly the inspiration I needed. This is actually Thomas O'Brien's first New York City apartment, and I love everything about it. I love that you want to actually stand there in his bedroom to get a better look at the gallery wall. I love that this room is so liveable and comfortable. I love that he played up the natural light with the mirror. And most of all, I love that the chaos of everyday life blends right in with everything else. Because I would really be kidding
myself no one if I tried to make our house perfectly staged like Young House Love's dining room (which is gorgeous, but completely unrealistic for clutter-pros like us). Our house would look like a constant disheveled mess that was trying to be modern and sleek and it just wasn't working out. Like Donald Trump's hair. One hot mess.
The only thing preventing me from starting this project right away was the bookshelves. I have a bagillion books and have wanted a "library" since I was 5 and watched Beauty and the Beast. I mean, who WOULDN'T want this??
What were we talking about again? Oh right, bookshelves. I had been hemming and hawing over purchasing library-style bookshelves from Ikea since the week we moved in, but something just didn't seem right. I couldn't figure out what my hesitation was, but I was driving Brian mad with my back and forth-ness on the subject. All of my books were just in piles in the living room, out of the way, but certainly not pretty. I finally figured out that I felt the tall bookshelves would dwarf the room, making our largest, most open room seem smaller. I also don't have enough books to fill an entire wall of bookshelves, and to top that, I couldn't figure out where the bookshelves would actually go in the room. Lots of decisions and zero ideas. Which is why this Thomas O'Brien picture is solid gold. Waist-high bookshelves! This thought had never even crossed my mind. First of all, they wouldn't take over the room, second, I could fill them with the books I currently have, and third, it would give me somewhere to actually put stuff, like candles and pictures and keys.
So the bookshelf search began with a fervor. The best possibility I could find online was this Billy Bookcase from Ikea:
It was a good height and plain and simple like I was looking for, but the length was set and there were no other options. In order for these to look like built-ins, I would need approximately 2.5 on one side of the wall, and 3.2 on the other side of the wall. The other negative? Even though the bookshelves are cheap individually, to buy 6 of them would end up around $250. And they wouldn't look so great with half of a bookshelf on one side and a quarter of one on the other. Here's where I call my dad, master craftsman and general fix-it pro. I once told my sister, who was 2 or 3 at the time, to take her popped balloon to dad because "daddy will fix it."
Just before Christmas he brought over 2 custom-built bookshelves the exact height and width and depth I was looking for, and all I had to do was slap some paint on them. Since I wanted them to look like built-ins, I planned on painting them white, the same as the molding, which meant he could use the cheaper plywood. He had a few items on hand in his garage-turned-workshop, but said the sheet of plywood and the backing came out to about $30...waayyy cheaper than ole Ikea.
After a few coats of semi-gloss white paint with a thin foam roller, they were ready to roll. I waited a few days to let the paint cure so it wouldn't get nicked and dinged while I was setting them up. My books fit nearly perfectly, and I had so much fun finally hanging pictures on the wall.
It's it great? This is by far my favorite part of our house right now. It screams Kindra. Nerdy, eclectic, busy, and sentimental, all on one wall. And, to make things even better, it serves a purpose! My books are finally off the floor and nicely organized, and we have a place to put our keys when we come in. And it was FREE!! With a little creativity and "borrowing" from my parents house, I didn't have to buy anything to complete the wall.
As you can see, Fulga is front and center, mainly because it's the biggest piece of "art" we own. I plan on painting over it with a quote or something so we don't have to stare at creepy naked painters all day. I mean, maybe naked painters are your thing, but we would rather go a more conservative, non-creepy route. Other than Fulga and the mirror, I didn't have any specific idea of where I wanted pictures to go. I just started hanging and figured out what worked. It didn't matter to me that the pictures all evenly spaced, so it was kind of nice to just go with the flow and figured it out as I went along.
My mom had the mirror resting on her mantle until a few years ago when we bought her a giant clock to take its place, so it has been residing in the back of a closet ever since, and it was just the size I needed. It really does a great job of bringing extra light into the room, and since this room has no overhead lights, it also amplifies the lamp-light.
When we were measuring for the bookshelves, we made sure to measure for depth as well. Since the door opens up to the wall the bookshelves would be on, they couldn't be so deep that they would obstruct the door. I knew some of my large coffee table books wouldn't fit, but I wouldn't rather find someplace else to put them than have a front door that doesn't fully open. I'm not sure what our final measurement was, but I think it was about 9" deep, and as you can see from the picture, the door still opens more than 90 degrees. (sorry for the evening pictures...the flash is rough on the glass and the lighting is all off)
I've always been one who scoffed at the thought of decorating with pictures and furniture from big box stores where everything always looks the same and pictures are just color on the wall and nothing more. I feel a home should reflect the people who live there, and part of that means pictures and wall-hangings should serve a purpose of offering a little bit of insight of who the people really are. Well, our gallery wall offers 27 different stories about who we are, and since I don't want to bore you to death, I'll share just a few. And yes, that is double-sided tape stuck to the bottom left mirror. Further evidence that D-S tape is my favorite thing and is literally used in everything I do. No joke. I just hung curtains yesterday and used D-S tape to hold them in place. It's like magic on a roll.
One obstacle on when hanging pictures was the thermostat. It's nicely placed smack dab in the middle of the house, and it's definitely not the prettiest thing to look at. Mr. T does a nice job of helping to mask it though. Brian picked him out from the Lake Eola farmer's market, and he is very proud of his contribution to the wall. I don't really know who Mr. T. is/was, but I DO know Friends, and this is one of my all time favorite Chandler moments: (Seriously. Watch it. It will make your day.)
Above the thermostat on that same side of the wall is Roy. B. Bird (aptly named by me), my favorite picture at my grandparent's house, a colorful cross stitch piece my grandpa made. My grandpa was really phenomenal at cross stitch, and most of the pictures hanging in their house were either my grandma's paintings or my grandpa's cross stitch. The colorful bird one was my favorite since the first time I visited their house in Houston, and unbeknownst to me, my aunt had written my name on the back, "claiming" it for me. I have no idea when she wrote my name on it, but after my grandmother passed, it was sitting there waiting for me. Honestly, I think it's probably my favorite thing on the wall. Thanks Aunt Linda!
Towards the end of hanging stuff I started running out of pictures to put in my frames. I didn't want to go to the store and print pictures in the right sizes, so I got creative. The quote is a quoteable card that I had in my "stationery box" that I just taped directly to the wall, and the key was our first key to the house, before we changed all the locks.
Yes, the Vizsla picture was crooked when I took this picture. Yes, it's driving me crazy. I bought sticky putty to keep everything straight and aligned after I took this picture. Really, though, the purpose of this picture was the mask. If you read my blog from Italy, then you remember this was the mask Sergio made especially for me. It still is one of my favorite things, and now it has a proper display so everyone can enjoy it.
That's it for me. The other pictures you're just going to have to see for yourself. :)