The Gallery Wall

Eclectic gallery wall

Image from: myrenovatedlife.blogspot.com

I knew configuring our gallery wall in the living room wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t realize what an insanely huge pain it would be. My Pinterest was filled with grand, eccentric gallery walls (like the ones above and below) and I was excited to get started.

I knew ours couldn’t be as grand, given our space constraints (really the only place that worked was the small space above the piano). Nor could it be as eccentric (my husband doesn’t really do eccentric), but I was determined to make it work.

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Image from: laurelberninteriors.com

Thankfully, designer Anna who came to the house in October (remember the zebra rug dilemma?), had already figured out and given me dimensions. I taped out the 85″ x 40″ space on our dining room floor and began unwrapping artwork (that was still packed up from our San Francisco move last Spring).

We actually have a decent amount of art (much of it was collected by our parents – pieces they picked up from their travels to Japan, China, Germany) and all of it was acquired before my husband and I started dating (hmm, I don’t like that. We’ll need to remedy that soon). It was a challenge trying to decide which pieces went well together without looking too uniform. But it was a fun challenge and I enjoyed figuring it all out.

IMG_9625 (1024x730) So now what? How were we going to transfer them to the wall? (I have to add that the art stayed on the floor like this for about a month! My husband and I both sort of ignored it, not wanting to deal with the next step.)

I’d seen articles touting the ease of cutting out pieces of paper the same dimensions of the art, taping them to the wall, driving a nail in each and voila. Simple, right?

Do this first!

Image from laurelberninteriors.com

Wrong. Cutting the paper to the exact (and we are exact around here) dimensions proved too difficult (I didn’t have thick packaging paper so I tried wrapping paper). The paper kept crinkling and it was hard to trace around the frames. And even if I did get to the point where I traced and cut them perfectly to size, I’d have to arrange them all over again on the wall, which was going to be a headache.

My husband suggested cutting a piece of cardboard (to the display dimensions), arranging the pieces again and tracing around them. This was the hardest part for me. I took pictures of the layout so I could recreate the display, but when I tried to arrange the art on the cardboard, it just wasn’t right. It took SO much tweaking before I was satisfied (I’m talking eighths of inches, but when you’re dealing with something you’re going to see every day, it has to be perfect).

IMG_9939 (600x800)He ended up tracing the art (using a level, to make sure everything was straight) and figuring out where the nail holes should be. Thank goodness he took over at this point, because for sure I would have screwed something up.

IMG_9938 (1024x1022)Then he centered the cardboard over the piano, taped it up and re-marked the nail holes on the wall (through the cardboard). He also put all the artwork up on the wall and leveled each piece.

IMG_9941 (1024x722) Hurray! I really happy with how it turned out. I regret not having the painters re-paint the walls a deep gray-blue (Brewster Gray, I love you!) while they were here doing the kitchen/family room. It would have added a dimension and feel to the room, adding mystery, while also making it more inviting. But it’s still a possibility down the line and the gallery wall definitely helps pull the room together and makes it feel more lived-in.

House-Hunting in Grosse Pointe

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I have a confession to make. We’ve actually already bought a house (no, not the one above, sadly). BUT we haven’t closed on it yet, so I don’t want to jinx anything by posting much about it. I will tell you that when we first saw the house, we nixed it off the list. But more about all that later.

When it comes to describing homes in Grosse Pointe, the words “formal,” “traditional” and “decorative” are at the top of the list. If you want a mansion, there’s one waiting for you here in Grosse Pointe. All these beauties below (and the one above) are on the market right now…

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Our needs (and budget) don’t call for a mansion or anything close. Just wanted to give you an idea of the larger homes in the area. Most of the larger estates line the waterfront, with a view of the beautiful Lake St. Clair, but many can also be found inland.

Moving on. Many of the homes currently for sale were last updated in the 60s, 70s or 80s, so the interiors leave much to be desired. At least by me. Although we have seen some homes that were recently updated and they also seemed to be heavy and ornate for my taste (we’re not in Northern California anymore, that’s for sure).

Some trends I’ve found:

1) Pool Tables. Grosse Pointers love them a game of pool, apparently. Usually the pool table is found in the basement or a wood-paneled room (which is another big trend – lots and lots of wood. The darker the better.).

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2) Grosse Pointers also love roosters in the kitchen.

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3) And stone fireplaces. (and maroon leather couches. That one came up a few times, too.)

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4) Matchy-matchy. Especially matching curtains to other pieces of furniture (bedspreads, chairs, couches).

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5) Telling stories on the walls. With paint.

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6) Wallpaper. I don’t think I saw one wallpapered room my entire 18 years in San Francisco. Here, it’s everywhere, in every house. Maybe just one room, maybe the entryway and hey, maybe on the ceiling because why not? I have to say that the whole concept of wallpaper is growing on me and I’m actually considering redecorating the new downstairs bathroom with some funky wallpaper (what is happening to me?).

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7) General over-the-top-ness. Let’s put down three Persian rugs in the sitting room! On top of each other! Or, wherever are we going to put our hundreds of wine glasses? I know! Let’s build an entire room for them. Made of dark wood, of course.

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8) Black toilets. And sinks. And bathtubs.

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9) The “I hired a designer” look. And by “I hired a designer” I mean, “I hired a Grosse Pointe designer.” Though I am sort of loving the pink chairs. Loving.

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10)  One of the trends I think is great is that many of the family rooms or dens here have built in bars. Useful and fun.

homes.bar (518x376)Many of the photos above were taken from homes we didn’t see, but some were taken from homes we did walk through and put on our shortlist (and one of the photos is from our new house!). House-hunting in Grosse Pointe has been a fun adventure (house buying, that’s a different story). It’s much harder to picture a house as your own when it’s not cleaned up and staged, but I’m glad they don’t bother with that here. I love looking through a home and seeing how it’s been lived in. How it was loved. (And sometimes how it was neglected).

There’s something surreal about walking into a stranger’s home. All their things, just out there. What bedspread they picked out, what kind of clothes they wear, which photographs they have on their mantel, what kind of pasta sauce they use. House-hunting has given me some insight into the people of Grosse Pointe (said as if they are aliens). Some are conservative and uptight, some are showy and want to be seen, some are laid back and comfortable, some are fun and eccentric, and some are busy and frazzled. I hope our new home will be a true reflection of who we are, too. Funky downstairs bathroom wallpaper and all.

*All photos taken from Trulia.com.