Split-entry gallery walls: Round 2

So, when we left off our last post, we were looking at a bit of a fuster-cluck with our entryway gallery wall project:

This (sorta) Old Life: gallery wall in process

We had lots (and lots and lots) of art to work with, but none of it was really working right. Then we found a great new piece of art that had us ready to abandon the whole idea of a gallery wall in our entry–which left us not knowing what we’d do with all the art we found for our gallery.

This (sorta) Old Life: textile art

On top of that, somehow in the middle of the whole process we decided that we really didn’t like what we’d had going on with the big wall in our living room that divides it from the kitchen. (I’ll refer to that as Big Wall from here on out.)

This (sorta) Old Life: large living room wall with triptych

This shot from last spring shows the Big Wall, with a triptych that Cane painted. We like the painting, but ever since we moved our TV to the top of the credenza (which required moving the painting up higher on the wall) something about this wall has felt off to us.

This (sorta) Old Life: gallery wall project in progress

So, when we decided that the gallery wall in the entry might not be a go, we found ourselves reconsidering everything. We emptied this wall of its art, too.

After sleeping on the whole thing Sunday night, we woke up on Monday morning and didn’t do anything for awhile. (I finished up that post and then we had some breakfast.)

I’d like to take you through all the iterations of our thought process on this and everything we’ve learned, but honestly? I don’t think there’s much of value in that, even if I could remember exactly what happened.

Instead, we’re just going to share how it went down in broad strokes:

We decided that the problem with the big wall was the TV. Before we had a TV on the credenza, I really liked this wall. I was never able to get a great picture of it, but it hung together nicely.

thissortaoldlife living room credenza wall

This shot is from late last winter. (Look-the library walls were still green then! The Big Wall was the first one we painted.)

The TV messed it all up. The art was too high, and the things flanking the TV were too low, and it just didn’t look right with that big, plastic black box sticking out like a sore thumb.

We decided to start by replacing Cane’s triptych with the three paintings we’d originally planned to put on one of the entry walls.

This (sorta) Old Life: gallery wall project in progress

We liked this much better, but we weren’t sure it worked well with the art we’d decided we wanted on the entry walls.

This (sorta) Old Life: gallery wall project in progress

The entry walls have a totally 70’s vibe going on, and a rather sophisticated one. (No, sophisticated 70’s is not an oxymoron! :-))We loved the mellow colors, the texture of the fibers, and the way the pieces complemented the light. In contrast, the Big Wall had these big, deep-toned, vibrant paintings.

Because you see both from the main living area, we just weren’t sure it worked.

This (sorta) Old Life: gallery wall project in progress

Didn’t get the panorama shot, so this will have to do.

This is the part of the process where we tried a lot of things and talked a lot and, frankly, I don’t feel like reliving it. It wasn’t bad, but it was lengthy and tedious. I’m just going to cut to the chase and show you where we ended up by the end of the day on Monday, OK?

This (sorta) Old Life: living room and entryway gallery walls

Although we liked the three big paintings on their own, we felt they didn’t do enough to diminish the TV. (Really, we’d prefer not to have a TV in this room, but there are times when we do use it–and the kids would mutiny.) We thought that if we surrounded the TV with art, the big black square would disappear a little.

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall

Another reason for going with more art is how the wall looks as we enter the house. When we stood on the stairs, the TV cut into the paintings. Now, when you enter the house you see a big splash of warm, colorful art. We like that. (As one reader commented after our last post, it’s really hard to make art decisions in a split-entry. Everything is visually connected, and you see the same pieces at different heights and angles depending upon where in the house you are.)

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall from stairs

After getting this wall all together, though, the entry walls seemed like they needed something more to be in balance with the Big Wall. We decided to beef them up with more textile-based art. We added two pieces that we think work pretty well with the others.

This (sorta) Old Life: entryway gallery wall

Although the entry and the Big Wall do have different looks going on, we think it might all work together…

This (sorta) Old Life: living room and entryway gallery wall

…but we’re not sure. On Monday night we decided to live with it for awhile, to see how it feels.

By Tuesday afternoon, I was already bugging Cane about it. I actually liked the entryway better without the extra pieces. I like a little more breathing room. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but I like space around our objects so I can really see them. A room with fewer things feels better to me.

When I look everywhere but the Big Wall, I see cohesiveness–lots of warm, mellow colors, fairly spare/minimal with lots of neutral space to give my eyes a break. The Big Wall has a lot of blue and vibrant colors. Although I like the wall all by itself, I’m not sure it fits in the room, which is what I said to Cane.

And that’s how we found ourselves considering this again:

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall

And then this:

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall

And then this:

This (sorta) Old Life: living room gallery wall

This (sorta) Old Life: split-entry living room gallery wall

One thing we’ve realized through this project is that as much as our process probably seems crazy to many of you (and it sometimes threatens to drive us crazy), it really does work for us, as long as we don’t stray too far from our values and beliefs about making a home.

If we’d decided to create a gallery wall for the entry and then went out and bought, say, a whole bunch of paint-by-numbers–any old PBNs, because the individual pieces didn’t really matter–we’d have been screwed. Once we realized that we didn’t want a gallery wall, we’d have been stuck with a lot of PBNs that we didn’t really care about.

Instead, when we abandoned the gallery wall for the entry, we still had a lot of art we really like. It wasn’t hard to find another place for many of the pieces we’ve recently acquired, which we wanted to do because we like them separately from any design solution they might be part of.

This (sorta) Old Life: split-entry living room gallery wall

That said, we can see how we strayed from one of our beliefs, and why that’s the reason we now have a few pieces we’d probably not have acquired if we weren’t looking for pieces to complete our wall project.

We’ve come to believe that it’s no good getting something unless it’s the right thing–and we lost sight of that. Too many times we’ve jumped at the not-quite-right thing because we wanted something that at least kinda worked–only to have the perfect thing appear not long afterward. That’s totally what happened with the big green piece.

Back in December we saw a large piece of textile art and talked about how it might be great to find such a piece for the entry, but we’ve seen so few things like that, we just didn’t think we’d find one.

We should’ve trusted that we would. We always do.

This (sorta) Old Life:  split-entry entryway art

We did a little research on this piece, which is handwoven and artist signed. A tag on the back tells us that it from Finland, produced by Helmi Vuorelma Oy, a small, family-owned business. We think this is a super-cool piece we’ve found.

Nonetheless, it’s all worked out just fine, and our mistakes didn’t really cost us much. (One of the best things about using thrift store art.) We didn’t get all of Cane’s buys onto our walls yet, but that’s mostly because they need some work before they’re ready to hang. We’ve got places in mind for almost everything.

This (sorta) Old Life:  thrift store art

I’m still not sold on the creepy little Dutch girl (really, she’s a bit spooky up close), but I love Nona’s sweet horse, and those old (from the 30’s) paintings on the floor will be up somewhere just as soon as we can find/make frames for them.

No matter which wall arrangement we choose, we know two things for sure:

1. We like all of them better than anything we had before.

2. Anything we land on today isn’t permanent. Our home is constantly evolving as we learn more and find more and try more.

This (sorta) Old Life: texile thrift store art

In the meantime, just for fun, we thought we’d get your input on what to do with the Big Wall gallery. If you’d like, vote for the arrangement you think works best.

This (sorta) Old Life:  gallery options

 Any thoughts or questions? You gave us so many good ideas and things to think about in response to our last post. We truly appreciated the time you took to leave us such thoughtful and thought-provoking messages. Feel free to do it again. I’ll get caught up on responding to comments soon!

(Linking to the William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries.)

 Update (1/24):

Thanks for all the input! A little more than 60% of you chose #4, the full meal gallery wall deal. The rest of you are almost evenly divided between #2 and #3. #1 got one vote.

We’re currently living with #3, due more to inertia than anything else. I’m sure we’ll think about it more this weekend. The only thing we really, truly know for sure is that the Big Wall is likely going to change. But probably not real soon. Since we like everything currently on all the walls, it’s all good. For now.