Everyone loves a good before-and-after post, but according to one of my favorite home design bloggers, The Nester, the “in progress” posts are the best kinds.
Think she’s right? I do.
Why? Because that’s the reality: that our homes, like our lives, are always works in progress. Morphing and changing and developing and rearranging…not pinterest-perfect, just-right and permanently fixed.
So today I wanted to show you my morphing gallery wall. It’s not perfect. It’s not done yet. It looks different each month, and I don’t think it’ll ever be finished. But I want to share where it’s at so far because I think you’ll appreciate it. It’s been one of my most favorite and FUN home projects to date.
About 3 months ago, I said to myself, That’s it. I am TIRED of my mudroom looking like a slightly cleaner extension of my garage.
This is the first ROOM we walk into when we come into our house, and I want it to actually look like part of the house, not the garage, or just as bad, some in-between, taste-less, color-less, personality-less no man’s land.
The mudroom is not a “living space” per say, but time after time, as people come and go into our home, it becomes THE main space where everyone stands and talks for 20 minutes before we all say goodbye or goodnight.
It’s the main (and only) entry to the rest of our home.
It’s the space where I stand and chit chat with a friend who popped over to drop something off, or pick something up.
It’s the space we all crowd into when we first come in from the cold or the heat.
It’s the first and last view we, and our guests have of our home before we enter or leave it.
In all honestly, I think I might actually do more entertaining here than I do in my actual living room.
But more than for the occasional guest who may or may not stop by, I wanted this room to be cozy (mudroom–cozy?) and inviting and beautiful for ME and my family.
To be a space that warmly greets my tired husband when he steps in to take off his shoes and coat after a long day of work. To be a space that says, welcome home, family.
But mostly, I just didn’t want it to look like the blah nothingness that it was.
First order of business: repaint.
Because isn’t that always the best way to totally start fresh in a room? I loooove to change things up with paint!
While the previous paint was actually a really nice brown for the entirety of the 8 or so years we’ve lived in our town home, it was DARK and so it made the front entry look a bit gloomy. The only reason we kept it that color for so long was because the natural morning light streaming in made us not always NOTICE how dark the color actually was… and also because we had long used up any of the remaining paint from the original can, and so we could no longer touch up the gazillion nicks and dents and scrapes, nor did we remember the name of the color to get more.
Eight years after it’s first painting, it was looking really, really bad.
I don’t actually have a true before picture to show you. Naturally, I forgot to take one, and then I quickly snapped a photo when we were part way through our painting. But I promise, it did not look any better than this. There was nothing (nothing!) hanging on the walls for the past year or two (we had tried mirrors or the occasional wreath, but nothing ever seemed to stay hanging, mostly because they were hung lazily/incorrectly).
|Both paint colors, side by side–what a contrast!|
In the picture above, you can see the color going ON the walls is much, much lighter than the brown that was there.
By the way, I used Canvas Natural for the color–it’s a RL paint but I had Sherwin Williams match it for me because I get a discount there. It’s the favorite color of one of my other favorite decorators–The Old Painted Cottage.
My husband and I immediately loved the lightness of the room, even before we made a single other change. It felt SO MUCH bigger with the lighter color.
Lighten and brighten. That’s my decorating motto this year.
So here’s the before/during pic (except try to imagine the right side wall is still brown)…
And here is the after/work in progress pic:
What a difference it is to open up the front door to this view now.
Now for some project details:
So I knew I wanted to do a gallery wall there in that big blank space. I spent about a month gathering, collecting, thrifting and ordering things to build my collection. Little by little the pieces came together.
Oh. You may also notice from the pics that we painted the doors in this room black (they were a mauve-y neutral that didn’t mesh with the new wall color). I am LOVIN’ how the black doors look~very dramatic and I think the dark doors ground the rest of the lighter colors. Totally a risk worth taking.
I wanted one or two larger pieces to build around, so I ordered the large family picture on canvas (from Easy Canvas Prints). They were having a big sale, so I got 2 additional prints–the one of my daughter, and the one of my 2 older boys) for a great price. Eventually, I’ll choose a good pic of my baby love, Caleb, to add to the wall as well.
Some of you are probably wondering, how exactly do you go about building a gallery wall–like what goes where, and what are the “rules” for spacing things, etc.
Well, I really have no clue and that’s the truth. I just look at enough of what I like to get a general idea of what appeals to me.
I am sure some peeps lay out their pictures and artwork on the floor and arrange them how they want before hanging. Other (more impulsive?) people just start nailing things into the wall. And you know what? While a little pre planning can’t hurt, I think it actually works great to just start nailing things up ONTO the wall, EVEN when you’re still not totally sure.
Like with REAL nails that leave REAL holes.
Because here’s the thing.
Who cares if you accidentally put one or two more nail holes in your wall than you intended? WHO CARES! You can honestly cover them up or fill them in in like 5 minutes if you have to. I think the key is to get OVER your fear of getting it just right. You have to just start somewhere by nailing something up.
So that’s what I did.
And it was so much fun, just randomly adding all the pieces I’d been collecting, that I just nailed in one picture or shelf or wreath after another. Woo hoo! It was looking better and better.
Half hour later, I had this pretty great looking gallery wall.
The best part was that I kept all of this a secret from my husband (including the canvas pictures) and I put everything up while he was at work one day. It was so great to see his reaction when he came in that night! He’s a sweety and he really, truly appreciates when I cozyify our home.
Yes, I’ve changed it a dozen or so times, but that’s the fun of it. If you get tired of something hanging where it is, you can move it some place else and hang whatever on the nail that’s there. The day before I took these pics, I got that little boxwood wreath, and I was sorta trying it there…now that I see the pictures, I don’t think I LOVE having it right next to another wreath. But it’s so easy and fun to switch it around that it’s okay.
Sometimes we stress ourselves out so much about WHAT to hang WHERE on our big, blank, boring walls that they end up staying big and blank and boring for a very long, long time. I should know.
I’m sure I also broke a few “rules” when making my gallery wall.
Instead of taping around and protecting our unused home security box thingy that I HATE, I painted right over an it so it would blend in with my wall and not stand out like a sore thumb.
Then I busted out my hot glue gun and used a dot of glue to attach that S right on top of it. Who says I can’t?
I continued the gallery wall onto the part of the wall that bumps out. Nothing I had left to hang really fit “perfectly” and the two things I nailed up are both too BIG for the space. But why do they have to fit perfectly? Why not let them hang over?
The rule I really, really tried to follow? ONLY put things on my gallery wall that were MEANINGFUL and beautiful to me and my family.
Obviously there are family and kid pictures.
I heart nature, and so there are TONS of nature-elements all throughout my home. In this space, I’ve added plants, a fun Mossy Monogram, and a dollar-store grapevine wreath.
I also really enjoyed going through an old hymnal and choosing a hymn that spoke to my heart, and framing it. And the cool thing? I’ve already changed it twice. It’s cool to frame what you love.
This is the first time I’ve ever used one of these small IKEA picture shelves…they only have a bit of a lip on them, and they’re used for displaying books or picture frames or small chachkies.
Just the right amount of space for adding a vase (or an empty baby food jar) filled with some greenery, or a bird and a nest. I like to change out what I have there.
The adorable little “hello” sign (hanging above our family canvas) was ordered for $7 from this etsy shop–I haven’t even painted it yet, but isn’t it the cutest? They sell other words too.
Speaking of words, I probably overdid it a bit with the wording on this wall…there are 3 scripture art pieces, plus the hello sign, plus the two S’s and the number 6 which I temporarily moved to try out my boxwood wreath.
What do you think? Too much?
Probably so, but what I love is that each piece really and truly IS meaningful to me…I mean, the fruits of the spirit? Come on, that is like my daily prayer for myself and my children and husband–that we can LIVE that verse out with one another. The other scripture is a favorite from the book of Ruth, and I have those pieces hung behind a photo of me and my hunny.
There are also some odd little homemade pieces filling in some blank spaces–the little tiny satin flower art…it’s just 2 homemade flowers pinned onto a tiny canvas that I smeared with some white and green acrylic paint. I don’t love it, but I wanted a pop of color, and I like it enough to leave up for a while anyway.
And the black frame with the sticks was just a little experiment I did one day with a broken picture frame that had been sitting around, some hot glue and a few sticks…I thought, why not frame these sticks?
In decorating ANY room of my house, it’s my goal, not to get things looking formal and perfectly “just so,” but to create spaces that are inviting, inspiring, and reflective of our family.
When I can achieve that goal, it feels good.
Soon I’ll give you a tour of the rest of my entry way / mudroom–not as FUN as a gallery wall tour, but practical because I’ll show you how I’ve organized and decorated the rest of the space to look nice AND be super functional for our busy family of 6.