If you aren’t an avid art collector, the idea of dressing blank walls can be so intimidating. After all, there are only so many mirrors you can prop up before a room goes from “reflective” to “fun house.” Oftentimes, in the early stages of scheming, I find that people balk at spending money on their walls. They’re willing to invest in furniture, fabric and rugs, but wall decor takes a little more convincing. However, until those vertical elevations are properly addressed, a room will never feel done.
In my own home, my husband and I are slowly honing in on artwork that means something to us. We fell in love with a piece from Paul Rafferty after spending a magical day with him and his wife in St. Paul de Vence. His “Orange Tree” is on my ultimate wish list. We have a few horse photographs from Shelli Breidenbach, but other than that most of what’s hanging in our house was culled from consignment shops, antique markets and the occasional online find.
So I do a lot of place-holding on my own walls and in clients’ homes, using three dimensional objects to create a more finished effect. It’s a great way to complete a space without investing too much money, since you can usually repurpose what you already have or find what you need on the cheap.
Simple brackets and corbel ledges are typically my first pick when I need to fill in the blanks. They’re simple to hang and make perfect pedestals for displaying everyday items in a meaningful and cohesive way: ginger jars, a collection of pretty dessert plates, colorful vases, topiaries, bowls or even antique stuffed animals in a child’s room. The opening shot at the top of the page is from a boy’s room we designed and the brackets add depth and interest simply by displaying a few simple accessories that were already in the room.
These 3D accoutrements can also be functional; recently I helped a city friend create a usable gallery wall in her entryway since she needed a space to plunk keys and mail but didn’t want to overwhelm the “foyer” with furniture. We decided to use a wall bracket as a floating console, perching a colorful catchall on top. The shelf was flanked by glossy brass wall sleeves to conceal mail.
Pedestal shelves are often more comfortable in a traditional or transitional home, but certainly some of the lucite brackets (like the ones pictured above from Wisteria) can work in a more modern setting.
Wall baskets are another go-to. In my own home, I have a trio of multicolored “Hope Baskets” accenting an awkward wall sandwiched between the kitchen peninsula and the doorway in my family room.
When a blank wall is also doomed by a lack of light – but you can’t deal with calling in an electrician – I rely on plug and play sconces, like Palecek’s Green Oaks Wall Pendants, which add interest and illumination using an ordinary outlet. I’m all about the multitasker.
For a more glamorous effect, I love the revival of mid-century C. Jere wall urchins. A trio of these spiny creatures adds serious drama, and you certainly don’t have to spring for the designer variety, like the ones pictured above at Jonathan Adler.
I also stumbled across these sculptural Campbell wall gems from Kravet. I’d plaster a cache of these in a powder room or along hallway walls. So chic.
Simple ceiling medallions from Home Depot – painted or left in their raw plaster – can also add textural and architectural interest to walls that otherwise lack these details. Oddly enough, sun-bleached or resin turtle shells can accomplish the same sort of effect.
Honestly, there’s no limit to what you can string up and oftentimes, the odder the better. Case in point: the Juju hat. We’re regularly adding ideas to our “Wall Decor” board on Pinterest, so be sure to check it out if you need inspiration.