Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

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Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

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My best bargain purchases…

Or, Thank You to charity shops and modern house builders…

As summer slows to a halt and I start moving indoors more, I have started to cast the eye over the house once more.  You know the drill… time to start tweaking and changing and improving.

I have had a bit of a purge recently of overflowing cupboards, and whilst doing it I noticed that a lot of my furniture and household items are bargains bagged from charity shops, auctions and even the odd skip.  Not a lot is new at all, not that I would not love to go on a splurge in some of my favourite shops.

Most items of furniture that I have found have been mainly tall or long, and lingering in junk shops.  We have very high ceilings in our house, so the taller pieces of furniture fit brilliantly and most people cannot fit them into their modern homes.  As long as the basic shape of a piece is good, then it is amazing what some paints effects or a refurbishment can create.  My friend Gaby has the best comment for when a bargain priced item is found, she says “it would be rude not to…”.  Therefore in the politest fashion I can justify snapping things up.

This very tall Victorian glazed mahogany cabinet came from a Charity shop.  No-one else wanted it as it is a whopping 10 feet tall.  I backed the inside of the cupboard with some printed burlap that I had left over from an upholstery project, and it was ready to use.  Total cost £90

In the hallway, this orange-toned pine sideboard was very large and lingering in another charity shop.  A dash of Annie Sloane graphite chalk paint that I already had, and it was transformed.  Total Cost: £80

Whilst at the same shop, I also snapped up this large mirror for just £10, a lick of paint transformed it:

This armoire came from the same charity shop as the tall glazed mahogany cabinet.  A makeover with some leftover chalk paint, and a beautiful wallpaper in the panels turned it into a real gem.  Cost: £40 for the cupboard and £42 for the wallpaper on sale down from £90, (costly wallpaper, but I loved it!).  So a total of £82.

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Removing Garden Decking…

Or, where big spiders really live…

When we moved to our current house, the prior owner had been a bit of a gardening wizard.  She even opened the garden to the public in the National Garden Scheme whereby money is raised for charity by allowing the public into homeowners private gardens.  No pressure then to try and keep up her good works!

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Fast forward a few years, and I think the garden is not quite what it was – although I do try hard to keep it up.  One area especially had become very tatty, some decking next to the house.  England is just not a good place to have wood as flooring outside; there is just too much water and damp, and it becomes slippery, green and needs a lot of TLC.  So for a few years I have dutifully stripped it back and re-oiled it each year, but even that did not really help it survive.  It started bowing and felt quite unsafe, so the joists below had definitely started to rot.

Here it is already looking quite tired:

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Master Bedroom gets a makeover

Farrow and Ball paint and things lurking under the stairs.

This week I was browsing a paint department, and happened upon a discounted 5L tin of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Brinjal’ matt emulsion.  This leaves me with 2 thoughts:

a) I need to get out more and stop loitering in paint departments when I have free time.

b) Loitering in paint departments can be seen as serendipity when bargains are to be had.

Anyhow, onto the paint… This is the most intense dark aubergine with red rather than blue tones, and I have always dreamt of doing a room in it.  Like an Olympian athlete I launched myself toward the paint pot it at high speed, and clutching my bargain I sped home.  I also managed to secure some bargains on some anthracite emulsion paint on sale, which have been stashed until I decide what to use them for, no doubt they will appear soon in a post….  (and if you don’t want to read through the procrastination and details, scroll down to the bottom of the post for the before and after photos.)

This is what the colour look likes… wow, it’s dark…

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Photo: Brinjal by F&B photo from Farrow and Ball Decorating with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw

The Existing Room

The Master bedroom is already shades of Khaki, (this paint is called Drab), with aubergine accents, but it has been like that for quite a while, so I thought I would use the paint to overhaul the room.  The ceilings are really tall, and the expanse of white from the picture rail upwards to the ceiling sort of annoys me, as the rest of the colours get lost in the room as the eye automatically goes up to the brightness and it is so WHITE.  I love aubergine, so decided to paint out the khaki walls with the new paint, but to leave the wardrobes as they are.  So I am sort of reversing the colour scheme.  I am happy with where the furniture is and accessories, so it is just a case of the walls and woodwork being changed. Continue reading

Junk shop mirror makeover

another bargain find

Whilst buying the sideboard for a makeover, I found this mirror at the back of the same shop. For bargain price of £10 I snapped it up.  I had been hunting for one for my guest room that I recently did a makeover on.

It is dark, badly varnished and very large.  But the frame within a frame and shape is interesting, and it has carved details as well.  Hmmm… potential I thought.  And for £10 It would be rude not to…

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Large and with a good shaped frame

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Carved roses joining the two frames

I had been looking for a large mirror for the Guest room makeover I did recently, and this looked like it could really work.  I had spotted a couple in OKA with insert frames that I loved on a recent visit, but it they were so expensive that I just could not justify it….

on with the paint

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Tattoo Parlour Reveal Part Two – Tattoo Studio

IMG_1758The day has come and Rocket Queen is now open for business with Charmaigne and Danny inking creatively in the fabulous new premises. Here is the tattoo studio makeover story…

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Textured walls, uneven floors and in a mess

When we started the room was large and full of shelving with bumpy concrete walls, a rubbish ceiling, uneven floors and generally in a very sorry state.  It took ages to clear it, and a full skip load of rubbish had to be taken away.

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The floor needed a total overhaul.

The room has 3 windows, all with security bars which need to stay as part of the lease, which then led to ‘Inspiration No 1’-  a prison cell.

This room has to be highly functional, and also very sterile for Health & Safety standards.  Bearing this in mind, we decided to go for non-porous surfaces which are easily cleanable.   I kept thinking about the film ‘Dead Ringer’s with Jeremy Irons in his operating room, so took the tiles idea as ‘Inspiration No 2′ – an operating theatre.

I did want to bring in an abbatoir feel as ‘Inspiration No 3’, and use chains from the ceiling to hand screens from, but was rightly persuaded that it might scare off the clients!

We tiled all around the room with metro tiles and used black grout to make them stand out.  A new ceiling and plasterboard was added to make the rest of the surfaces smooth and hygenic:

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A huge amount of tiling was needed

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Ceiling before replacement and the inspirational iron bars!

The new upper walls were painted in dark charcoal grey paint, (washable but with a matt finish), and the lowered new ceiling was painted white to reflect light.  The floor is high grade linoleum for hygiene in a dark grey with a slight sparkle finish and it is non-slip.  To keep the room very clinical, we installed a stainless steel medical sink, and chose a variety of storage furniture in enamel which continued the sterile look. The white cabinets came from Ikea, and the black trolleys are actually mechanics’ garage storage systems.  The tattoo benches are adjustable so that clients can sit or lie any which way for tattoos on any part of the body.

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Dark floors and paintwork on the walls

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Medical sink

As two tattoo artists work in this room, we bought and installed two medical privacy screens in case people want a private area during their sessions.  I changed the very dull plastic white pvc panels on these for new waterproof and wipeable fabric, (aka shower curtain fabric sewn into panels, and which is as slithery as hell when you sew with it!).  We used really cool retro patterns of tattoos and tattooed people for these.

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Love this fabric!

As the room is predominantly grey, black and white we added some punches of much needed colour, with posters and original artwork by artists like Jacknife’s Chris Hopewell.

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Before & After: really pleased with the transformation…..

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After

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There are two separate treatment rooms, which have been decorated in much calmer colours; one for laser removal and the the other for reflexology and beauty treatments:

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You can see the first makeover on the reception and shop area here

Breakfast Room makeover reveal

I have spent the last two days clambering around my breakfast room with paint in hand, and turning it from a very sedate and calm green into a zinging, intense deepest blue.  It all started with some botanical prints that I spotted online at  vintage printables.

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Dramatic botanical prints free for public use

These were really intense botanical images against dark backgrounds, and I fell in love with them.  I sent them off to be scaled up into large prints for the princely sum of £27, and then framed them into the existing frames that I had for my paler versions…  here is the room before:

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It is nice, but I have lived with Farrow and Ball tasteful pale shades for too long! I chose a really intense colour for the walls, skirting and cupboard surrounds called Basalt by the Little Greene Paint Company.  It is a really dark, dark blue, like squid ink:

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Basalt, a really very dark blue tone that looks black or grey in some light

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It’s a bit dark ?!

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Coat one on walls, too late to go back now…..

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Beginning to think it might work now…

I wanted to leave the original Victorian doors, floors and cupboards in their natural state.  As one end of the room has pale painted panelling, plus the door frames and window frame, I though these would be too dark in the Basalt, so I used Lime White by Farrow and Ball for these areas to freshen it up.  The rest of the room was painted in Basalt, and woe betide me if I ever have to paint it out again with a paler colour as it is very dark indeed!

I upcycled the old picture frames with the new prints, (I had 6 printed), and first of all hung them as they had originally been.  But then I decided to make the wall more exciting as the dark background is a great foil for artwork.

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Here are final photos of the completed room:

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Storage cabinet awaiting transformation

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Repurposed window frame as a mirror

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Orchids

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Gallery wall detail

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Gallery Wall

All that is left to do now is to is to overhaul the painted wood cupboard with the lamp on top, as it looks too pale for the room.  I am thinking a zesty green or something similar would work, and I may repaint the table legs to compliment it.

Tattoo Parlour Reveal – Main Entrance and Shop Area

Finally we are at the end of the long road to finishing the main reception and shop area at Rocket Queen.  All the furniture is in, the stock is displayed and we can now turn to finishing the other studios rooms. Scroll down to the bottom for the full before and after photos, quite a change!

The new Reception area has a desk for drawing out tattoo designs and artwork which we made from an old carcass as seen here:

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Very basic desk frame in foreground

I wrapped the frame in faux leather, and then applied ribbon to hide the staples to the sides.  We then applied the initials of the business in aged brass studs: IMG_1370 IMG_1374To each side of the desk are display cabinets which show some items for sale of natural skulls, metal ones and metal stag heads.

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Looking across the room is the main seating area. The colours are meant to be pinging and vibrant, and the more they clash the better.  The large mirror can be used for clients to inspect their latest body art, and it also helps bounces light back around the room.

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Behind the sofa is a collection of old pinball machine parts hung on the wall to create a great, bright  and colourful display.  The coffee table is also made from a pinball machine top, with new legs added to make it horizontal as they are usually set on a slope.  The end section will be used to hold magazines.

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Over in the shop section we have used glass and metal shelving and a vintage shop fitting display cabinet to display the stock.

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The items we are selling in the shop range from taxidermy to oddities to antiques.  This is a bit of a home-made passion, and we are learning some taxidermy techniques as we go…

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Before and after:

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I will post the main tattoo studio room reveal very shortly….

Curio Cabinet Makeover

I love curio cabinets.  The Victorians excelled at collecting things, (which are now non-PC or probably extinct), on their Grand Tours around the world.  My Great Great Uncle Bernard was one of these, and in the family we still have his amazing cabinets filled with butterflies and eggs that he collected voraciously.  Nothing came in small measures, he would collect 50 perfect specimens of one type of butterfly rather than just one, plus the caterpillar of the insect as well.  The smell when the cabinet is opened is overwhelming of camphor still, and when I was a little girl I would spend hours inhaling the smell and coveting the butterflies.  I have quite a few little odd bits such as fossils, animals and coins, and wanted to group them in some sort of display case together, following the Victorian cabinets which are so inspiring:

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My last post talked about buying at auction, and one of the items I purchased was a very cheap little oak wall storage box from, I think, an old power station/railway box.  It is made of oak, and has the original sticker in the box.  As it is plain oak, I decided to paint the exterior in a distressed grey/green effect using chalk paints.  I left the interior oak as I wanted the items to stand out.

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Once it was dry, I hung it on the wall and popped in my little items; a skull, a pickled lizard, vintage smelling salts, fossils, coins and my grandfather’s lead toy soldiers.  Here is the finished cabinet:

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Fireplace Makeover – Slate paint effect

Musings occured over the weekend over how to attack the reproduction pine fireplace surround in our dining room, see last week’s post, and I finally stopped procrastinating today and got on with the job.

I used chalk paint as it is really easy to manipulate when watered down in a dark grey and a white, and by wetting it with a damp brush you can work the colour and tones until you are happy with the results, plus I use a clear wax to finish and protect the surface.  Here is the before and after picture:

Slide1The process is really simple, and you can always go back and paint over bits if you are not happy with them.  The gallery here shows you how to paint this slate effect.

  • You will need dark grey chalk paint, white paint, brushes, water and finishing wax.
  • I keyed my mantlepiece top before painting as this will be a heavily used area.
  • Paint the whole mantlepiece in a dark grey.
  • While this dried I had time for a very nice Cappuccino, delicious!
  • I then used a plate as a palette, and put some white and grey either side.  I then dropped water in the centre, and started to work on the mantlepiece using a brush and dabbing/splodging grey, white and water to create a cloudy effect on top of the base coat.  This paint can dry out really quickly on the plate, so keep adding water to keep it liquid.  It should look like mottled, cloudy grey tones, and work the paint in well to avoid brush marks.
  • You can also use a sponge if you want to dab on the paint, again as it dries so fast use small circular movements to blend and hide the initial sponge marks.
  • Cover all areas in this cloudy effect and leave to dry.  It will look quite pale and dusty when it is dry, but do not worry as adding the wax at the end darkens it back down.  Check you have covered all areas, and if you need to touch up do it now.  Leave for an hour or so so the paint really is dry for the next stage.
  • Finally using a brush or old cloth, work clear wax into all areas you have painted.  Brushes are good for getting the wax into nooks and crannies, and I prefer a cloth for large flat areas..  Leave to harden off for 20 minutes, and then buff to a smooth sheen.  I used two coats on the top of the mantlepiece for added protection.

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I am really pleased with the results which are much punchier to the eye, and wonder why I did not do it earlier.  I was not sure about the all gold mirror above when it was finished, so slapped some black acrylic paint on parts of it to bring it into line with the slate look fireplace.  Much better….

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