Decorating Ideas: Taking On Blank Walls

Everybody loves great eye candy and excellent free advice—which is undoubtedly why the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye just published a story that has both: “How to decorate a blank wall.” And we were thrilled to be one of three firms they quoted in the story.

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The highly saturated glossy paint in this entry, designed by the JLI team, creates a bold first impression.

Given our collective 99 years in luxury interior design, our team has dreamed up dozens of innovative ways of decorating blank walls—from turning them into libraries or galleries to covering them with game-changing, saturated wall treatments or paint. But RedEye is geared to Millennials who are presumably a little more budget challenged than our usual luxury clients. So we asked Jennifer Durand, a talented Millennial team member, to dream up creative options for decorating blank walls that could be scaled to many budgets and aesthetics.

South Loop Residence Living Room Detail

In a South Loop condo, designed by the JLI team, a bold, graphic textile in a sleek frame commands center stage on a bare wall.

Jennifer did us proud, leading off the article thanks to her smart observation that “the first order of business is figuring out the purpose of the room.” This accounts for the reality that we all have different types of homes—be it a one-room studio, a funky loft or a traditional apartment or house with secluded bedrooms. And blank walls are valuable assets that need to be maximized in every decorating endeavor.

Red Eye Emily Henderson

A gallery wall adds a huge dose of decorative weight to a utilitarian console-cum-media center. From RedEye, compliments of Emily Henderson.

To get the most out of decorating blank walls, Jennifer pointed out that how you use them to define or improve a living space would play out in different ways in different rooms. In a living area, you can turn a little sliver of blank space into a chic setting by putting a console against the wall and topping it with a gallery. But in a sleeping space, it’s possible to blend form and function on a bare wall above a big bed with a large-scale fixture that sheds light and adds artistry to the setting at the same time.

Redeye Elle Decor

In a sleeping space, a David Weeks light fixture mounted on wall becomes a light source and visual focal point. From RedEye, compliments of Elle Décor.

When using galleries to enhance blank walls, Jennifer also advises to follow a few ground rules:

  • For a clean look, use a strict grid pattern with pieces that are all the same size and framed identically. The effect can be modern or traditional, depending on the images, which can range from simple graphics to sumptuous botanicals.
  • For a more eclectic or collected effect, opt for a mix of frames that vary by size, color, finish and texture to make a strong design statement.
  • To hang a gallery wall, first lay out everything on the floor, adjust as necessary and make sure you center the bulk of the installation at eye level.
Red Eye Justine Hugh Jones

Images are all the same size and orientation, and framed identically, in this wall gallery. From RedEye, compliments of Justine Huge-Jones.

Some more easy and effective ideas Jennifer shared with RedEye:

  • Go all out with oversized art to draw attention to a wall;
  • Try an oversized mirror (either leaning or mounted), especially in a small area since it amplifies space and light; and
  • Use wall decals, which make a big decorative splash but won’t damage existing surface treatments and come in many options.
Red Eye Etsy Decal

Wall decals (from Etsy vendor Wall Dressed Up) and attractive blank frames make a perfect pairing to give this blank wall character and depth. From RedEye, compliments of Etsy’s WallDressedUp.

24 Apr 2015

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