I used to think it takes specialized talent to create an attractive wall grouping—or any grouping at all. In my memory, some of my parents’ friends’ homes were extremely formal and well-decorated, although reviewing those memories now, maybe the homes were over-decorated. Their walls were covered with paintings, photographs and overloaded shelves. In some homes, barely any walls showed through their staircases or in their living rooms. I thought this must be true elegance, and I thought only their interior decorators knew how to create such massive combinations that people referred to as “groupings.” As an adult, I have furnished two homes and two apartments, and I actually value displaying art in a manner that allows for the walls to show. Now, if I enter a home with walls totally covered in art, I think, “How can I declutter this wall?”
If you take yourself very seriously, then decorating walls could be a heavy responsibility. You may think, “What if it doesn’t look as nice as I am expecting?” or “What if I can’t find art or frames I really like? Will I have to live with blank walls?” We all must start somewhere. While some clients may be ready to buy even a drab print just to put something on a wall, it is worth waiting for the “right” items. Be comforted in knowing discovery may happen slowly, but, if you keep your eyes open, you will eventually find what you like.
In my beginning stages of adulting, I shared an apartment with one roommate, and nothing either of us had was new. My art was a collection of small, even tiny, wall hangings, each one having nothing to do with another, and a beautiful landscape painting that my sister brought me from Arizona. That landscape was my first grown-up piece of art and I really valued having it. With age comes wisdom and, sometimes, more opportunities to decorate. Now I try to have fun while I decorate and urge my clients to have fun as well.
I admire and respect interior decorators. Through listening to their clients, they guide them to find items that create cohesive “looks.” In short, decorators will really pull a room together. For those of us who have not yet used the services of an interior decorator, I have enlisted the assistance of Ahuva Morris of Ahuva Morris Interiors to clarify what to keep in mind when decorating walls.
“While interior decorating embodies the declaration ‘It’s an art, not a science,’ there are some tried and true tips to enhance your home. When a client asks about how to best place art or pictures on a wall, I generally believe less is more. The art or pictures should be a centerpiece for your wall. That doesn’t mean it needs to be solo. A group of pictures, perhaps a large one in the center with smaller, complementary ones surrounding it, could equally ‘pop.’ I help clients figure out balance so that when they enter a room, their eye is drawn to the art and not lost by too much covering the walls.” You can follow Ahuva on Instagram at ahuvamorrisinteriors. If you are interested in hiring a decorator, Ahuva may be reached at [email protected] or 908-227-3155.
Recently I began watching video blogger and influencer Christine aka “Frugal Fit Mom,” a fitness coach and a “budget coach.” Her website, frugalfitmom.net, says she is “passionate about health, nutrition, fitness and being frugal.” She aims to help people save money in any way, shape or form. In one of Christine’s videos, she named many items she refuses to buy in order to save money. She said you will not see anything on the walls of her home. In Christine’s eyes, bare walls have three benefits: She does not have to dust picture frames, she does not have to spend money on art and—the reason that caught my attention—she does not have to decide what to hang. Hanging nothing is her decorating decision. Still, when I watch Christine cooking in her large, attractive kitchen or standing in her upstairs hall speaking to her audience, I look at the bare walls and think, “With the right wall hangings, she could really pull her look together and show off her personality.” Then I think that she doesn’t need her walls to have personality, because it exudes from her.
The pictures we choose to put on our walls should resonate with us. Sometimes pictures on our walls are the result of necessity. Recently one of my beloved clients downsized and moved into a lovely apartment, bringing with her a box or two of art waiting to be chosen for any of several possible groupings. A narrow wall by her kitchen had an unexplained hole. It did not make sense to replaster and repaper. My client wanted to hang something over the hole and suggested a colorful tile from Israel that was too little to stand alone, even on a slim wall. I sensed this idea would work so much better if we created a grouping. Keeping that in mind, my client did some shopping here and there, and found various pieces that struck her fancy.
The day came when we both stood in front of the small wall and asked ourselves, “What are we going to do here?” I suggested we have some fun trying out different combinations. “For now,” I told her, “there is no right or wrong. We are keeping an open mind.” Together, we came up with a grouping that we love and successfully hid the hole in the wall. My client summed it up: “We were open to being creative, we were flexible and we were not afraid to try.”
This client’s new home has plenty of wall space and we wanted to create a grouping in her entryway using paintings she had bought in Israel. We sprang into action. Off we went to the store with high expectations. Here’s some advice when you have pictures framed at a store that may hire people with no previous experience framing pictures: Do not leave the store with your newly framed art before making sure the metal wire behind each picture has been strung competently.
Remember, you can take the initiative to decide what to hang and where to hang it, or you can hire a decorator who will help you display your art to enhance your home. For ideas, you can look online and consult magazines, books and decorating journals. If you feel you made a wrong choice, by no means should you feel the walls are ruined. Keep smiling and remember my beloved client who used a tile to cover a hole in the wall and how much she loves what grew from there.
Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected].