I have what some might call a restless spirit. This means that at best, I have a tendency toward impatience and at worst, my inner child is constantly vacillating between anxiety attacks and temper tantrums. A big word on my mind lately has been “NEXT”- yes, complete with the frantic caps lock. So when you’re absolutely certain that you were ready for the next phase of your life, like, five minutes ago but the universe keeps replying with, “nah, fam, chill,” what’s a restless soul to do? Most likely lose sleep but also try to make my present circumstances a little prettier- both metaphorically and literally.
In what I thought was responsibility and not recklessly blind optimism, I sold my couch before securing the final details of my move. You know, the move that I recently found out would not be happening. The move that now left my living room empty and ripe for a pole practice area. It’s seriously such a perfect spot for my pole and hell, I’m a single woman in my mid-twenties. How many more opportunities am I going to get for my own personal pole studio? Hopefully many more but this wasn’t something I was going to let pass me by just in case. As far as blessings in disguise go, I honestly don’t regret the absence of that mammoth couch but instead, I cringe at the subsequent state I let my living room fall into sans sofa. My “half-packed and extremely lazy” decor aesthetic wasn’t exactly pleasant, personal, or welcoming to the outside world.
I’ll fill in the blank for you: yikes. I know. After some good old-fashioned Pinterest hunting, I rediscovered the idea of a gallery wall, falling right back in love with the eclectic and highly-personal concept. I promptly began digging out dusty and forgotten posters, pictures, and frames from my bedroom, the recesses of my closet, unpacked boxes from years ago- nothing and nowhere was safe. The final product came together for something not just pleasing to the eye but the spirit. Before you rightfully gag at my oozing sentimentality, almost every piece I chose holds a story and it honestly warms me to see this mosaic of my life displayed. Alright, I’ll stop waxing poetic about a DIY home decor project and pass along my process already.
DIY GALLERY WALL
– A wall to hang things on
– A variety of things to hang on said wall
– Hammer (or preferred tool)
– Nails (or preferred hardware)
– Colored pencil or something else to mark
– Adhesive wall strips
- Begin as I did by gathering anything you already own and would like to include, even if it seems out of place. If you’re so inclined, try to find a common theme, whether in meaning, content, shape, or color. I let my objects be pretty random but hey, you do you. Here’s what I did look for: varying sizes, some sort of emotional meaning and/or visual appeal, framed, cohesive with a muted color palette.
Some of the objects I ended up unearthing and falling in love with all over again: a Rolling Stone tribute to queen Amy Winehouse, the meaning of my name framed and in my possession since birth, Polaroids of Kentucky sunsets that I took when I was about 19, embroidery done by my mother in her youth, pictures of me as a child with my father, a silhouette portrait of my mom from 1979, the Serenity Prayer from a 1973 recovery newsletter found in my late/sober grandmother’s belongings, a limited Cricket Press print from Kentucky by Kentucky bought at the Woodland Art Fair, one of my favorite pictures of a celebrity: Marilyn Monroe deeply absorbed in a book (reminding us all women don’t have to choose between being smart and beautiful.)
- Randomness aside, I did draw a lot of inspiration from fellow bloggers and Pinterest images. My favorite ones utilized not only pictures but some unique decorative objects to break up frames on frames on frames. On that note, I bought the porcelain antlers from Target for $19.99 and the IKEA Bekvam Spice Racks (two for $15.74) from Amazon for a little visual variety. I also got a frame for this crazy map I’d bought in Iceland last year. Had that particular print been a more conventional size, I’d have hit the thrift store. While all matching frames will look clean and cohesive, mixing frames can definitely add an air of delightful chaos and character.
- Although planning isn’t always my strong suit, laying everything out on the carpet in front of my wall helped me to jigsaw my way to a general flow that I enjoyed.Many bloggers went so far as to create frame outlines with butcher paper to arrange on the wall before incurring any hammer-n-nail damage. This route is best for those of you with patience and/or concern for the integrity of your property value. I, however, do not qualify for either of categories so this was the extent of my pre-planning phase. While my final design differed from the one shown, it did allow me to identify focus pieces, opportunities for mirroring similar pieces on each side, and what any surprisingly cohesive or clashing pieces. There are a ton of ideas online for more structured arrangements, if that’s your bag.
- I attached almost everything with simply a hammer and nails after marking with a colored pencil. This was guesswork but turned out (mostly) perfect. Again, if you’re worried, do this phase with paper cutouts of your objects.
For any pieces that either weren’t able to be hung or were determined to not lay flat, I used Command Damage-Free Hanging adhesive strips. They worked like a charm, even helping bolster the back of my little shelves. If you’re concerned with damage to your walls, this could possibly be your sole method of attachment. Writing this, I wonder if perhaps that would have been wiser in my case… oh well, too late now!
- While it was fun and just the littlest bit thrilling to be more organic with this process, I did identify my map from Iceland to be a solid “center” piece.
I say “center” because I knew everything would going outward and upward from this piece, even though it wouldn’t be in the dead middle of the arrangement. I found it helpful for this to not be either a focus or filler piece, simply a neutral one to tie the rest together.
- When arranging everything, I tried to create a sense (but not exact science) of symmetry. If I hung a smaller picture on one side, I tried to hang one of a similar size on the other side. And on and on. I think in the world of art- and recovery, for that matter- they call this mystical concept balance.
This helped to ensure that there was a variance of size throughout the wall. I’m also glad that I unconsciously left a bit of space for other objects and pictures; hopefully this won’t lead me to getting completely carried away and covering the entire wall. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Someone keep me away from my family’s attics and the local thrift store. Also be sure to take occasional breaks to 1. view your wall from afar/different angles and to 2. lay on your carpet, pondering the mysteries of the universe while listening to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” on repeat (my productivity anthem inside and outside my workplace.)
And there you have it, an inexpensive and personal DIY homage to the strange and wonderful stories that make up your amazing life. I’m going to post a subsequent post with various tips for apartment decor but this particular phase really struck me. Not only is it quintessentially Leahleahzyfbabyleahstormbornleahwinehousethegreatsmacksbyworkhardstayhumbleco but it bridges that awkward gap from the antique foyer table to my mini dining area. Design that is emotional, beautiful, and intelligent- a stellar combination I strive for in most aspects of life (though the resulting success is debatable.)
What are some unique family pieces you have displayed in your home? Between the shown wall damage and Apollo’s gleeful destruction of the carpet, will I get anything back from this apartment deposit? How do you make your present circumstances a little prettier to withstand the meantime before Big Change? If you have any questions, whether they are DIY-related or not, please write me in the comments below or contact me on my various social media outlets. Also, if you have anything you’d like to see in a future video or post, just let me know. I love hearing from y’all!
Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.
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