9 Things to Hang on a Wall Besides a Painting

BY NANCY MATTIA ON JANUARY 12TH, 2017

January is a month of reinvention, and for homeowners looking to spruce up without painting or moving furniture, look to the walls as a decorative solution. For many, the first inclination may be to hang artwork purchased at local home store. While that will always be a smart, affordable option, there are other wall-worthy choices. Since walls are like a blank canvas, decorators can use them as a base to show off everything from a vintage purse collection to personalized initials displayed in giant letters. Here are nine opportunities to revamp the walls in your home:

1. Mirrors

If you want to add shine and light, install a mirror. They work best in entry halls and bedrooms over a chest, says Sharon Flatley, owner of Sharon Flatley Design in Dallas. Hang a large-scale mirror in a powder room and small mirrors in groupings along a hallway. “I once hung a very interesting mirror over a chest in a small bedroom,” she says. “It was really too high to see yourself but it reflected back light and made the room seem sunny and happier.”

Never hang a mirror in a dining room where seated guests can see themselves. “It kills conversation,” Flatley says. “You are so busy watching yourself that you may forget to interact with others!”

2. Clocks

In the age of digital, a collection of wind-up clocks adds nostalgic fun to a room. “A grouping of clocks would work in a library or study as long as you don’t need absolute peace to work in,” Flatley says. Since the constant ticking of multiple clocks could drive others crazy as well, avoid hanging near a guest bedroom.

3. Vintage collections

Wondering what to do with the jewelry you inherited that, though it’s not your style, is too special to keep tucked away in a drawer? Show it off on a wall. Other vintage objects that make stunning visual displays: purses or hats hung on a bedroom wall or in entry hall (secure hats to a hat rack if you don’t want guests trying them on).

4. Maps

If you want a geographical touch to your setting, hang a few maps. To create a cohesive look, they should be of similar sizes and in matching frames. For a study, Flatley advises using very large maps and covering three walls: one of a state, one of the U.S. and one of the world. “It would be fun to sit and talk about where you have traveled, where you intend to travel and where you might fantasize about going,” she says.

5. Oversize letters

Get personal and install giant letters that represent your initials or go with something more whimsical like “XO” or “HOME.” They’ll create a fun vibe in an informal dining area, den or even the living room. For extra impact, use letters that light up.

6. Quotes

Another way to make your wall letter-perfect: Accent it with a witty or inspirational saying. “This can be a very sophisticated way to add a little charm and interest to a wall just below a ceiling in the room,” Flatley says. Take it to the next level and start writing the saying on one wall and continuing it on the other three, so it wraps around the entire room, or frame separate words in identical frames to create a saying.

7. Shadow boxes

These clear plastic receptacles can hold anything from antique toys to historical documents. “There is no end to the way to display or group shadow boxes,” Flatley says. “If you have a collection that is too large for one shadow box, use two or three in the same size and same frame material to give continuity to the grouping.”

8. Decorative plates

Choose the right plates sizes to ensure neither the scale nor the proportion overpowers the wall. Flatley suggests limiting the grouping to five or so, which won’t cover an entire wall, but still creates visual appeal.

9. Fabric

If you think fabric is only for sofas and chairs, think again – it makes gorgeous wall art. All you need to do is wrap a pretty piece of patterned material around a canvas, staple it, add a frame and voilà—instant art.

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