Monday, June 8, 2009

My Saturday Night Fever

Saturday, 7:30 pm
Dusk had fallen on The Kenmore Arms. The cats were gamboling in their playroom (someday to be redecorated and known as "Husband's Office"), the house was fully secured, and Piero and Luca were making ice cream sundaes and getting ready to watch a classic road trip movie starring Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters and countless others.
(Give up? "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad  World." 
Perfect for seven year-olds and everyone else too.)

I was supposed to be joining them. But I couldn't stop obsessing about the troublesome (to me) wall of my dining room. 
For the longest time now, I have been meaning to take down that painting and hang an assemblage of framed photographs on either side of the french doors. You know, something along the lines of this.

I wanted it to look artful but not necessarily perfect, because I like things a little bit "laissez-faire." And it needed to look good now, but still allow for space in case I wanted to hang more photos later. (The old "room to grow" scenario.)

In terms of subject matter, I had decided to buck the precept that one doesn't hang personal photos in dining rooms. I was indeed going to do just that because I wanted to eat in a room surrounded by books and friends and stories and laughter and past experiences. I had the books...
...now I just needed to to put up all the others.

I had spent most of the previous day buying an assortment of dark frames and printing out photos. As you can see below, I had arrived at the crucial stage.


Hammering in the first nail was intimidating, I have to admit. It was a freshly-painted wall and all I could think was, "What if I make a mistake?" 

Thank God for this tutorial I found on Apartment Therapy. It saved me. 
Basically, I just started with a "keystone" picture and then hung everything else off of it, either higher or lower. Pretty soon, I was on a roll. I decided not to worry about any extra holes in the walls as I could always bring in my painter to touch up the wall later. 

Ethel Merman was screeching away in the next room...
...but I was deep in concentration and heard nothing but the rat-a-tat of my hammer and nails. When I finally got the last photo up, I couldn't bear to take a full look at my finished work so I turned off the lights and hurried up to bed.

Sunday, 7am
When I opened my eyes the next morning, I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. If the wall looked terrible, I didn't know if I had the energy to re-do it. So I sent The Divine Italian down first. Sly boy, he refused to comment and said I should see it for myself.

So I steeled myself...and it was actually okay.
(Left side of wall)

I still need to buy some velcro dots to stick onto the undersides of the frames so they don't wobble when the doors are opened and closed (or, God forbid, we have an earthquake), but I'm pretty happy with the results.
(Right side of wall)

Here you can see the full view. I deliberately chose photos with a simple subject matter: a secret hedgerow, some prayer flags, a bowl of flower soup, an ashram sign, some faces near and dear...
...and the effect is exactly what I wanted, a slightly random compilation of images linked together by a common thread -- our lives.

42 comments:

Blue said...

Very beautiful! And there they are - all the happy moments hanging right before your eyes.

little augury said...

I agree nice to see loved ones - the assemblage looks great.doesn't it wear you out ? I have done the very same thing in my upstairs hall- turning out the lights and not looking at what I had done til morning-that is. la

kate salenfriend said...

you've likely answered this question, and I really can't figure this out without asking:
are those real books or wall paper on the opposite wall?
I've long wondered but have felt stupid asking as I'm sure everyone knows... but there you are.

The photos look divine- I love it. Thank you for the continued inspiration

pve design said...

one of my most cherished walls to admire an assemblage of snippets and photos is in ny at the paul smith store. a wall of good humor.
pve

VIP lounges in Versace to service entrances in my apron...my fabulous upstairs downstairs life, friends, and all things culinary said...

I think they look great! My walls are covered with photos in my bathrooms. I used museum wax under the photos...it keeps them from rattling AND supposedly earthquake proof...they did withstand a 5.2 without falling off the wall, so it works pretty well (not sure about a bigger quake).

royalapothic said...

Looks amazing. Just starting a new project in Sunset plaza. I think you should come help me out!

Found said...

oh, it looks perfect!

Le Meems said...

Pimp.
That wall is PIMP!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Little Augury: Yes, it wore me out -- from nerves as much as from the effort. I seriously didn't think I would have the motivation to redo it if it looked horrible in the light of day!

Kate: The books are handtinted "Genuine Fake Bookshelf" wallpaper from www.deborahbowness.com. I highly recommend her work!

PVE: Oh my God, I LOVE the photo walls at the Paul Smith store! The one here in LA is equally stunning. They're having a sale June 11th, by the way -- just got the postcard today.

VIP Lounges: I am SO getting some museum wax - thanks for the amazing tip!!

Royal Apothecary: Darling, you have enough talent in one pinky finger to do what I did (and more) with the snap of your fingers...! (But thank you...)

Simply Mel said...

You have two traits I admire in a person: patience and design talent!

The wall is beautiful! There is nothing more special than capturing and displaying memories that we hold dear to our hearts.

Lee said...

What an excellent result - a Saturday night well spent I say!

kid said...

well done! this is certainly not an easy task. there are companies of handsome MFA graduates performing this miracle everyday for quite a handsome fee...

http://www.ilevel.biz/

ps. your beautiful food posts have been a real source of inspiration! i still have a crush on a sandwich you made for lunch a week or so ago. thanks!

Clarity said...

That's touching and seems to have taken much effort. I like the fact that not all the images are standard portraits but also still lifes of life.

mary said...

Lisa, now that you are an earthquake survivor - you have to by the wax by the pound. It works under photos but also under those breakables in every room. Just becomes a CA staple.....crazy isn't it?
Love the walls

Vasudha.dilip said...

Wow....good work....I loved the idea....

A Super Dilettante said...

Beautiful! I've always loved the way a collection of photos with different sizes hanging together. I recently saw an exhibition by an incredible artist called Spencer Finch. He uses similar style of hanging in "Colors from my dream". It's just stunning.

Follow the links here:
http://www.thecommonguild.org.uk/events/spencer-finch

http://blog.massmoca.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/web_dreams_500.jpg

catbird said...

so great! MAYBE even better that actually watching Saturday Night Fever. Maybe.

hello gorgeous said...

That looks great - like a pub.

ticklishfromadistance said...

Looks great. I also love the arrangement in the spiral stair. Beautiful and inspiring.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Oh how lovely! They look just that little bit undone and yet utterly chic. Perfectly in tune with the rest of your fabulous family and home!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Hello Gorgeous: Very astute...that's the look I was going for: informal Sunday pub vibe, a room that would be as much fun to hang out in during the day as at night...regardless of whether the table is spread with homework, jigsaw puzzles or glasses of vino!

Laura: Thank you, my dear. Your comments are always so kind! xx

Prairie Girl Studio said...

very cool! a wonderful way to display your collection of memories ... sure to bring smiles every time you gaze that way ... i can see standing, drinking a cup of jo and getting lost down memory lane!

but more than that, i like how you told the story of doing it ... with the movie et al ... it made me giggle as i often slip in and out ... or maybe to pot another flower outside ... always tugged by a niggling project!

this was fun ... thanks!
prairiegirl

The Squirrel Girl said...

Oh they look great! It can be difficult to assemble an "art wall" but yours turned out terrific. Your home is so lovely and unique, I just adore it!

Kate F. said...

Perfect! I think the frames balance the book wallpaper much better than the lone painting did, and I love the "surrounded by friends and family" concept.

Style Court said...

Lisa, anyone who is a guest in your house is very lucky! You've really achieved that soulful quality and I like the graphic quality of the black frames. I adore black French doors, too.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

Pish posh...no personal pictures in the dining room!! I put pictures and things that I love in every room...why not?

When I have friends and family over..they ask about the people, places and things in my photos and we get to discuss them all.

love your wall

miss cavendish said...

I've wanted to do this on my stairwell. Do you use the same frame throughout?

Glenda said...

Well, my observation is that you should have used the entire wall and spaced them out further apart from each other, and even placed some over the door. Great starting point. Picture hanging is the hardest thing to do in my opinion.

CIao

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Miss Cavendish: I bought a variety of frame styles in 5x7 and 8x10 sizes, which gave it that imperfect feeling, I think...

Glenda: I debated for a long time about the spacing between the photos, but decided to hang them close together since I plan to fill up the wall eventually. And I want to hang some over the door, so thank you so much for adding your two cents -- I totally appreciate it!

Sesame Jones said...

your house is a gem, i honestly don't know what else can be improved, yet each time you make a change it becomes better and better! you truly have a calling as an interior designer.

a quick question regarding your timorous beasties wallpaper - i want to replicate the look in our downstairs rec room. is yours an superwide or a regular one? it's black on ivory, right? i hope you don't mind me copying... thanks for the inspiration!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Sesame Jones: Re: Timorous Beasties "Thistle" wallpaper, I am positive it's not the wide, because that's more for commercial applications, correct? And I used the "Black on Khaki", which has a lovely tarnished gold background. I would probably not choose the white for your rec room (if you have kids) because although stunning, it's not coated and therefore needs to be treated carefully. Any scuffs, water marks, etc. will be there forever because the wallpaper is definitely on the delicate side! But, having said that, we've had ours a year and it's still perfect. You can order a sample from Walnut Wallpaper (www.walnutwallpaper.com) to check it out before you buy it (I did). Good luck!

RP30 said...

Where did you get your chandelier from? I had always wanted something like it but could never find one. Well, I did find something close to it (restoration hardware) but not as nice as yours.

You have a wonderful home.

Laura Trevey said...

What a fantastic post... So glad I just found your blog! I love the look of arranging artwork in such great compositions!

xo Laura

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

RP30: Mine is from Restoration Hardware, too, but I just checked online for you and it seems they don't carry it anymore. (I bought mine last year.) It is similar to their "Library 5 arm" though. Maybe you could just buy black patent shades separately?

Laura: Thank you so much and welcome to "A Bloomsbury Life"! I'll do my darndest to keep you coming back! :)

Sesame Jones said...

Thank you so much for the tip! You are so right: I haven't considered the practical aspect of wallpapering the walls. I do have a toddler:) Perhaps I will find a better place for it. Did you get your "library" wallpaper at walnut as well? Do you think it would wear slightly better than the beasties? It is darker... Thank you so much for sharing your home! Thank you!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Sesame Jones: The bookcase wallpaper is from www.deborahbowness.com; however, I think it's just as delicate as TB's "Thistle." But you could email Deborah and ask her if it can be treated somehow to make it extra durable. Again, it works great in a space where traffic is low. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it would be a shame to spend all the time and $ to hang the paper and then have it get marked. My foyer wallpaper, however, is genius with kids! (It's from Cole and Son.)

Deidra said...

I think it's absolutely stunning. And I agree with you...phooey on all the rules!

Tara said...

This really looks great--the same colored frames make it all stand out-lovely!

Sesame Jones said...

Thank you so much for your advice! I think I will go ahead and order at least one type of wallpaper; which one I have yet to decide. I can only hope my project will turn out half as gorgeous as yours! I'm bookmarking your blog, it is a rare internet find, and you have me hooked!

Gina said...

looks good, all of them

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