Art Options for High Walls

Dear GAIL: We have a large wall that is about 20 feet long by 8 feet high which is actually the second story of our home and overhangs the hallway downstairs. You walk underneath it when coming from the family room to the entry and then see it as you walk up the stairs and also from the front door. We were thinking of mirroring the wall, but are really just completely stumped on what to do on it. Dean L.

DEAR DEAN: If I understand you correctly, the wall that you’re stumped on is the outside wall of one of your rooms on your second floor, so when you are walking underneath it, you are actually walking under the floor of this room. Then when you are walking up the stairs, the wall goes from the roof line of your house and down the 8 feet which is the wall height of the room and 20 feet long, which would be the length of the room. So I’m going to make this assumption, plus that you see the wall from the entry door and then as you are walking up the staircase.

First, since you mentioned that you walk underneath this area, I would not want to place anything that is too heavy in visual weight on the wall as it would give an uneasy feel to walk underneath it. With artwork you always want to be able to ground the artwork to the floor with either a piece of furniture, a grouping of plants or floor accessory so that it doesn’t appear to be floating on the wall. So since we are not able to do this, if you placed anything that was visually heavy in weight on the wall, such as a large framed piece of artwork, it would give an uneasy feeling and make some people wonder what would happen if it came crashing down. Whenever we are in a situation with something hanging over our head, we wonder what would happen if it fell down as we were passing by and know it would not be a good thing.

Mirroring the wall would not be something that I would consider for a couple reasons. First, the weight of the mirrors on the wall, mirrors have a very heavy visual weight. Second, what will you be reflecting? Mirrors have a functional value first and then decorative. You always want to consider what a mirror is reflecting as that then is the image you are framing. Since the wall is up so high, I’d have to assume that what you’d be reflecting is another wall or high windows. So if you needed light in the stairway, windows would bring in the reflective light from the mirror, but I’m sure you have lighting going up the stairs to turn on. Then if there is mainly walls, what do you have on them and also do you see the reflective images from downstairs in the entry way? So again, what would you be reflecting and is it an attractive image?

One item you could hang that is attractive and also visually lighter in weight than a framed image is a tapestry. Tapestries come in all sizes, colors and themes. You could hang a larger horizontal one and then place a wall pocket on each side of it filled with airy ivy greens. Place the tapestry on a decorative drapery rod and accent with a pair of wonderful tassels on each end. Even though the greens will be hanging down on the wall, they have a light visual weight and will help soften the wall along with adding some color, texture and dimension to the wall without adding weight.

If you don’t find a larger tapestry, you can also hang three vertical tapestries or one smaller horizontal with a pair of vertical tapestries. Hang the horizontal in the middle of the pair of vertical ones. Hang each one on separate rods. Then for accent, place tassels on each side of the horizontal tapestry connected by cording, so that the cording is swaging on the rod. Then on the side tapestries, place the tassels asymmetrically with the tassel next to the center tapestry at the same height and then place the tassel on the outside of the end tapestries at a longer length. You may be able to find chair tie tassels to use, but depending upon the spread, or length that you need for the cording to go across your rods, you can also make your own with single tassels and coordinating cording that you can attach to the top of the tassel by either sewing or gluing in.

Other light weight options are canvas or how about having a wonderful mural painted on the wall. You can have an image of a large window with open shutters on the walls and then a wonderful and colorful view out the faux window.   If you don’t want something as permanent as a mural, you can have the mural painted on canvas and then have the canvas mounted to the wall and frame it with simple molding painted the color of your walls so that it will just disappear.

Don’t be afraid to decorate this wall, just be careful on your choice to make sure that it is lighter in weight and also large enough to see from the entry below.



By Gail Mayhugh of GMJ Interiors

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