This Type of Artwork is What Your Living Room Gallery Wall is Missing

published Jan 17, 2020
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Credit: Lululemon

Seascapes are popping up all over gallery walls lately, and trust us, you won’t want to miss the boat on this trend (heh). Whether you’re already a nautical style fan or just appreciate an eye-catching mix of cool blues and greens, you’ll want to hop on board and add a coastal cool piece to your gallery wall after seeing the gorgeous setups below.

When it comes to styling, the options are truly endless. Ship paintings look just as lovely solo as they do inserted into a gallery wall or grouped together, as seen in the above library at Lululemon’s HUB Seventeen co-working space, which was designed by the brand in collaboration with Random House and Molly Hartman from Rye Workshop. This room really got us to thinking: Yes, seascapes can work in any setting—urban, coastal, whatever. Whether your decor leans more modern or traditional, you can make a nautical piece fit in your home—in fact, it just might be what’s missing in your gallery wall! Here’s how to work a seascape into your space.

Though this kind of artwork may seem most appropriate for a home by the sea, skillful styling goes along way in making a piece feel at home in your house. Knowing what to shop for in a painting also helps. First things first, look for something vintage at a flea market or secondhand store.

“I adore ship paintings that are worn and tattered, especially when they are hung in groupings without the frames,” says Emily Schoen, who has worked with The Maryn. To keep old artwork from dating your space, mix it in with clean, more streamlined furnishings. “Paired with a modern piece of furniture like a Saarinen table, these paintings can add vintage soul while still feeling clean and fresh,” says Schoen, whose former living space is pictured above.

In a non-costal setting, best to stick to just a couple of seascapes and maybe not let them dominate an entire gallery wall, similar to what’s going on on this home’s mantel. Though you could make the argument that spaces far away from the sea need an artistic dose of “nature” most.

Credit: Minette Hand

Or, as Schoen suggests, you could hang one great ship painting on a blank stretch of wall and set it off with a picture light above it. An oversized single seascape is also a great anchor for a sofa or above a bed, as seen in this New York art historian’s apartment above. Come to think of it, seascapes are amazing for bedrooms because their colors are so calming. That said, you can find something that’s washed out with whites if blues and greens feel too strong for your space.

If you really want to go all in on maritime style, then don’t worry about getting repetitive. Different styles of ship paintings look beautiful when hung together, as seen in the 1870s Victorian home shown here. The more, the merrier! To make the arrangement feel more organic and varied, be sure to use a mix of frame sizes, finishes, and materials. If you can, consider leave a piece or two unframed, as Schoen suggested above. That will add visual diversity, too.

Credit: Memo Faraj

And if your ship painting collection gets, well, gigantic? You can certainly embrace the theme all throughout your home, just as designer Memo Faraj of Monsieur Habitat has done in his 205-year-old Delaware home. If there’s a way to lean into nautical style without it becoming kitschy, Faraj has found it. Maybe that’s partially because the paintings have special significance. “Marine biology and oceanography were passions of mine growing up, and in turn, I was infatuated with the sea and everything related,” he says. “Bring able to bring that to life in my space was really exciting.”

Credit: Memo Faraj

Faraj has built his collection of paintings over time—he has a ship painting in almost each of his spaces, including the laundry room! He’s always on the hunt for new additions. “I found a beautiful old ship painting from the late 1700s on eBay and then was hooked,” says Faraj. Next came a set of three 1940s folk art ship paintings, all from the same artist, that started the gallery wall along his staircase. For Faraj, each piece is almost like its own porthole. “The concept of having a wall of windows looking out onto the sea, highlighting a fleet of ships, was the basis of my ship gallery wall, both along my staircase and in my den,” he says.

Credit: Memo Faraj

Looking to build a painting collection of your own? Etsy, eBay, and Chairish are all excellent resources for nautical artwork, and there’s even a very unique, almost abstract seascape currently for sale on Apartment Therapy’s Bazaar. You’re bound to find a piece that speaks to you and sparks decorating inspiration. Now you just need a spot to hang it!