Before and After: A Ceiling-Height Gallery Wall Makes a Maximalist Statement in This Cozy Living Room Redo

published Oct 26, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: and empty room with a blue rug

If you’re on a house hunt and touring a house or apartment, you might know you’ve found “the one” when you can envision how you’d lay out your furniture and how you’d arrange decor.

That’s how Paula Truscott and Martin Loortis (@mismatchedhome) felt when they first toured their home, especially in the living room. “The huge blank canvas of a wall was a major selling point for us when buying the house because we really wanted to create an epic gallery wall,” Paula says.

They also really liked the jarrah floors and the alcove in the center, where they knew they wanted to place their TV. “This was the first space we tackled when we moved in,” Paula says. “Before we moved in, we had it all planned out.”

The first thing they addressed in the room was the alcove because they wanted to create a visual anchor within the room but also disguise their entertainment setup so there was no visible cord clutter. “We wallpapered the recessed part of the wall with black damask wallpaper so we could ‘hide’ our TV,” Paula explains.

“When the TV is off, it’s not an eyesore at all; it just blends in to the black wall. Stroke of genius!” (Paula and Martin’s wallpaper is from Wallpaper Direct.) The couple also put two black media cabinets there, similarly disguised, that don’t take up too much visible space.

The reason Paula and Martin wanted to keep things on the TV wall fairly simple is so that they could create what Paula calls the “epic gallery wall” on the neighboring wall. It took a few days to hang, Paula recalls. “It was a very tedious process but totally worth it,” she says.

Paula’s best gallery wall advice? Don’t forget to think about how the frames work with the art. “If you’re more of a minimalist, then the same color/style might be the way to go,” she writes on Instagram. “If you’re a maximalist, then forget rules.” Paula says they stuck to black, white, wood, and gold frames to give the gallery wall harmony.

Paula says that adhesive strips don’t work well for heavy frames (plus they damaged her walls), so she and Martin used nails, which ultimately took a lot more measuring. “We had a rough visual of where to hang the frames based on laying it all out on the floor, but we started to deviate from the plan and just winged it,” she says.

“Our gaps aren’t exact, but they’re fairly similar, which helps it look cohesive,” she adds on Instagram. She’s thrilled with the eclectic final look. “It really showcases who we are and what we love, along with the seven BILLY bookcases below it that we constantly redecorate,” Paula says.

In fact, their bookcases almost serve as an extension of the gallery wall down to the floor — a way to showcase 3D artwork, plates, and frames, and get some storage in, too. (A pro tip for the parents out there: Paula and Martin keep their kid’s toys on the lower shelves for easy reaching and the artwork on the upper shelves for the opposite reason.)

Paula’s advice for finding great artwork is to hunt at secondhand stores, buy affordable original works from artists, print things yourself, and frame random mementos. “It doesn’t even have to have a frame,” she writes on Instagram. “Plates, mirrors, and masks work, too!”

Paula and Martin filled in the rest of the room with furniture they already owned, and they replaced the dated light fixture with a white pendant lamp from IKEA, but their truly epic gallery wall is the star of the show and one for the inspiration books — especially during Apartment Therapy’s Art Month. It’s a great alternative to covering walls in paint to liven them up. What are some of the best art displaying ideas you’ve seen recently?

This piece is part of Art Month, where we’re sharing how to find, buy, and display art in your home, and so much more. Head on over here to see it all!