I'm finally sitting down to write about my dining room's landscape wall. It's kinda nice to talk about it now that I've lived with it a while. It's more like writing about a friend than a house guest. A friend you crowd against the wall and stare at while eating dinner. You know, that friend.
My journey with vintage landscapes
I've been drawn to vintage landscapes for a few years now–they are so peaceful. The great outdoors make me feel calm and adventurous and small and brave, and so it follows that paintings of it give me a hint of that feeling. I think there is something really special too about people choosing to paint these scenes; it's humankind trying to capture a moment of the enormity of nature. It's a translation in oils (or needlepoint, as one of my landscapes is), and I feel connected to the consideration an artist must have taken to create a piece like this.
So all that overthinking aside, I like looking at landscapes, and, duh, I love vintage landscapes a lot because I love vintage things. I got my first one at the Tulsa Flea Market, and it sits on the shelf across from my bed.
Very similar to the moment I realized I wanted to marry my ginger-haired husband, I stared at that one landscape until I knew I wanted to see more of it, forever. I threw out the idea of piling them on a wall in our bedroom, and then I moved that idea to my dining room.
How I develop home design ideas
This room has always been dark. It is the furthest from windows. We painted it yellow when we first moved into our home almost a decade ago. Then we painted it white because in the midst of parenting and my husband starting his own business, we desperately needed simplicity. This is a broken record action in my life–oversimplifying. It always gives me breathing room to ponder what I really want out of a space.
We often talk to clients about sight-lines. What do you see from where you most often sit? From the door you enter your home? From that path you always walk from your bedroom to your kitchen? Making beautiful views is a nice thing to do for yourself. My perch on our sofa gives me a view of the east wall in our dining room...the wall fated for this landscape gallery wall.
I don't want to brag, but now that I have this wall of vintage landscape paintings, I can easily shift my eyes back and forth between the over-stimulating and anxiety provoking television to my calming and inspiring wall of art. Balance. Life is all about it, people.
How to do a very full gallery wall
First, I got Ryan and Ashley Palmer, my life spouse and my work spouse, on board. Then we all kept our peepers open and brought in paintings from all directions–flea markets, antique malls, thrift stores, estate sales, vintage shops...everywhere. Ash and I took a picking trip to Springfield, Missouri last spring, and we found a lot there. I just gathered and gathered.
My general rule was mountains and lake scenes with blues, purples, and moss greens. Wood frames. I needed to really really like the paintings too. Just because there are a lot of them, doesn't mean a subpar painting could hide among them. The point is to have an entire wall, squished full of paintings that bowl me over with joy and pleasure. A cohesive wall of calm and beauty.
Once I thought we had enough, we started hanging them. My husband is more persnickety about how things are hung, so I let him take that role, and I directed. Pro Tip: whoever cares the most about how something is done, that is the person who should do it. Cede control in support of peace when it comes to home projects.
We got out the hammer, nails, level, measuring tape, pencil, and step ladder. And we just started by hanging a big landscape in the corner and worked our way in and down. I think you could take other approaches for sure, but this was ours. We did need to take some down and rearrange, but it was a pretty smooth process. (You can see a time-lapse of the process below.)
One of my favorite things is that I had one, small, long hole left, and when I went up to the shop the next day (this really happened!), there was a small, long landscape watercolor sitting on our work table with a note from Ashley Palmer, "Do you need this?" Yes.
Guys, she's a soulmate.
That's the story. I love looking at it. It feels like vintage landscape wallpaper, it feels like the Louvre, it tells the story of vintage shopping (finding things everywhere), it embraces the moody nature of this darker room, it hugs my liquor–it's lovely.