Fantastic Design In The 2019 HGTV Dream House

Fantastic Design In The 2019 HGTV Dream House

It’s full of ideas, but before we get into it, some housekeeping to give credit where credit is due.

The designer of this year’s HGTV Dream House is Brian Patrick Flynn. Brian did a great job of designing every room to be gorgeous, livable, warm and very, very inviting. The photographer of the fabulous photos in this post is Robert Peterson of Rustic White Photography unless otherwise noted.

How To Create An Easy Gallery Wall

UPDATE - After writing this post, I was inspired to dig in a little deeper. If you want the expanded version, go to the bottom of this page (or any page on the website) to get a copy of “How To Hang Your Art Like A Pro” in exchange for your email. I’ll also send you a short note every time I write another post!

Oh, I had fun with this one! Be sure to keep reading - the first two examples are very simple, but then I started using a different piece of software that kicked my examples up about 100 notches! If you would rather watch a video of this post, just scroll down to the end and you’ll see that your wish is my command.

But let’s start at the beginning. During my two hour design consultations, I’m often asked about where to hang the art that lucky people have collected over the years. This is one of those topics where a fresh set of eyes can really make a difference. I’ve got lots of ideas about how to place art and make it feel brand spanking new.

I often create a quick layout plan on digital graph paper with the measurements taken during the consult. A plan isn’t much good unless it’s pretty close to scale. Here are 2 layouts I created for a recent client:

Map out where your artwork will hang on graph paper before installing the hooks!

She had a collection of antique floral watercolors. 3 were the same size, 2 were just a little bit larger and one was larger still. The wall was 11’-6,” so I spaced them out equally, but let the largest piece have a bit more space at the end of the wall.

Try a couple of arrangements before hanging up your art.

I gave her a second option, which I liked better because I’m not big on lining everyone up in formation. I like “movement” to the arrangement, and this option gave her that.

Here’s where it gets even better.

There’s an app called Homestyler that I decided to give a whirl. While teaching myself how to use it, I focussed on showing a couple of ways to hang art on large walls.

See what you think:

This is a digital room and I’m pretending that the art sitting on the floor is your collection. It’s bits and pieces of varying styles and you’re thinking that it’s going to look like a hot mess if you hang it all together.

It’s not a hot mess at all, is it? Isn’t this app fantastic?!! Much easier to visualize than looking at shapes on graph paper. “I can’t visualize” is the most common thing clients say to interior designers, so this is a handy tool! I can even take a picture of YOUR wall and virtually hang the art up!

In this room, what I did to make all the art play together well was to put the black and white pieces together, use the large colorful piece as a focal point, placed the 3 smallest pieces in a row to visually “end” the first grouping and then let the large piece on the very end, which is a very different genre than the rest, lead your eyes to the large windows. Hmmm, if that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s okay. When I’m placing art, I’m thinking like this and it may not translate to the spoken word easily. Doesn’t matter, as long as the placement is pleasing in the end.

Here’s another gallery wall in the making:

This is an easy, cozy room with big windows looking out at a nice view. I put an accent wall in the back there and “painted” all the other walls a very soft purple/gray. To me, a touch of color warms up a room.

Now lets’ put art on the wall:

Ta-da! In this make-believe scenario, the homeowner has a collection of Americana posters, but also a partner who doesn’t want the whole room to feature that theme. I installed the Americana pieces on both sides of the door opening and used the wall before the table lamp as one section. The wall space on the other side of the table lamp features a beautiful photograph of a lake and mountain landscape. That landscape relates because it’s an example of the beauty of America (purple mountains majesty, get it?).

Then, as you turn the corner to the window wall, I placed a series of smallish mirror that matched by shape, but not by color and finish. AND when entering the space from the front door, those mirrors will reflect the wallpapered accent wall, creating more interest and texture.

I’m having SO much fun with this!

Here’s one more digital room for you:

Rooms like this one are gorgeous, but sometimes feel cold. Remember, this post isn’t about how to furnish a room—I’m just placing art. So instead of putting bookshelves or furniture in those recessed spots flanking the fireplace, I’m going to hang art. But you’ll see how the art warms things up!

Yes, I added one piece of furniture - the console table behind the sofa. I couldn’t help it. Let’s focus on the art. Right now a big trend is big art. That Gustav Klimt on the left is the star of the room, right? A large piece of art doesn’t need lots of little pieces filling up the rest of the wall. In those recessed areas flanking the fireplace, I hung a collection of black and white photographs on the right side. On the left side I put a tall vase on the floor, balanced by a vertical piece of art over it. Doesn’t it look wonderful? I’m loving the zen vibe of that wispy tree over on the right, but you could easily replace it with more art.

Ok, stepping out of the digital world now because I want to leave you with one more very easy tip that everyone can do. When the art you want to hang is feeling sort of small and lonely on the wall—or it just needs a little something, do this:

I’ve shown you this before, right here. Find a bigger frame somewhere —antique store, flea market, Goodwill, the attic, etc.. Use it as-is or jazz it up like I did with some leftover purple paint. It becomes the frame for the smaller art and will make you happy every single time you walk by it.

Here’s another version of this idea:

This sweet painted needlework, created by Elena Caron is about 4.5” in diameter. The faux wreath also isn’t very big, but it really gives that sweet lady a little more importance on the wall. I put this up during the Christmas holidays (she was a wonderful gift), but I can assure you that this will stay up all year long.

And of course I made a video for this blog post too! I promised myself that I’d keep making videos until they get better or I throw my hands up in surrender. They may not be better yet, but I’m not giving up!

I hope this was helpful!



P.S. Do you follow me on Instagram? It’s fun to post photos of easy, DIY projects there and it’s not quite the black hole that so much of social media can be.

Embrace vibrant colors!

The fact that it's January seems to make me focus on color.  I really miss my leaves. So I scrolled through my photos and look what I found:

When you see that purple, don't you want to just fall into it?  Wouldn't you like to see some of that color every single day?

When I heard that Pantone had named Ultra Violet as their Color of the Year, I was thrilled.  The world needs more purple.  I probably wouldn't paint my walls with it, but I definitely look for this kind of purple--strong, vibrant, saturated--in accent pillows,  on throws, in art and definitely in fresh flowers.  

But maybe I would paint my walls with it.  Here's some serious inspriation:

It's the prettiest kitchen I have ever stepped into and I'll never forget it.  Those walls!  Look at how they're balanced with white, light wood finishes and sparkling natural light.  Using soft neutrals: gray, taupe, cream and white gives the eye some relief when using a showstopper color.  The eye always needs some relief, otherwise it's hard to take it in for a sustained period.  At least that's how I am.  

After the flowers in the first picture were gone, I still had a reminder because...

I painted an old frame to create a vignette with art!  That pop of purple on gray walls sure does make me happy.  That's what vibrant colors do--they make us happy.  

Then there's this:

A friend is using color to put his own stamp on a beautiful old home and the above pics show two of his rooms.  is this something you could live with?  I didn't think I could when he started painting, but now I can see they would make me incredibly happy.  And creative.  Like, all the time. The picture on the left lets you peek into an adjoining space.  The moldings in that room are painted the orange you see in marigolds and they're gorgeous with the red walls.  The guest room (pic on the right) is softer, but still unexpected.

You can get vibrant colors into any room with accessories, paint or fabrics. Whatever suits you best.

The top photo in the above group shows drapery panels in a vibrant pattern on red wall - I need to tell you about that color-happy client in another post.  I wrote about those sassy office chairs in this post and the blue chair with the cute-as-a-button orange pillow was in this post.  The gorgeous blue walls showed up in this very recent post.

Look for a favorite color that gives your brain a little jolt of happiness and put it in your house!








My chairs are too short for the table!

I've heard from several clients over the years that their Kitchen chairs are a little too short to be comfortable at the table.  They feel like little kids sitting at the grown-up table.  We had the same problem at our house!

Before - you can't tell from the picture, but the fabric is old and dirty and they sit too low at the table.

Before - you can't tell from the picture, but the fabric is old and dirty and they sit too low at the table.

The answer is to reupholster your chairs using thicker foam on the seat.  We like our Kitchen chairs, above.  They're by Amisco and made of white metal. The cheery floral fabric on the seats wore well for a number of years, but then just looked dirty, so I decided to reupholster the pads myself and finally raise them up with thicker foam to get a better height.  Big mistake.

Lumpy DIY job.

Lumpy DIY job.

The mistake was thinking that I could do the job myself.  I didn't take a picture of the messy side of my work, you'll just have to believe me when I say they looked like a child had done the job.  If you look closely, you'll see some lumpy stuff going on because I made every mistake in the book.  After wrestling with 3 out of the 4 chairs, I didn't have the heart to go on, so left the 4th in it's original state, dirty fabric and all, and stepped away from the project.  For about 2 years.  What can I say?  Time flies.

They're finally fixed and looking great.  

After - we love them again!

After - we love them again!

A short time ago I discovered Revolution Performance Fabrics, made right here in the USA.  This fabric is bleach cleanable, well priced and comes in all sorts of nice patterns and colors.  I used their Ombre pattern in the Flannel colorway.  Off the chairs went to my oh-so-awesome upholsterer and they returned looking as you see above.  Fantabulous.  Tailored. Bleach cleanable (that bears repeating).

And with 5" foam on these seats, we sit high and proud at our table.  Very comfy!