Great Jones founder Sierra Tishgart put it best: “Artwork is hard!” It’s not like buying a sheet set or wineglasses you can swap out every now and then; building an art collection is forever. It’s tricky business, particularly if the closest you’ve come to getting crafty is a couple trips to the Museum of Modern Art and a brief stint with a Polaroid camera obsession. Where do you start? Well, you might want to start by changing your perspective.
There’s no rule that says you can only frame “serious” paintings and line drawings. While picking up an investment piece is worth it if you absolutely fall in love with something, your home does not need to resemble a museum. Anything can be artwork, including a strand of purple tinsel propped up in an acrylic shadowbox. We spoke to a few people who have the unconventional gallery-wall look down:
Who: Michelle Gage, designer
The story: Gage and her husband started collecting items for the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling gallery wall in their fixer-upper long before they ever moved in; it was just a matter of figuring out how to put it all together. “I can remember where I sourced almost every single piece. I plan many of my vacations around shopping for vintage treasures, so I always come home with something special,” says Gage. “One night, we spent a few hours working through the puzzle.”
The star of the show: There’s a real menagerie of animal busts, but the vintage snowshoes above the window really take the cake. “My husband and I had been searching for a good set for a while and finally found some on a trip to Brimfield, Massachusetts,” she recalls.
Who: Arlyn Hernandez, Emily Henderson Designs chief content director
The story: Hernandez’s apartment may be a rental, but it looks anything but temporary—especially the dining room. “I knew I wanted a varied wall, as in not all prints, not all photography, not all framed works. That gives you a more collected vibe,” Hernandez explains. And collected it is: There’s everything from a Van Gogh Museum souvenir picture (from her first trip abroad) to a Getty Archive photo she had blown up and hung.
The star of the show: An IKEA frame filled with curious strips of paper, at the very bottom. “We have a tradition here at work that for everyone’s birthday, we all write compliments to the birthday girl and stash them in a pretty vase,” says Hernandez. “I pulled some out of mine and double-side-taped them to the back of the frame. It might seem narcissistic to display nice things said about me, but really it’s just a reminder of the thoughtful women I get to work with every day.”
Who: Jess Blumberg, designer
The story: Blumberg sees the walls of her New York loft as a playground for found treasures. Her breakfast nook has an agricultural economy map from the 1960s, while her sofa sits directly under portraits of Jimi Hendrix and Andy Warhol done by a local artist. “I always like to have a good layered mix of materials and textures,” she says.
The star of the show: The wall of album covers given to her by her dad, who collected them in the 1970s while growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I actually kept the records inside the covers and still listen to them!” she says. Currently playing: an album by Sparks (beloved for the cover art) and another by Sade (for the music, obviously).
Who: Meghan McNeer, Domino brand partnerships visuals director
The story: “I’m very sentimental,” says McNeer. “I have two gallery walls in my apartment, and while I don’t like to play favorites, this is the first one I made, so it houses the oldest, more nostalgic pieces.” A bright red backdrop already kicks things off with a bang, but the items layered on top make for a visual treat all on their own. There’s the massive “YO” sign (“When it’s been a day, I change it to say ‘oy’”), a mask from a trip to Costa Rica (“It immediately takes me back to drinking beers in the water with some of my favorite people”), and an actual fishbowl (“His name is Frank, and it’s fun to greet him right when I walk in”), to name a few highlights.
The star of the show: An embroidery print of a yellow bird and pink flowers that holds particularly special meaning for McNeer—it was a handmade gift her grandfather gave to her grandmother one Christmas in the ’50s: “I love thinking about my masculine grandfather sitting down to try to make something sweet for my grandmother.”
See more ideas for your artwork:
The $12 Container Store Find That Totally Changed My Gallery Wall
This Wall Decor Hack Is Even Easier Than Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper
Painting Your Walls Freehand Is Incredibly Liberating