I’m a commercial photographer. She’s an elementary school teacher. It’s an interesting mix for sure. We’re not professional interior designers (just yet!), but we have quickly become eclectic interior designers in our pad.
Interior design and photography go hand in hand. It’s not a new concept by any means. What has become popular is incorporating an eclectic mix of personal photos (old and new), family heirlooms and acquired antique pieces into a common theme in your home. Think small scale TGI Fridays’ or Applebee’s interior design concept.
It’s a simple way to relive trips, family history, and just life in general while giving your home a fresh, original look that sets your décor off from the neighbors. It also eliminates the need for those dreaded old wall photo frames that hold 40 photos. Sorry if you have one. Really, I’m sorry.
Following a fantastic trip to Seattle and Alaska this summer my wife Erin and I decided to refresh a nook wall. We would use some of my photography from the trip and pick up a few antique pieces related to the iconic Pike Place Fish Market that we visited and quickly fell in love with in Seattle. Erin and I were on a mission…a crazy, coffee induced, antique shop treasure hunt for the ages for items all things “fish and farm market” that lasted over many winter weekends. The final list: antique fishing net with an early 1900’s metal fish mold, meat cleaver, scales, chalk board (for current market prices), cardboard egg box, colorful fruit box, a rooster (not a real one – but that would be interesting), a small burlap seed bag and some other pieces that were used elsewhere in the kitchen.
In the mean time I decided to get our five favorite market related images (see photos at bottom of post) printed on sheer, matte metal instead of traditional photo paper. They came with float mount hangers allowing the metal prints to float ½” off the wall giving them some dimension (see top photo). I tried to explain the print process to Erin (although I had actually never ordered one…let alone five) She gave me the reigns on the photo order and trusted my judgment (to me that could only mean if they look terrible it was all my fault). They arrived one afternoon while she was in school so I crossed my fingers, held my breath and opened the box. Oh so awesome (the metal prints and my decision of course). The sheer matte process allows for the brushed metal to show thru the print in the lighter areas making for a brilliant metallic look that fit well with the market theme…almost sign like.
This past weekend the wall decor went up (above) with great fanfare…even some hoopla. Erin and I are alike in many ways and very different in others which makes these types of projects a lot of “fun”. Think type A vs. type B personalities. Right brain vs. left brain. It took about 2 hours to plot out and hang all the pieces. In addition, I was not allowed to play with the antique meat cleaver (due in part to my actions with it at the antique shop), which took some of the fun out of it all. Once the metal prints were up, the other various pieces seemed to fit together like a big fun fish market puzzle (without the odor) thanks in part to our great teamwork. Hang the Mission Accomplished sign. Project over. Time to chill…well no, read on.
Some loose logistics…
1. Pick one room (or even just a wall) as your first project. Don’t try to revamp the entire house all at once!
2. Pick a theme for that space that fits your lifestyle. Past, or more current stuff… A family vacation or maybe remnants from of an old family business or other family history…
3. Go picking for cool heirlooms or elements that will work for you! Go all out American Pickers style and dive right into your closet, attic or basement like Mike and Frank. For the crème de la crème old stuff, hit up the parents or better yet the grandparents house (or great grand parents if you are super lucky to have them around). They have the really good stuff stashed away for decades upon decades. I recommend asking for permission first and of course if you are not an only child like I am (spoiled much?), make sure you share the goodies with siblings! Most parents and grandparents are glad to see family heirlooms out of the dark attic, dusted off and on display for all to enjoy.
4. Get the story behind the family pieces if possible!! Older family members love to reminisce. Make note of who owned it, the era it’s from and any stories related to the piece. This is what makes the heirlooms extra special.
(I created a barber area in a section of my game room using a cabinet, a cash register, combs, razors, clippers and of course photos all from my grandfather’s barbershop. I’ll feature that in another design blog.)
5. Look for photographs that will tell a story and compliment your items! The coolest of cool is actually having an old photo of a relative with the object you are displaying. Display those together! The number of photos you need will depend on your space. Edit tight. You probably don’t need more than 4-5 photos for a wall (depending again on the size of your wall). General photo tips apply when choosing what you will display. Choose well-composed and well-lit photos when possible. Decide on the printing technique…traditional prints, metal prints, gallery wraps, black and white or color? You have many options. Feel free to email me with questions about the various choices available.
6. Take it all in. Inventory your newly acquired items and put together your theme for the room or wall. Paint first if need be. The rules are simple and loose…keep the wall design simple and clean. Make sure the items compliment your theme. You don’t want your home to look like an episode of Hoarders!
I use a mix of small nails for lighter objects and screws with anchors for the heavier pieces. Hanging larger objects can get tricky. I use Monkey Hooks and picture frame wire on the backs of objects… whatever I can to get them safely secured to the wall without seeing what I used to hang them… or damaging the pieces.
Ok, I will now note that once I thought “The Great Nook Wall Project of 2013” was completed a snowball of sorts started rolling down a hill. This happens…a lot. We decided to replace our more formal, light blocking curtains in the kitchen and nook with lighter, more airy burlap Roman Shades that opened up the space and let the light flow in. Then we changed out island light shades (twice as of this post) and finally swapped out our large formal nook light for a funky red metal light that all compliment the new nook wall.
Now when we want to reminisce about our trip we don’t have to open a photo album or turn on the iPad we simply walk thru the nook!
Check back for more of my eclectic design thoughts.
(Jason Minick, is owner/photographer at Minick Photography )