I read an article about hanging art in groups on Apartment Therapy, and immediately thought of Kasler's stairway gallery. I have always dismissed the idea of doing this in my own home because it looked too difficult, but the Apartment Therapy article breaks down the composition and explains how to achieve the look with good planning. Good planning is great, but collecting interesting items to hang is another challenge, not to mention picking frames! Kasler has an expert eye, and despite the fact that she uses all sorts of frames and art styles, it all works beautifully.
My favorite store, Mrs. Howard, has beautiful stairs that connect all three levels, and Phoebe Howard always has interesting framed series on the stairs.The stairs at the 2008 Christmas showhouse had beautiful framed artwork in a dramatic series. Interiors by Bob Brown.
A lone dramatic painting is the focus on this unusual stairway. Interiors by Frank Babb Randolph.
One reader suggested a beautiful architectural element in the stairs, to add interest without putting art in the space (as it is such a high traffic area, and when you have children and a dog there are so many hands and tails hitting those walls!). I love the look (this is from James Michael Howard, who is a master at architectural design), but with housing values plummeting every month, I can't justify putting any beautiful architectural detail into my current house. Plus, I am hoping to move within a year (although, the financial crisis and uncertainty in the world is making me appreciate what I have instead of longing for what I don't have).
Another James Michael Howard space, with a series of botanicals in the stairway. I suppose the bontanicals are hung so high because of the scale of the space, and so that they can be seen over the beautiful iron on the stair rail.
Another James Michael Howard. Although this space has its own unique architecture and challenges, I love how Howard has used the framed botanicals in a staggered pattern on the right, then carried through to the left size of the stairs. I also love a striped rug on a stair!
One final picture from James Michael Howard. He seems to like stairs as much as I do, perhaps because stairs provide such a great place for architectural expression. In this stairway, he uses a single line of framed items (photographs perhaps), perhaps because he is working with the architectural constraint of the ceiling.
A picture from Houston designer Ginger Barber's house, via Cote de Texas. She used a small series of framed botanical specimens to lead the eye upstairs.
This stairway is actually similar to mine, in that there is a window at the top of the stairs, a large wall on the left, and a small landing at the top. I can see the edge of something framed (look at how low it is hung) and at the top of the stairs is a large piece of art. Another recommendation that came from quite a few readers, both through email and comments, was that the contemporary piece that I have at the top of the stairs is a bit small for the space, and the overwhelming consensus was to either put a larger, taller piece of art there. One reader even recommended a Swedish or barometer clock, which immediately got me thinking about the mora clock reproductions that I have admired at a local Swedish antique store. Image via Traditional Home.
One of my favorite rooms by Phillip Sides has a large object on the wall of the stairs - it doesn't look like a tapestry, but it doesn't quite look like a painting either. Whatever it is, the scale is large.
I have always found this picture to be interesting, with the lone small framed item at the bottom of the stairs. Design by Thom Felicia.
This home in an Atlanta real estate listing has been in the market for quite a while. The owners have filled the blank space on the stair wall with a variety of paintings gallery style, with paintings both large and small. I must admit, this is not the look I am going for. It comes across as way too heavy and formal to me. Also, the scale of the space needs to be grand in order to support this look, and although my space is a fine size, it is not grand!
A large painting anchors the wall in this space designed by Kerry Joyce. I certainly do not have the scale or proportion in my home to carry this off, but I appreciate the look!
A painting at the top of the stairs in Max & Company, Mrs. Howard's more casual/contemporary store.
Another picture of the stairwell at Max & Company. Everything is sold off the floor, so the scene changes every month, but I remember when these medium size framed prints were on the wall of the stairs at Max & Co. Although it is a bit hard to see them in this picture, I remember that the size of the framed prints and the soft colors of the matt and frame made them a really beautiful choice for this space.
Finally, a reader sent me an email that really touched me, and I wanted to share it with you. She said that her late father was an artist, and in art "blank spaces are just as important (and sometimes more important) than the drawing/painting part of the artwork. I didn't REALLY understand what he meant until I went to a Cezanne drawing show at the Met about 20 or so years ago. He's right. I also think this rule applies to interior design. Used judiciously, empty space/blank space is powerful and dramatic, and lay people (and some decorators) don't know it/utilize it". I was so thankful to her for imparting this wisdom from her father, and it really got me thinking. What I gravitate to in interiors are clean lines, uncluttered spaces, where every piece is selected with care. I do love a contrast of positive space and negative space. So maybe it is OK to keep this wall open until I find just the right thing, or maybe just the right thing is nothing. I will post what I end up doing, and I do think that moving the contemporary piece at the top of the stairs is a good idea. Again, I would like to thank my readers for their feedback, and feel free to email me any time - I really loved hearing from so many of you yesterday.
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