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Gallery walls make a statement with clocks, planters

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

My family moved into a new house three months ago but it didn’t truly feel like home until I installed a beloved part of our decor that has followed us from place to place over the last decade and a half: our gallery wall.

On the back wall of our family room is a collection of family photos in a range of sizes and shapes but all with with the same white matting and black frames from Michael’s. There are images of my kids as babies, a wedding photo and my siblings. At the center is a large portrait of our family.

A gallery wall is so much more than a collection of beloved family photos or artwork. It’s a focal point and a statement. It personalizes a space, gives it visual impact and keeps photos in one neat spot.

But gallery walls require precision and attention to detail (including a measuring tape). Without the right tools or measurements, a gallery wall can quickly become a gallery mess.

With my own wall, I love to change out the photos as my kids grow or sub in the best images from our latest vacations. And I don’t just have photos. I like to weave in artwork where I can.

But these days, who says a gallery wall even has to be a collection of framed photos or art? Why not oversized clocks? Or plates? Or planters? Options abound.

At the new Art Van Furniture on Ford Road in Canton, an entire wall on the second level is covered in a beautifully orchestrated collection of white melamine plates that fit perfectly together.

Ashley HomeStore in Westland, meanwhile, has a fun collection of oversized clocks just inside the lobby.

Large clocks also figure prominently at N. Reding and Sons Vintage Industrial Uniques of Michigan in downtown Holly. Some of the industrial-style clocks are handmade by owner Beth Domanik’s husband Jeremy.

The wall “is a staple of our store,” says Beth.

The clocks are sourced from all over the country, she said.

“Some of them have leather and hardwoods used for construction as well as re-purposed metals and gadgets,” she said. “We have a wide variety of vintage, aviation and steam punk looks.”

But clocks are just one option.

Mirror, mirror

For a home in Birmingham, local interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins of Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates created a statement wall leading to the home’s second level using a mix of mirrors. More than a dozen antique and vintage-inspired mirrors make a cool statement just off the foyer.

“There are all different sizes and shapes and styles,” said Jenkins. “We’re always adding to it.”

Jenkins said a lot of times with two-story homes with exposed open areas, the builder and architect “don’t think about how difficult it it to decorate those negative spaces.”

“I find artwork, mirrors” are a great option, he said. “It can be very inexpensively done. There’s a real medley of mirrors here at a various different price points. Some are antiques, some are just reproduction pieces from retail.”

Jenkins says it opens up the area.

“It pops and brightens up the space,” he said.

Plate wall

At Art Van’s new Canton store, which opened earlier this year, Leah Zanetti, the retailer’s director of graphics, said the plate wall was designed “in an effort to elevate and capture the dining department in a more dramatic fashion.”

“Since the nature of dining furniture is very low, that department often displays flat,” said Zanetti in an email.

Zanetti said the biggest challenge was finding dinnerware that was light enough to mount vertically.

“The plates are all melamine that have tiny pins drilled in the back and mounted to the wall with additional silicone,” she said.

To lay out such a big statement wall, Art Van turned to Prop Art Studio in Detroit, which did both the layout and installation.

Have a plan

When it comes to creating your own gallery way, designers say always have a plan first. Don’t just start hanging up pictures, planters, mirrors or whatever you plan to use. Lay it out on the floor first and don’t be afraid to move things around.

Some designers suggest using painter’s tape on the floor so you have a good sense of the size of the way you plan to decorate.

As far as space between items, there should be 3 to 6 inches of room between frames in a gallery or salon wall, according to

“Any less, and the arrangement becomes too crowded,” according to the interior design website. “Too much space, and the frames lose their relationship to each other.”

Stylist Kirsten Grove, author of “Simply Styling,” suggests spacing between normal standard- sized frames as four to five inches apart.

So if you have a large wall at home that you aren’t sure what to do with, consider a gallery wall. And think outside the picture frame. The more personal it is, the more it will make a statement.

(313) 223-4686

Twitter: @mfeighan