Decorating advice and confirmation needed

The condo that my wife and I live in has this really long and awkward wall. Basically, you have the kitchen immediately to the left as you come in the front door (one of those open type kitchens that you can see in to the “dining room”/living room over the counter type things.

The wall on the left is some 20 feet long, broken up only by the fireplace (which is about 15 feet in). The question is: what do I do with it?

The Mrs. Came home today with a bunch of these decorative tins (you know those things that perhaps cookies or raisins or what have you came in at one point with the decorative lids). Her idea was that we put the lids of said tins up to decorate this awkward wall.

Well, I can’t say why, but this idea says “people of trailer” to me. I expressed as much.

The thing is this, though; we really need to do something with this wall. It is terribly bare and makes it look as if we just moved in. Money is tight, so I turn to you folks for ideas (also, please tell me that my aesthetics are not out of whack to feel that the whole putting a bunch of tins up on the wall is cheap and tacky).

This is a sample of the kind of tins that we are talking about. Not 100% specific to the ones that she bought, but it will give you an idea.

The tins may not be the best possible idea.

I’m not clear wide the space is – this is a hallway with a blank wall to the left and the kitchen to the right? (Your OP has both on the left)

The problem with a lot of visual stuff is that you need to be able to back up a little to be able to see it well.

The first thing that occurs to me is a single big piece – like a quilt or a tapestry. Back in my hippie days, we’d used Indian print bedspreads as wall hangings – I noticed in the Bed Bath and Beyond flyer the other day that they’re selling similar things now. You can also get quilts for about $50 or so that would look nice.

If I am picturing this correctly, then you have the same long hallway that my SIL does.

She’s covered it with framed family photos, the Wall of Fame. Not just your static studio shots, but also dynamic photos of the kids playing, etc.

I think that will be more interesting than a bunch of decorative tins, IMO.

Well, since you asked, I’d stay away from the tin lids, myself, unless they were part of a collection of vintage tins or something. Even if she only had a few vintage ones and wanted to start a collection, and pieced out the vintage ones with newer ones to be replaced as her collection grew.

I’m going to second the “family photo” wall idea. The frames don’t have to match. If you have some older family photos (going back several generations) they are particularly well suited for a “family photo” wall. If you don’t have enough interesting photos to fill in the space you can mix them up with other things – even one or two of the tin lids if she has some she’s particularly attached to. Some other things I’ve seen on photo walls were old license plates; framed diplomas and military awards; shallow shadow boxes with wedding, college or military memorablilia; crafty little signs with either the homeowner’s names or clever sayings. More generic filler choices include small, flat baskets and wreaths with or without fake flowers and greenery.

A tapestry or woven blanket is also a good idea, if you like that type of thing and it goes with your decor. I have a friend who’s decorated in a Southwestern style who uses mexican blankets on such pesky walls. If your decorating is more in a Country vein, then a quilt would work well – an old family one is especially nice. Or you could buy a new one – I’ve even seen pretty ones at Target and Walmart. Or check eBay to see if some family has an heirloom on the block.

Finally, do either of you have a collection of any type? If the hall is wide enough you could put narrow shelves there to display the collection. I have a friend who had about a million of those fancy little houses (David Winter cottages, I think). She got several narrow curio shelves (about 8 inches deep) and used them to line her hallway. More dusting than I’d want to do, but it looked very nice. I had another friend who collected comic books. He went through his collection and found some not-very-valuable books with interesting covers and framed them all in matching frames and staggered them down his long hall. This would also work with magazine pictures relating to a hobby you two share (motorcycling or something.) eBay has vintage magazine pages available for everything you could possibly think of – quite cheap, too.

If you can paint the wall, you might find that it would be fun to do kind of a streaks and splatters design with paint (think about art class when you used a toothbrush to splatter paint on a paper, only on a larger scale) in colors that go with the decor of the rest of the area. Then, you can use this as a background to hang family pictures on- it’s a bit more creative-looking than just a plain white wall.

I have always thought about buying a book of black and white prints, by Hogarth or Dore or something (these books come for less than $20), cutting the prints out, framing them, and hanging them in a grid. There are lots of pictures of stairways in English country houses in which this has been done (occasionally with watercolors, but also with plain prints). England also once had a fad for pasting the prints directly to the wall, in tromp l’oeil frames, but I’m not so fond of that look.

Actually, it would probably becoming pretty overwhelming pretty fast. Not sure it’s such a hot idea for a very large wall.

I agree about the tin lids. They should be vintage and part of a collection. If the wall is one of the first things a visitor will see upon entering your home, you could hang art prints that are matted with the decor colors from the other rooms.

I’ve heard people on those decorating shows say it’s tacky to put family photos in a group, out where your visitors are forced to look at them. I don’t think it’s tacky, but if they’re all in color it can be distracting. Maybe get them printed in black & white with colored mats.

Thanks for the suggestions folks. Keep 'em coming. Just a couple of points of clarification: The wall in questions is not a hallway, it is the wall in the living room.

Here is a photo (taken before we moved in) to help. The photo does not really do the situation justice, but it is that wall over to the left that I am talking about. This is looking the other way, towards the kitchen and front door. Note: terrible 70 “chandelier” has already been replaced with more modern looking ceiling fan.

Further restriction is that spouse has aversion to tapestries for some reason. Final point is that I do own, not rent so can do more or less whatever I want (althoug resale in the future is something to think about).

Oh, and if it helps the rest of our “decor” could best be described as neo dorm room. The “entertainment center” consists of an old steamer trunk (located in the corner just past that fire place), we have a futon couch thing across from the fireplace and a smallish (just bought) round table and chairs under what was that horrible lamp as a dining room set. Also there are stools to sit on in the kitchen counter area.

I personally think one or two big things look better than a bunch of little things. If a tapestry is out (sigh), perhaps one or two big posters would work. If there’s an Ikea near you, thay have really nice big prints and frames for not a lot of money. Or, of course, there are various online sources. In my dining room, I have this poster (along with a matching one of a great blue heron).

I don’t think the tins say “trailer park” (and don’t see anything wrong with something saying “trailer park” anyway, frankly), but I don’t think they’d be terribly effective on a wall that large. It would look too futzy and overdone by the time you put enough of them up to fill the space.

If it were my house, there would be a very large picture or mirror over that fireplace. Depending on just how big that wall is and how the rest of the furniture is arranged, you might not need anything else.

if you are into the tin thing; i would go for a few “old time” kitchen advert.s.

they are about 14x16 and have flour, chocolate, or other food products on them. they are on pressed tin and have wee holes at the 4 corners for you to tack them up. some of them are really nifty looking.

if you want to use the little tins you have already, i would put up a mantle shelf over the fire place or a set of shelves around the fire place and put them there.

if this is a wall that you see more from a living room that you watch tv or movies in; movie posters can be rather fun.

So this is the wall behind your dining table, basically? In that case, I think you’ll want to avoid a grouping of small things (such as photos and memorabilia) – because people have to be close to them to appreciate them (this is why they work in a hall) and the furniture will be in the way. You need something big – two or three large posters or prints, in matching frames. Or two or three mirrors in fancy frames.