In part two of our series on wall decor, let’s chat about getting really creative and using non-art pieces to express your unique style!

Decorating Your Walls

I hope you enjoyed last week’s post on adding personality to your home with art and gallery walls!

Did it make you think about how you decorate your walls?

And maybe try something new?!

If you missed it, you can read it here!

Before we get started with this week’s subject — non-art displays– I want to tell you a little story about how I recently applied some of the things we talked about last week to our home.

A Stitch in Time

Last Sunday, after our big Saturday snow, I headed out to one of my favorite antiquing spots, the Wiscasset Antiques Mall. With over 100 dealers, I can usually find what I am looking for there. And often something more! 😉

This time I was on the hunt for a piece of artwork for the primary bedroom. There is a bench underneath the windows opposite the bed. I have a couple stacks of decorating books there and I wanted a third element with more height.

Yes, as we talked about last week, I wanted a piece of artwork to casually lean against the wall!

I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. This is often the case when I go antiquing. I have a general idea, but wait to see what inspires me.

This is especially the case with art.

On Sunday I slowly perused the many booths, waiting to see what spoke to me.

And I was surprised!

The piece that came home with me is a vintage framed needlepoint reproduction of an 18th century sampler. (That’s a mouthful, haha!)

I did hesitate before buying it — was framed needlework too “80’s”?? And not in a good way?

Ultimately, though, I went with my gut. I knew the colors would be perfect, and loved the stylized design.

My mom was a needlepointer, so I knew how much time went into creating this piece.

The fact that it has a sailing ship theme sealed the deal for me!

Just as I recommended in last week’s post, I kept my mind open and waited for something to resonate with me.

And now that the piece is home, I have to say I love it!

Now are you ready to take your wall decor to the next level?!

What do I mean by “non-art”?

I have a friend who has a beautiful waterfront home filled with equally beautiful and significant art. I always admire her one-of-a-kind pieces. They make such a statement!

My friend and I were talking about our homes once, though, and she said something to the effect “I just hang art on the walls. You create art with your displays.”

It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me about our home.

It was rewarding to have her understand and appreciate one of the ways I express myself unique style.

And you can do it too!

By artfully displaying ordinary objects such as plates, baskets, architectural pieces, and even fish moulds, you can create something that is greater than the sum of the parts.

You can make art out of the everyday!

As with regular art, think outside the box! You can find items at your local thrift or antiques store.

Or even your attic!

For this kind of display, number is key — the more the better!

Flex your creative muscle and have fun!

Here are some non-art displays in our home!

Let’s Dish

A plate wall is a classic form of non-art wall decor.

You can take it up a notch, though, by displaying your dishes in a more creative way!

On the Fireplace

I spy Maddie looking at the camera. Do you?!

In my blog post I Am My Mother’s Daughter, I wrote about the pieces of antique blue and white transferware from my mother’s collection which now grace my home.

I have them displayed primarily in two different spots.

The more traditional symmetrical arrangement is in the dining room.

Hanging this arrangement on the stone fireplace, though, takes it from everyday to wow! The contrast between the rough and rugged stone and the smooth and refined platters enhances each.

I get questions on Instagram about how I hung the platters on the stone surface. In a small feat of yankee ingenuity, my builder helped me fashion hooks from old metal hangers. One end has a long “tail” that fits in between the stone and the ceiling board at the top of the fireplace. A wire runs from the hook and attaches to hangers on the back of the platters. The concept is similar to a Victorian picture rail.

The platters are securely hung.

That said, I don’t touch them.

In the Front Hall

A little bit symmetrical. A little bit asymmetrical.

The larger display of blue and white is over the sideboard in the front hallway.

In the beginning all that hung here was the shelf with the plates.

I then added the row of plates on the wall above and the small pieces on either side. I kept the arrangement symmetrical.

It stayed this way for quite awhile.

Until I was gifted the bird made out of a brown and white plate.

And that was all the inspiration I needed to make this arrangement more interesting!

I added a few more dishes on the upper right and tucked the bird in on the top left. I love it when “one thing is not like the others” and an arrangement is just a little off.

It has more energy and catches your eye.

You can read more about symmetrical and asymmetrical arrangements in last week’s blog post!

And check out my friend Ann’s post on Dabbling and Decorating “Blue and White Asymmetrical Vintage Platter Wall | Design Yours Today” for more inspiration!

A School of Fish

The current iteration of the fish plate wall

As much as I love my mother’s blue and white dishes, my favorite plate wall in the house is the arrangement of vintage Limoges fish plates in the dining area.

I purchased the plates at a favorite local store. This was early days in our home here and things were evolving fairly quickly.

The original symmetrical layout

I first went with a traditional symmetrical arrangement — two rows of 3 plates.

The first asymmetrical layout

Several months later, as I gained confidence and started to flex my design muscle, I rearranged the plates into an asymmetrical design.

Over the last couple years, I have gotten even bolder and added a few additional plates — a couple oyster plates, a different fish design, and some solid white to give the arrangement some “breathing space”.

I have extended the display over the window and wrapped it around the corner.

I talked in my previous post about different methods for hanging wall decor. Because this arrangement has grown and changed over time, it is one that I have just eyeballed when hanging new plates.

Yes, that means that there are a few nail holes hidden behind the plates!

But that doesn’t bother me.

Not having a plan has created an organic flow to this arrangement — like a school of fish swimming through the water.

Or, some have said, air bubbles rising to the surface.

Proof that arranging these plates in this manner inspires people to think more than a traditional symmetrical layout!

A note here on hanging plates: I am a traditionalist and use those spring-loaded metal hangers. I know they are reliable and I don’t really even notice the clips that secure the plate in front. That said, I know many people are now using the adhesive discs that attach to the back of the plate. I actually just bought some to use to hang some spongeware plates on the back of the corner hutch. I will let you know what I think of them!

Something Fishy

A collection of fish moulds

My collection of fish moulds began as many do — with the purchase of a single item.

And then another. And another.

Then suddenly I found myself seeking them out and purposely growing my collection.

Eventually people started to give them to me, because they knew I was a collector.

When I first hung these on the wall, my collection was smaller, and I arranged them in a relatively symmetrical shape.

As I am wont to do, thought, one day I looked at the expanding collection, and the display just didn’t work for me. So down they all came!

This second time I arranged them, I used the “lay out on a flat surface” method of arranging the moulds. I touched on this briefly in part 1 of this blog series. With all the different shapes and sizes, it was the only way I was able to corral them into some kind of order.

I chose a rectangular shape with with little flares at the top and bottom for some dynamic interest.

The baked haddock sign and one lone copper mold (a lobster), both gifts from a friend, are fun “not like the others” additions!

Basket Case

Shaker cheese baskets on the living room wall

I am a big fan of baskets for the texture they add to a space.

So, even though basket walls were rather ubiquitous for a while, when I saw the largest Shaker cheese basket in a local store, I brought it home and hung it on the wall.

And then I added a few more, because that is how I generally roll…

Our daughter Zoë worked as a cheese monger when she was just out of college, so we have a bit of a thing for cheese in our family.

But also, the baskets bring something different to the living room walls.

As much as I would love to hang some additional art in this area, I don’t think it would be right. Since the eyes are not unconsciously trying to make out the details of an image, the baskets give them a place to rest a bit in a room with otherwise busy walls.

And I think texture is always a good thing.

Again, I used an asymmetrical grouping for a little fun energy.

Architectural Salvage

Architectural Salvage pieces always make for interesting decorative additions to a home, especially a new build like ours.

When hung on the wall they can make for great graphic impact.

The Stairwell

Victorian porch balusters in the stairwell

There is a lot going on visually in our home, but sometimes I do crave something more simple.

Such was the case with the stairwell. I knew I wanted something decorative on the wall, but I didn’t want it to be overly fussy.

When I happened upon a weathered Victorian porch railing at an antiques sale, I knew I loved it, but had no idea what I would do with it.

As soon as the dealer mentioned taking it apart, and hanging the flat carved balusters on the wall, I knew exactly where they would go!

Hanging these pieces evenly on the stairs definitely required very careful measurements!

Upstairs Hallway

A large salvaged arch we brought with us from Maryland

As with regular art, sometimes you need to go big or go home.

This large carved arch hung in the primary bedroom in our previous home.

I almost didn’t move it with us to Maine, but a friend convinced me to add it to the truck.

I am so glad he did!

Sometimes one large piece makes just the right statement!

Out For a Paddle

In keeping with our home’s coastal location and theme, I have amassed a collection of vintage oars and paddles.

I gathered a casual grouping of them in a corner of the upstairs hall. (You can see them in the picture of the large arch.)

And others I have hung on the wall — in the guest cottage, the living room, and even on the back covered porch.

The one on the porch actually washed up on our shoreline!

Also note the old blue shutters with the sailboat cutouts I hung on either side of the windows there.

To see more of our porch on a magical summer evening, check out my post Summer in Maine: A Coastal Table Setting on the Porch.

From My Daughters’ Homes

As I did last week, I am sharing here spaces in my daughters’ homes where they each got creative with wall decor!

Zoë, the organizer in our family (and also the former cheese monger), went with a symmetrical display of wooden boards in her dining area.

And I helped Leah, who like me loves color and pattern, hang this asymmetrical arrangement of pinwheels made from pages out of children’s books. The pinwheels were decorations at a baby shower friends threw for her, and now they hang above the changing table in my sweet new grandson’s nursery!

Now It’s Your Turn!

Which thing is not like the others?

I hope this two-part blog series has encouraged you to look at your walls in a new way!

Hang a gallery wall!

Or a really large piece of art!

Take your plates out of the cabinet and display them on your wall!

Add some texture to the wall with baskets!

Or some graphic impact with architectural salvage!

Turn your quirky collection into wall decor!

Step outside the lines and go asymmetrical!

Include that one thing that is not like the others!

Let your walls reflect your unique style!

I would love to hear what you have displayed on the walls in your home!


Highlighting coastal decor and lifestyle, Maddie and Cisco, and the way life should be...