In the 17th century, the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in Paris launched the Salon, an annual exhibition showcasing the work of recent graduates from the École des Beaux-Arts. As space was limited, every inch of wall — from floor to ceiling — was used to display pieces of various shapes and sizes. Still admired today for its eclectic charm, the salon-style hang offers endless ways to transform a room and create a unique atmosphere. Here, 29 interior designers offer a masterclass in contemporary gallery walls.
“We designed the graduated drawing shelves to bring warmth and visual interest to the kitchen and dining area,” says Kelly Bergin, describing the gallery wall she created in her clients’ New York City Tribeca home.
Its dynamic design allows the homeowners to rotate pieces ranging from works by their daughters to ones by such well-known artists as Emily Sundblad and Davide Balula. While these bring welcome pops of color to the contemporary, mostly white space, the vintage Guillerme et Chambron dining chairs and Thomas Hayes Studio stools add a warm richness. Photo by Tim Williams
“It’s filled with some of my favorite artworks and furnishings,” says Philip Gorrivan, describing his East Village, New York, entryway. “A mixture of pieces I’ve collected, photos, gifts from friends and artwork by my children.” It’s also filled with rare antiques, including a signed Louis XVI console and Regency hall chairs. Photo by Joshua McHugh
Designed in 1958 by modernist architect Robert L. Earl, this Beverly Hills bachelor pad got a funky facelift courtesy of Miles Redd, of Redd Kaihoi. In the living room, he seamlessly blended old and new, pairing a custom velvet sofa and Marc Newson marble chair, for instance, with an antique Venetian mirror and a vintage William Haines cocktail table.
The most eye-catching moment, though, is the gallery wall, which includes an original Damien Hirst painting. Photo by Trevor Tondro
“Your eye just keeps traveling up and around,” designer Todd Nickey, of Nickey Kehoe Design, says of this wall in a Hollywood Hills living room. Though exquisitely eclectic — ranging from family heirlooms to Cindy Sherman photographs — the pieces cohere in a fluid, delightful display. Photo by Amy Neunsinger
“In just one sitting, you can get a moving glimpse into the life, work and travels of the homeowners’ parents, grandparents and extended family with this gallery wall,” Zoe Feldman says, describing this Washington, D.C. entryway. One particularly noteworthy item among the framed sketches and ephemera is a letter from John F. Kennedy. Photo by Stacy Zaring Goldberg
“We shook it up,” Summer Thornton says of this Chicago dining room, which she describes as originally extremely stiff and traditional. Her goal: a “proper dining room inherited by younger owners and turned on its head.”
Thornton accomplished this transformation “by painting the walls and trim a glossy mint green color, stripping the windows of their heavy draperies to let in the lake views and, of course, installing a gallery wall to keep things lively.”
The works on display are a mix of old and new, by both well-known (Mark Shaw photographs) and lesser-known artists. An antique Baccarat chandelier adds a touch of glamour. Photo by Nick Johnson
“The clients, celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre and Krissy Lefebvre, have the most amazing art collection, so I wanted to let that take center stage,” says Marie Flanigan, explaining her design for the couple’s study in Studio City, California. “We kept the furnishings streamlined with varying finishes to add warmth and texture.” These discreetly allow the spotlight to shine on a wall of works that include photos of the Lefebvres themselves. Photo courtesy of Marie Flanigan Interiors
“We converted a room that had the feel of an upstate barn into a light and airy but still cozy den in New York’s East Village,” says Josh Evan. “By painting the reclaimed wood white, we were able to create the perfect backdrop for the client’s art collection.”
Two standouts among the bright, bold pieces in the gallery wall are the Wes Lang collage and the Tyson Reeder multicolored painting. Evan completed the space with a bevy of vintage pieces, including the ceramic lamp, Danish mid-century modern chair and 1960s coffee table. Photo by Donna Dotan
A long narrow space can present a problem. But in this Houston living room, Jamie Bush more than met the challenge. “We came up with an unconventional design,” he explains, “floating a small table as the client’s desk with an adjacent large Italian vintage cabinet to house all his equipment.”
Curved, sensual pieces, including the Gubi chairs, custom sofa and Downtown chandelier, add coziness to the streamlined space. As for the gallery wall, it features a suite of Tal R woodblock prints. Photo by Roger Davies
In his former Memphis home, Sean Anderson created a sentimental gallery wall. “The vast majority of these items were pieces I found: a fish I saw on a trip to the New England coast and etchings purchased from a booth at a Georgia antique fair,” he says. “Each evokes a particular memory, and I love the opportunity to revisit these experiences.” Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck
For a home in West Palm Beach, Florida’s equestrian community of Wellington, Timothy Godbold orchestrated a much-needed facelift. “The interiors were very ornate, heavy, old-fashioned, with a lot of burgundy and green,” says Godbold, who brightened and lightened the decor. In the dining room, neutral shades are enlivened by a gallery wall boasting pieces by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Lisa Spindler. Photo by Karl Simone
For a stately foyer in Los Angeles, Louise Voyazis went all in on a maximalist gallery wall. “I wanted to create something that would encourage guests to pause when they entered the house and that set the tone for the rest of the space,” she explains.
Voyazis calls it a rogue gallery wall because, while other rooms are adorned with works by well-known artists, the pieces lining the stairs were picked up on trips around the world and at antiques markets, restaurants and gallery shows of young artists. There’s even a vintage whale-shaped brass ashtray.
Adding its own statement to the space is a custom runner from The Rug Company. Photo by Tim Street-Porter
For a Paradise Valley, Arizona, home, Melissa Morgan created a dramatic and art-filled entry. “The highlight was a large wall for us to group the client’s collection of Goya etchings on. They are fabulous and the star of the show.” The large antique ginger jars are a close second, in our opinion. Photo by Roehner Ryan
“In my Los Angeles home, I wanted an open concept and the ability to enjoy the entire loft all at once,” says Todd Yoggy. “Being a collector of photography, I found it difficult to hang in a traditional way and enjoy all my collection. Hanging salon-style allows me to do just that.”
In the bedroom, photographs by Irving Penn, Les Demi Dieux, Bruce of LA, Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Bianchi, Luke Smalley, Bruce Weber, Peter Beard and Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte surround the Donghia-upholstered custom headboard of the Ralph Lauren platform bed, which is flanked by Arne Jacobsen for Louis Poulsen AJ sconces. The campaign stools are by Morgan Colt, and the Egg chair is an early Arne Jacobsen prototype. Photo by Eric Schwabel
Barnaba Fornasetti’s home in Milan is an ode to the fascinating universe of his father, Piero Fornasetti. In the fir-green living room, furnished with white 1960s Chesterfield sofas, Piero’s collection of mirrors in different shapes and colors is on show, creating visual dynamism in an unexpected way. “It’s difficult for me to be in a minimalist environment,” Barnaba says. “I can spend a couple of weeks in a simple hotel by the seaside, but normally I suffer a little bit.” Photo by Oberto Gili
“The space was imagined as a sculptor’s studio,” Windsor Smith says of this living room in a Santa Monica home. “The gallery wall comprises drawings by artists on napkins that were meant to be discarded but instead were framed and assembled to make up a light and airy composition.”
Above the marble mantel, custom crafted by Smith, are more artworks, by Valerie Jaudon. Also by Smith are the coffee table, designed for Century Furniture, and the rug, designed for Mansour. The antique chair in the corner was purchased through 1stdibs, while the gray leather mid-century chairs are by Milo Baughman. Photo by Michael Wells
“I would say I am a hoarder of beautiful things with limited space, so salon-style is essential to me,” says Miles Redd. “I do have a consistent eye, so it luckily all works together. But there is no plan — I am just buying what I love.”
In his New York home, he continues, “the feeling I was after was a kind of Parisian salon. There is certainly a nod to the Baron de Redé on the Île Saint-Louis, a lot of samples from 1950s Dior illustration — thank you, René Gruau — and always the English country house. All of these references are steeped in my imagination and come out as you see in the picture. Simple as that!” Photo by Paul Costello
“This is a second-floor stair hall in a beach house that we designed with architect James Carter,” Tammy Connor says of this seaside home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. “It is on a piece a property that belonged to our clients’ family for generations and was designed to feel like a casual old Florida beach cottage.
This house is as much about family history as it is about its location on the gulf, and the gallery-hung wall celebrates this sentiment. “A grouping of old family photos, newspaper articles and sentimental mementos collected over the many summer visits to this part of the Florida coast is reminder of happy times together,” she goes on.
“The lamps are old glass flycatchers that have been retrofitted. The old wooden kayak frame is hung upside down to add a bit of whimsy and nostalgia.” Photo by Mali Azima
In this dining room of a Manhattan townhouse, “the salon-hung wall mixes fabulous and varied antique portraits, collected over the owner’s many travels, with handmade restoration-glass silvered mirrors,” says Kerry Joyce.
Mounted over the mahogany racetrack-oval dining table with vintage-inspired, mohair-covered chairs by Joyce, the Irish chandelier adds character to the room. Photo by Antoine Bootz, courtesy of Kerry Joyce Associates, Inc.
In the Palm Beach, Florida, home of Betsy Shiverick, founder of Betsy Shiverick Interiors, the sitting room off the master bedroom overlooks an intercoastal waterway lagoon. “It is an incredibly nice view, to see water and beautiful houses beyond and to see the sun rise,” she says. “The large red bird print is from Mecox Gardens.
The surrounding bird prints are all from various antiques stores. It started with one bird print, and I just kept adding to it. The walls are paneled in pecky cypress, and the rug is an antique Oriental I bought at an auction in Nantucket. The sofa is George Smith, and the standing lamps are Ralph Lauren. The pillows are made with Chelsea Editions and Cowtan & Tout fabrics.” Photo by Owen McGoldrick
“I wanted to create something timeless that had nothing to do with trends or something I was into at that time,” Tali Roth says of this wall in her children’s room in New York City. “I wanted to bring together unrelated pieces — some new and some I already owned — to make something organic and memorable. I wanted to mix contemporary styles with older pieces to ensure it was completely balanced. This isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly the kind of thing you might have just one of in a space, as it is a real feature.”
A custom Reuben Paterson piece Roth received for her wedding, far left, shares wall space with an Adam Pyett oil painting, a Robert Malherbe limited-edition print and a Picasso lithograph from RoGallery, all on the top row.
On the bottom row, an Irene Grishin Selzer from Modern Times, at left, is joined by pieces by Vicki Sher and Judith Wright, as well as a vintage work. The Atollo lamp picks up the brick-hued accents in the wall arrangement. Photo by Genevieve Garruppo
“The entirety of the reading room has board-and-batten wainscoting with original sash windows that provide tons of natural light,” Paul Hardy says of this space in a 1907 Arts & Crafts house he decorated in Canada.
“The burl-wood coffee table and gemology-box end table with bronze toad were collected during the clients’ travels abroad. The paintings were purchased as a lot at auction in 2008. In my opinion, landscapes can seem antiquated when hung alone, so to modernize them, they were displayed salon style with some handmade papier-mâché masks that the clients received for a black-tie masquerade.” Photo by Phil Crozier
“I’ve loved salon-style walls ever since I first learned about them in art history,” says Louisa G. Roeder, discussing her design for the living room of this Brooklyn, New York, home.
“Salon-style hanging is a wonderful way to artfully incorporate smaller pieces scattered around the house that all have sentimental value but don’t necessarily naturally group together into any clear theme. I also really enjoy the process of figuring out how to best arrange the images — it’s a puzzle in and of itself. Next to the salon-style wall is a painting by New York artist Michael Sherman, who loves to play with landscape and perspective, and below is a mid-century chair that I found on 1stdibs.” Photo by Claire Esparros
“Located in Arizona, this Paradise Valley residence was designed by artist-turned-architect Bill Tull in the early nineteen seventies,” says Amy Lau.
“The living room houses a collection of rare Taos Society of Artists works. This is a light-infused room with a neutral color palette and flagstone floors. I purchased the Pepe Mendoza coffee table in San Diego and found the chest and the side table between the two armchairs in Santa Fe. I mixed in silver, copper and iron as accent metals to add texture.” Photo by Michael Woodall
“This is the office we did in Los Angeles for Epoch Films,” says Frances Merrill, founder of Reath Design. “The back wall is covered with Homasote, so the inspiration pinned to it can easily change, depending on current projects.
In this iteration, it includes posters by Tierney Gearon and Mike Mills.” Marc Berthier’s Walter chairs face a Monroe Workshop coffee table; the standing lamp is the Greta Magnusson-Grossman Grasshopper. Photo by Laure Joilet
“I wanted there to be a sense of calmness when you walk into the dining room, a tranquil moment,” James Huniford, of Huniford Design Studio, says of this space in a Bridgehampton, New York, home.
“I like the idea of dining benches instead of chairs and weathered natural wood. Grouping objects, like the early-20th-century French silhouettes on the wall, creates a streamlined look. On the sideboard is a collection of swordfish noses housed in an English glass cloche.” Photo by Pieter Estersohn
“In this New York City apartment, every room is filled with interesting collections of art and furniture, strong color and distinctive architectural details,” says Courtney Coleman, cofounder of Brockschmidt & Coleman.
“The bedroom was conceived as a more serene space, with soft mint-green walls and less furniture and art. To give it a cohesive look, we limited the number of fabrics, using the same printed-cotton chintz for the curtains and many of the upholstered pieces. And since there was no particular architectural detailing, we added trompe l’oeil panels to give some interest to the uncluttered walls.”
This subtle approach, however, was destined to change. “Shortly after the project was completed, our clients showed us a portfolio of early-19th-century bird engravings they had just inherited.
They weren’t just engravings, though — an early artist had embellished them with gouache, embroidery and appliquéd fabric, making for a spectacularly charming collection. We all knew at once that they needed to go in the serene bedroom, where they now fill most of the available wall space.” Photo by Roger Davies for Architectural Digest
Posted on January 07, 2021