Sunday, May 10, 2009

design obsession: frames

walls covered with framed photos are nothing new...even the most simple home will have a variety of family photos displayed on the wall. in the last ten years or so, everyone picked up on the pottery-barn-crate-&-barrel-ikea trend of lending a sense of intentionality to these framed photos. matching frames or photos with a similar color palatte can create a fabulous design statement on a large wall without excessive cost.

a recent visit to the donovan bar & lounge at brown's hotel in london revived my love of this look and the sophisticated effect it can have in a room. it also led me to observe that this trend camps in one of two extremes:
perfectly measured rows of framed photos
scattered, happenstance, vintage-loving arrangements displaying a variety of media (paintings, sketches, photographs, etc etc).
here are a few case studies of each extreme!
...happy sophisticating...

the source of inspiration--the entire room was outfitted in various shades of gray. these beautiful, sometimes controversial photos all framed uniformly and displayed in perfect rows beautifully echoed the gray plaid on the banquettes. utter sophistication.

another shot of the donovan bar.

here, the framed photos on the right-hand wall in this dining room echo the long horizontal lines on the beautiful molding. the simplicity of their placement perfectly suits the tidy dining room.

pottery barn at its finest. proving, also, that you can frame just about ANYTHING and create a nice focal point for a large wall.

the layering of these frames adds some extra visual interest.

the epitome of "flea market chic," the placement of these frames perfectly captures the very bohemian tone of the room. here the designer has added additional texture by using a variety of materials to suspend the framed photos.

and again, pottery barn's twist on the trend. all of the photos are either black and white or sepia tone, which prevent the wall from becoming too busy in what seems to be still a rather refined home. the variety of finished featured on the bench and accessories below help to lend a sense of reason and intentionality to the variety of frame finishes. the plant on the bench brings an organic quality necessary to keep the entire display from becoming too weighty.

altogether lovely. fresh, clean and modern. this room is a nice balance between calm and colorful. the wide mattings used within the frames prevents the multi-colored artwork from feelings too busy or cluttered in this serene space.

the strong colors in this room make the stronger frame colors work. additionally, the designer has used the brown, black and white in both the frame finishes and elsewhere in the room (floor, sofa, rug, throw pillow). this gives a sense of intentionality to the framed photos. also notice that these are less sprawling on the wall. this gives the entire display the appearance of being a single "installation." had the photos covered the entire wall, this would have been overwhelming and heavy. in its current arrangements, it's just interesting and not too weighty.

a more vintage twist on this trend. lining up the photos on the mantle makes this trend feel even more natural. the white backdrop of the mantle creates a perfectly clean and simple backdrop for the display. also, the incorporation of accessories, plants and trinkets amongst the frames makes this arrangement feel especially personal. one of my favorites!

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