The first thing you’d notice when you walk into blogger Lisa Dawson‘s countryside home is that she is a gallery wall goddess. “Gallery walls are a brilliant way to add impact to any space, big or small. They provide a focal point to draw the eye and can be a really interesting feature,” Lisa says. “I receive lots of questions on my blog about how to create one, and it’s really much easier than it looks!” She writes a weekly interiors and lifestyle blog and a regular column for Real Homes magazine called Home Truths. She’s also the co-founder of the popular Instagram hashtag #myhomevibe, which has garnered almost a million posts in under three years, and co-host the Revamp Restyle Reveal project, a twice yearly event where ten bloggers are challenged to update one room in their home using DIY skills over four weeks.
Her home — which she shares with her husband, her three children and her two pets — is a 1759 Georgian house in York in the U.K. Her family moved to the countryside from the South of England five years ago and haven’t looked back as they’ve turned this house into a home, filled with modern and vintage pieces and plenty of leather accents.
“Your home should make your heart sing when you walk through the door. If it doesn’t, look around and work out what it is that isn’t making you happy and change it,” Lisa says. “Research has shown that our homes account for 15% of our own personal happiness so making your space your own is really important.”
Take a peek at her home and read more about her home design + gallery wall process below!
How would you describe your personal style in one phrase?
I love juxtaposing vintage finds with modern pieces and I’m an eclectic collector!
What were your three main goals when designing this space?
1. Space to relax – I want to make the seating area super comfortable and sociable. There’s a TV in this room so it’s a really popular place to be.
2. Space for favorite pieces – I have a vintage sideboard that I love so room for this was essential.
3. Impact lighting – I wanted the lighting to be a focal point of the room, so we chose mid-century styled pieces that were perfect for the space.
Which room do you spend the most time in and what do you love most about it?
I love spending time in our family room as it’s the one place that we all congregate to relax. It’s triple aspect with doors opening on to the garden so it’s always light and bright. You can see the gallery wall I’ve created that runs from one end of the room to the other. It’s full of special memories – family photos, prints and old favorites – mixed with more modern pieces and typography. The coffee table is piled with magazines and books and it’s really a place to kick your shoes off and be comfortable. Plus it has a bar at one end of the room which is great for parties!
What’s your best advice for someone creating their first gallery wall?
Curate your prints and pictures that you want to include. The best gallery walls include memories and personal pieces which is what makes them emotive. On my own gallery walls, I include old family photographs, pictures my children have drawn, old vintage prints that I’ve picked up in thrift shops. The juxtaposition of these alongside more modern prints and typography is hugely effective.
Don’t worry too much about frames – matching or not matching, it’s totally up to you.
Use a large rug or space to find a space for each item – start placing them in the bottom right hand corner and work along and up, shuffling them about until they all fit nicely. Then starting again at the bottom right hand corner, add to your wall, one print at a time.
Don’t be scared to push the boundaries either – take it over a doorway or around a corner. It can be a very therapeutic task, plus it will really add interest to your walls.
What’s one thing in your home you couldn’t live without?
The dining table! We love having friends over – I’m a really keen cook and love planning dinner parties and inviting guests. We’ve been known to sit at the table for six hours at a time so it’s essential that it’s a comfortable place to be. Sharing food with friends and chatting for hours is one of my favorite things to do.
What were some big (or small) challenges in designing your space?
The family room is a long space so I had to work out how to divide it. It’s been through a few configurations but it’s currently zoned perfectly and it works really well. It’s also quite a challenge positioning furniture in a triple aspect room as wall space is limited.
What’s something you would do if you had an unlimited budget and timeline?
I would convert our garage into a separate annex. It’s an old barn on our property that currently has a storage garage beneath and an open plan room (used by my teenagers for parties) above. I’d reposition the staircase and make the garage space into an open plan living room and diner, then upstairs I’d create a bedroom and a bathroom. It would be great for guests but also perfect as an Airbnb. Plus it would be great fun to design!
What’s your best piece of advice to those just starting to design a space for themselves?
Look at the bones of your home and make the most of them. I live in a Georgian house, so I’m always really aware that I should be focusing on the original features such as the windows and the coving.
If you’re planning a room, start with an empty space and keep it neutral until you decide if you want to add color. Add your favorite piece first, such as a painting, a piece of furniture or lighting, then work the rest of the room around this item. Keep adding until you feel like you want to stop – everyone’s style is different so it’s totally up to you.
Shop your home – the best pieces are those you can multi-task. In my own home, I have a drinks trolley that has been used both as a bedside table and a hall console.
Try not to be influenced by trends – if you love the color pink, for example, add it first using accessories such as a cushion or a throw to see if it suits your home before you go all out with the paint.
And don’t be scared to make mistakes. It can take a while to work out your own personal style but it’s great fun trying!
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