Some Sunroom Art

From the moment we painted that brick wall in our sunroom, we were itching to get some art hung. And we finally found time to get ‘er done after returning from a six-flights-in-four-days blitz on Friday. It’s weird how much more “lived in” a room feels when you slam some art on the walls. Seriously, I know the feeling of dragging your feet on the hanging of the art, but after nearly seven years of house-fixing-up, it never ceases to amaze us how that little step makes such a difference.

In continuing with the general theme of this sunroom design, we’re trying to spend as little money as possible and just use things we’ve already have around – at least for the meantime while we save our pennies towards things we might want to invest in down the line. We’re currently saving towards tackling Clara’s furniture-less big girl room and a guest bathroom that we haven’t touched as well as a front porch and carport makeover). So not purging money in the sunroom makes sense to us – especially since we have piles of to-be-hung art cluttering up the to-be-cleared spare room.

So that’s exactly how this little eclectic asymmetrical arrangement came to be. We decided it would look a lot better on the wall than in a pile on the playroom floor. Oh and the wood side table on the right looks a little heavy right now (even with the wooden art on the left side of that wall that we added to help balance things out) but we have plans to make it work a lot better down the line, so stay tuned…

We basically brought in a bunch of frames / art-sized objects and played with them until we found a grouping that felt somewhat balanced – both with one another and with the other furniture in the room, while also subtly mimicking the slope of the ceiling. Plus, we were lucky enough to find art that tied into the colors in the pillows as well as some darker pieces to bring some visual weight into the room. The goal was a bit of an eclectic look – nothing too matchy-matchy and perfect.

And if you’re curious about how we hung everything, we put together this animated GIF to show the order in which things got added to the wall. After each one we just stepped back, held the next one up, shimmied it around until we liked the placement, and moved on to hanging that one:

There wasn’t any methodical measuring since we wanted a casual and eclectic outcome, so the good news is that you don’t always need to break out any crazy math to get a collection of frames on the wall (although that’s usually necessary if you’re going for a completely balanced grid, like the one over our sofa).

If anyone’s curious about how I created the graphic above, check out this Photoshop tutorial. And if you’re wondering how we dealt with the crazy light and shadows that we get in that room, here’s our professional technique. Yep, that’s a giant poster of our local magazine cover that I’m using (given to us after a Richmond tour event). Work with whatcha got, am I right?

The items on the right are both maps – a North America map from a calendar we’ve had for a while (with the intention of using it for art) and the other is an old map of Richmond that has lived everywhere from our first home’s guest room to this home’s kitchen. Personally I think it’s a little “Hey, look! This is the side with the maps!” to have both of them there. But of what we had around, they were our best options for now – especially since the colors in the top one work so well in the room. We’re definitely open to letting everything on this eclectic frame wall evolve though – so it hopefully won’t be a maps-only zone forever. And we’ll keep you guys posted whenever we swap things out.

The left side is an odd mix of things I never thought we’d hang together. But somehow it kinda works for both of us. Call it stepping out of our white framed comfort zone, if you will. The big brown item on the far side is doily stretcher that we got at a thrift store this summer for $4. It caught our eyes back then because it was big, geometric and (okay) cheap. So I’m glad we finally found a spot for it. Especially since it begins to sort of subconsciously balance the wooden end table on the other side of the wall.

Next to it are two pieces of painterly art (one’s a watercolor print and one’s actual paint on a wood canvas). The bottom one is a print that someone brought us at one of our book tour stops. She hadn’t done it herself but she said it reminded her of us (it’s by Sally at We love it. Especially Clara, who is very much intrigued by the beard, the sharks, and the boat (in that order – yes the girl loves beards). The top item in the arrangement is an amazing painting of Burger that a reader’s husband painted (we met her on the book tour too, so Sherry got to gush about how talented her husband Joe is). Does that not look exactly like Burger? He’s got the same soulful give-me-your-cheeseburger eyes.

We hung all of these at night, so it was too dark to get pics of the process. Here’s our single attempt below…

… but for those who are curious about how to hang art on a brick wall, this is the method that works for us:

  • use a masonry bit (you can buy them separately for your drill) to make a plastic-anchor-sized hole into the brick (or into the mortar when you can, since that’s easier)
  • hammer a plastic anchor into the hole
  • screw a screw into the anchor, so it’s held strongly in place (leave about half an inch of the screw sticking out of the anchor so the picture hook or the picture wire on the back of the frame can be hung on that)

I find this method gives me a strong enough hold to hang pretty much any picture frames – I’ve even used this approach to hang some pretty heavy mirrors. And as for undoing any unwanted holes down the line (sounds pretty hardcore slash irreversible to drill into brick, right?) we’ve had some pretty great success with patching holes in painted brick or mortar – so it really isn’t irreversible at all! Just yank out the anchor with the back of a hammer, shove some paintable caulk into the hole, and paint it for a fix that’s not obvious at all thanks to the craggy and uneven nature of painted brick.

What was far less involved than hanging frames on the brick? This. It’s two prints that I coveted for a while and have finally found a place to hang (don’t mind the table and chairs under them – they’re just things we’ve had forever so they’re sitting there until we figure out something more substantial and balanced for that spot). We think a piece of furniture with storage in it will be more functional since we can sit on the daybed and the egg chair, so more seating seems like overkill). You know we’ll keep you posted…

As for the bike prints, they’re only held up with masking tape at the moment (just so we could figure out the placement) but I think I’m going to build some simple wood frames for them soon. That is, unless you guys like the raw tape look. Kidding.

We wouldn’t be surprised if some of this stuff moves around a little bit still – or gets changed out entirely (I’m talking to you, map wall) – but for now it’s a BIG step in making this room feel more lived in while buying nothing but paint so far (all of the furniture is just stuff we already have, which might not be there forever, but definitely works for the meantime). Here’s the new “with-art” view of the sunroom from the living room:

It’s really nice to sit on the sofa and actually see what resembles a room through that big slider (art on the wall = a huge step towards turning an old storage zone into a real-ish looking room). Can’t believe we just started working on the sunroom after over two years here! What are you guys working on? What rooms do you get to first? Is it the living room, the dining room, the bedrooms, and the kitchen like we tackled in the first two years? Which ones end up in the end of the pack? I guess we use those other spaces the most – so our guest bathroom, playroom-turned-storage-room, and our porch & carport are hanging out towards the back of the list going into year three…

Psst- We finally (FINALLY!) wrote about Sherry’s mom’s pre-Christmas visit over on Young House Life. Here ya go


  1. Heather W says

    Pics do make a world of difference…. Looks good. I think you should frame your large mag cover it ties into the room. Also, sherry where did you get the grey stool in the pics above? Thanks!

  2. says

    And those are some creative light blocking skills, although I do see John’s arm reflected in the window in the 4th photo, am I right? :)

  3. Melly says

    It’s looking really good and I love the doily stretcher as art.

    I like the moody vibe of the wall color in the night shot, too.

  4. Beth says

    I am always inspired by your art projects. I have a 2012 chicken calendar that I am ready to make into a chicken art gallery! Hooray for weirdos! However, I have no frames! Occaisionally I can snap a few up at a yard sale, but other than that they are super expensive in stores (and tend to be weird from HomeGoods). Where do you guys score all your sweet frames?

    • says

      Haha, a chicken art gallery sounds epic! Send pics when you’re done! As for frames, Ikea has the best ones (with mats) for cheap, and sometimes Target has sales or coupons but we also do the yard sale or thrift store thing to save major loot along the way.


  5. says

    Looking good gang! I love how bright everything is.

    Side note – is it just me or is John super tall? I’m 5’1 so maybe it’s just me but the fact that he can get his arm above the sliding glass doors without standing on his tippy toes (yes I checked ;-)) is impressive. :-)

    • says

      Yes, he’s my tall hottie hotness. Haha. He says he’s 6′ even but I think he’s 6’1″ – which is especially impressive to a 5’2″ like myself.


    • says

      Back story: I used to totally have a thing for tall guys as in over 6′. Since I’m 5’7″ I like being able to wear heels (back when I wore them more than shit kickers) and not be taller than them. So when I met my husband, who is 5’11” I was so smitten with him I didn’t care. Plus, it’s still pretty tall and we’re eye height when I wear stillettos…the maybe once a year I do.

      Backstory given: Never at Thanksgiving tell your family you were “willing to sacrifice a few inches”. They will burst out laughing, you will hear what you said as it comes out and bury your head in a pillow and your husband will just sit there with a look on his face that’s horrified as your father says, “it’s not often you hear a woman say that!”.

  6. Christina P says

    Love the map frames! My favorite thing to frame is a map! Also, I checked the “where we got it” page and can’t figure out where you got those painfully adorable and amazing pillows on the daybed! Help a sister out?

  7. Mollie says

    the bike art/table and chairs corner is totally giving me the ikea restaurant vibe. kind of makes me want to come over and enjoy a $2.99 swedish meatballs platter. :)

  8. says

    Since we live in a apartment, our dining room, office, and living room are the same room. It has been a pain to decorate, but the random art collection like yours has helped. I also just bought a danish teak dining table that is killer, so I can’t wait to give it some tlc and set it up!

    Any suggestions for helping this room look less of a confused and identity-less room?

  9. Emily says

    Love the evolution of the sunroom! But please, as a museum professional- don’t even temporarily use masking tape to hold up your artwork! It’s not archival and any use of it could cause chemical staining on the paper. try to find an archival tape for the longevity of your artwork:)

    • says

      Oh yes, thanks Emily! We just taped it up for the placement and plan on building frames that overlap that area (so even if it discolored that area it will be covered by a frame). Great tip for anyone without the same framing plan though! It definitely can rip or discolor prints or posters!


  10. Lina says

    I love the art, but the GIF freaked me out! When I scrolled down there was art on the walls and then it just…disappeared! haha I thought I was going nuts, but then it all came back, and I cracked up when I realized it was a GIF and not a regular picture. Thanks for the laugh – I look forward to meeting you guys in the ATL in February!

  11. says

    We started with the nursery (I moved in at 34 weeks pregnant with twins) that had to happen F.A.S.T. and then we have been steadily working on the master bedroom ever since. I read somewhere a long time ago that people usually do their own bedrooms last, and sometimes never get to them because it’s not public space and no one sees it. But since we have big renovations planned (total gut of a kitchen, taking a downstairs powder bath to a full bath and then re-working an upstairs bathroom just to name the Big Three) I wanted to have a retreat to get away from the madness that I would find calming and happy. Plus, we only have one closet in the master so I had to find a wardrobe/armoire to hold my clothes and it was like dominoes falling after that! Next up– Living room. This couch didn’t make it through the last move :(

    • says

      So smart! Yes, we did our bedroom as one of the last rooms in our first house so we wanted to get to it earlier here since we learned how much it helped to have a comfy room to run to at the end of a demo-filled day. Hahah! Still took us about two years to get it together though!


  12. Maureen says

    Love that map art!

    And, on a totally unrelated note, I am about to paint our paneled bedroom, and I was wondering if you guys had that strip of moulding that runs in the corners from floor to ceiling? If so did you just paint those the color of your wall? Or the color of your trim…. I’m leaning towards color of the wall.

  13. says

    I LOVE THE MAPS. I want to bathe in maps, that’s not weird right? We added a couple of them in our basement a few months back.. They’re some of my favorite pieces in the entire house. I think I already sent this link a while back… here’s just the picture

    and the link to the whole post in case anyone else is interested.

    We found them at HomeGoods. Sometimes you can REALLY score there, ya know?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *