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Picture-frame mix breaks up large walls

Arrangements work especially well in homes with cathedral ceilings

Dear Debbie: I have a series of frames that I have collected over the years. Some are better quality than others. The frames are either black or dark metal or wood.

I see a lot of examples of photography and small artwork hang together in identical frames. Is it poor design to combine different sizes and shapes?

Anna Marie

Dear Anna Marie: Composing an arrangement with a mix of frames can be great design - you are in good company.

This is a perfect way to break up large bare walls, especially in homes with cathedral ceilings. The selection of art shown here is showcased in a suite in the avant-garde Hotel Pulitzer in Barcelona, Spain.

The hotel's designer, Lazaro Rosa-Violan, has created stunning contemporary spaces that are filled with atmosphere and light.

There are nine frames on the wall beside the bed, all very different in design and materials.

Some are stepped, some metallic, gilded and etched. They are approximately the same size, and lined up touching each other.

This arrangement breaks many rules, and yet it works. It covers most of the wall, and around the corner is an oversized framed kimono that takes up equal space.

It gives the impression of a beloved personal collection that a well-travelled homeowner has hung for his or her amusement.

This neither looks nor feels like a hotel room. And that's the idea. The wood canopy bed and table stand warm up the neutral black and white linens and furnishings.

Satin and velvet cushions and leather chairs are a luxurious feature that pampers the senses. The decor is detailed and personal. The magic is in the framed art.

I hope this inspires you to create an arrangement for your home that looks just as special.

It takes some patience and some measuring, but it's time well spent.

Debbie's note: I have collected frames from just about every source I can think of.

I have a few very special silver frames that have been handed down from my grannie, old mirror frames I have repurposed, yard-sale and antique-store finds, inexpensive store-bought frames and some I have made myself.

Building a frame is not difficult, and you can finish off the wood to look like any material you like, from embossed leather to bamboo, steel or stone. I've read books on arrangements written by the pros, and I always end up trusting my eye.

One trick I have is to set up all the framed photos or art on the floor and move them around till they look right. This saves nail holes. Dear Debbie:

I'm painting my dining room mid-tone grey with an accent wall to be charcoal grey. I'd like a subtle hint of glitter on the accent wall to add drama.

Do you know of a product or a paint method that would achieve this effect? Launie

Dear Launie:

Rather than adding glitter to the paint, which is difficult to do and can look patchy, try a metallic paint or glaze. This will add a beautiful warm sparkle to your walls. Or choose a different sheen for the dark wall. A high-gloss wall would look modern and dramatic.

Dear Debbie: I have an ongoing dilemma that I hope you can help me with. I'd like to know how to decorate the area behind/above a flatscreen TV. The TV is on a 60-inch-wide by 27-inch-high console, so there's lots of wall space above.


Dear Claudia: Think of a flatscreen TV as a framed picture.

Since yours sits fairly low, why not line up a row of framed photos or art on the upper wall. The pictures can run the width of the console or wider.

Another option is to paint in colour blocks. Have a lighter shade of a neutral colour such as grey or beige on the wall above the TV, and darker shade blocked off behind it. Colour blocking creates interest and is easy to do.

Debbie Travis's House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie's new website,

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