You’ve seen gallery displays — white walls, floating shelves, and multiple objects but without any clutter.
That minimalist aesthetic is intended to showcase the objects by presenting them without any distractions from the background. That’s why walls are inevitably white, edges are crisp and objects carefully arranged — ideas associated with art galleries.
When gallery style displays are applied to a home it can be seen as clean — or spare. It’s a matter of perception. What’s indisputable is that few want to live in homes as intentionally staged as art galleries and even fewer can maintain that level of neatness and organization for very long. So I was fascinated by a country house near Philadelphia where the owner displayed her collections of American folk art in all-white rooms with gallery style displays.
In the guest room [top], a double casement window is purposefully left unshaded and the bed is pushed against the wall without benefit of a headboard. That leaves the extra deep window sill free to be used to display a flock of a dozen in birds, each mounted on stands. At sunset or early in the morning, it must look like they are flying by. The 19th century American portrait hangs above a Saarinen womb chair.
At the entrance to a bedroom, a vertical stack of shallow shelves are used to display colorful spear-fishing decoys dating from the first half of the 20th century. Just inside, four antique fire hoses are mounted on the wall, with another firehouse object above them.
The owner’s dressing room has half a dozen long shelves cantilevered on the staircase wall. Arranged much like a store display, shoes are grouped by color on the bottom row. Above the shoes are covered baskets, stacked in pairs, that are labeled on the ends. Other items are stored in matching labeled leather boxes evenly spaced along each of the remaining shelves. Uniform and impersonal, this storage system for clothing and accessories is unique and appealing to a dedicated neatnik.
A wall adjacent to the dining room isn’t actually used to hang a 19th century wooden sign. The sign is suspended by brass rods from the ceiling and lit so it casts a larger shadow on the wall behind it — giving it added importance and scale. Wooden signs are highly collectible but usually hang on the wall — here it’s as if an outdoor porch display were moved inside but treated like a sculpture in a gallery. Just brilliant.
(Source: Architectural Digest)
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