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The Number One Design Question We Get Asked…Answered

Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: MOTO Reveal: Bowser’s Bedroom

Sometimes, blog post ideas are born in Emily’s mind, maybe Arlyn’s, possibly mine or Ryann’s. Other times, it’s collective…we start one place and end up somewhere else together. And still other times, YOU tell us what you want, hence why we’re here today. During a time where it feels like our lives are put on “holiday hold,” there are plenty of other design things to talk about, so here we are. After digging through blog comments and Instagram DMs, what we were surprised to find is that many of you are still mystified by what to hang on your walls that isn’t a framed piece of art. It’s honestly our number one asked question on the blog and social, again and again. Unexpected ideas for art/how to fill a wall. We get it, it can be intimidating but we are here to help with some serious inspiration. Let’s get to it…

Flags and Tapestries

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 10
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Good Housekeeping Tour

Now using a flag or tapestry may not seem revolutionary but don’t knock it. I still look at the photo above of Emily’s old living room and literally hearts come out of my eyes. Just like the emoji. Sure, there is an art to finding the perfect flag because you should probably choose a vintage flag due to the fact that it is visually going to have more soul and depth than a brand new one. But regardless of its age, a flag is simple and can easily cover a lot of empty wall space.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 8
Design by Gabriele Salini | Photo via Est Living

Flags are a great classic but you can also have some fun with a tapestry. If you would have asked me a few years ago how I felt about the word tapestry, I would have probably said no thank you. Visions of “boho” college dorms would have flooded my brain. That is no longer the case. The one above is from the G-Rough boutique hotel in Rome and is a super playful yet cool tapestry that I would LOVE to have in my possession. It adds great color and a wonderful texture to a beautifully modern space.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Tapestry 1
Left: Design by Gabriele Salini, Photo via Est Living | Right: Design by Sarah Sherman Samuel, Photo by Matthew Williams

The G-Rough hotel really knows how to use a tapestry because they are also the mastermind being the tapestry over the mirror look. It is not a look for every space but it is SO interesting and covers nearly the entire wall as if it’s a mural (but with more dimension…and less install fuss). SO GOOD. Then to the right, we have the ever talented Sarah Sherman Samuel and her new home where she used a beautiful piece from Küdd:krig Home. It helps to add a ton of quiet texture (and covers her TV…genuis). Oh and yes she also used a Katie Gong Squiggle (my favorite) which I will talk about in a minute. Moral of the story is that sometimes a beautiful piece of fabric is all you need to liven up your big empty wall.


Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 5
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: MOTO Reveal: Bowser’s Dining Happy Nook

Let’s be honest, every wall hanging is a sculpture. But for all intents and purposes, I am making it a separate category. You can hang almost anything on the right wall and it will look awesome. Take Emily Bowser’s house. In her master bedroom, she used a vintage buoy line she found in Seattle and it’s THE coolest (it’s the top photo in this post). Then as the wall hanging veteran she is, Bowser also chose to hang that incredible ribbon piece by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm. It brings the whole nook to life. No need for a gallery wall here.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Sculptures 1
Left: Design by Gacho Studios, Photo by Nicole Franzen | Right: Design by Darroch Putnam, Photo by Or Harpaz via Clever

These next three photos are all examples that show/prove that you can put nearly anything on your wall and call it art whether it be a massive 3-D artboard, skeletons, arrows, or a stunning salvaged wood piece. They all bring the wall to life in an interesting and unique way that isn’t in every home.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 9
Design by Gabriele Salini | Photo via Est Living

So if you are someone that likes to think outside the box and shake things up then start mounting cool and meaningful things on your wall. Just remember to think of scale. Be wary of going too bitsy if you are mounting a collection together. Vary the scales or chose one big piece.

Keep It Natural

I told you the squiggle would be back! It’s still my favorite piece in the world. Aside from its general awesomeness, I think the reason is that it brings a really interesting yet natural element to my space. It makes me feel light and happy. And that should be examined I think. If you are someone who really resonates with calm/natural textures and colors, then put it on your walls.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 12
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: MOTO Reveal: Jess’ Living Room

Something as simple as a wall basket or ceramic hanging like in the photos below can add great depth and visual interest to your space. Also to be clear, you don’t need to have an all-white neutral minimal home to have natural wall hangings adorning your walls. So either search the internet for a beautiful handmade natural wall hanging (there are SO many options) or…

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Natural 1
Left: Design by Gordana Golubovic, Photo by Lauren Moore via Est Living | Right: Courtney and Michael Adamo, Photo by Kara Rosenlund via The Design Files

GO OUTSIDE and find pieces of actual nature and mount them like the newly renovated Featherston House did that I featured in our shell trend piece. Just be careful so it doesn’t end up looking like the “beach wall” in the 1995 movie, Man of The House (Beautiful sentiment? Yes. Actually beautiful? No).

Tdf Featherstonhouse Ameliastanwix 10 Web
Design by Mary Featherston | Photo by Amelia Stanwix via The Design Files

Woven Beauties

Woven wall hangings are probably the most popular or “thought of” types of wall hangings in the game. They are synonymous with the eclectic, boho style and when done right, look incredible. What I love now is that there have been some modern additions that are really stunning. Basically they are still very cool. Take Brady’s beautiful piece he used in his bedroom MOTO.

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 4
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: MOTO Reveal: Brady’s Bedroom

They are also great for covering a lot of blank space which I know is the big issue for a lot of you. Plus THAT TEXTURE your eyes get is undeniable and makes a space instantly welcoming. In the three photos below, they each feature a different type of woven wall hanging, one bold, one soft and one somewhere in the middle. While they are each different they all bring the same amount of life into the room that they are in. (Um I think this is turning into a woven wall hanging ad). Also FYI the wall hanging on the far left is a DIY. What?!

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Woven 1
From left to right: Design by Liz Kamarul | Design by Laura Fulmine, Photo via The Modern House |  Design by Alexis Brown and Elizabeth Roberts, Photo by Floto+Warner via Arch Digest

But not all woven wall hangings need to be the only thing featured on the wall. Smaller ones are a perfect addition to add depth and texture to a gallery wall like in the photo below. Don’t you want to hang in that room?

Emily Henderson Wall Hanging Inspo 13
Design by Dani Nagel, Photo by Jenna Peffley via Clever

So there it is, some visual inspiration to “glow up” those empty walls that are probably driving you crazy as you read this. Honestly just start with something if you are having a creative block. It sounds counter-intuitive to make a possible permanent hole for a non-permanent piece of art but I promise you will feel better. Head to the internet, the flea market, Craigslist, Chairish, a garage sale, nature, etc. and choose something that you love and through it up on that wall. It’s the only way you’ll know. Hope you are inspired and are filled with something other than holiday cheer. 🙂

Love you, mean it.


Don’t worry we have more posts that can help tackle the “Empty Wall” Syndrome:


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4 years ago

Lovely post here, but when might we be able to see another Budget Room post? Asking because I’ve been really missing those, especially lately when I’m spending more time indoors due to the chilly weather where I live. I’ve been in the EHD blog archives from 2018 and there are rooms there I’d love to emulate (like a rust and blush zen-ish guest bedroom) but most of the links are for items that are sadly no longer available. Keep up the good work, team!

4 years ago

I have an obsession with art that in’t traditional. I collect architectural pieces/wooden pieces when I travel and I have made them into a gallery wall. Love all of these ideas.

4 years ago

Love that Squiggle too, it’s stuck in my brain ever since I first saw it in your beautiful home!

4 years ago
Reply to  Lea

Hey, I don’t think it was linked above, but I bet that squiggle is by Katie Gong. Her stuff is beautiful!

4 years ago

I just noticed these “new“ Mountain House pics on Lulu and Georgia!

4 years ago

Loving these ideas! A clean, simple, earthy and huge bird nest painting or print would be great in a gallery wall or on its own (especially on a textural wall, like stone or wood)! See some here:

Paige Cassandra Flamm
4 years ago

These are all awesome ideas! I need to implement this on a few blank walls in our house!


4 years ago

Thank you for this reminder to look beyond framed art for the walls. We just moved into a new house with tall ceilings and huge walls and you can only do so many large framed prints/gallerywalls/picture ledges. We’ve got 3 large walls that are blank right now and through some exploring here, through your ‘think outside the frame’ post I found a small tapestry from Burke Decor and a darling quilt from a local company that’ll come brighten us. Well timed. Thank you!!

4 years ago

Here’s a question – when you buy the best vintage wall hangings, how do you get the smell out? Am I the only one that has run into this? I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on some of the coolest finds…

4 years ago

Can you tell me about the oversized wooden bead looking things in the first picture? I love that room makeover and have been wondering about that wall piece. Thanks!

4 years ago
Reply to  tricia

I believe Emily Bowser found them at a flea market (??) but it’s actually just a buoy line…like the kind that lives in a body of water, and she hung it up as art…SO smart!

4 years ago

LOVE the baby Charlie photobomb in the second photo. What a little cutie!

4 years ago

Baby Charlie! So adorable. The ribbon art is my favorite on this page.

4 years ago

My favorite wall covering is a Shinto Wedding kimono. It’s huge. And commands the room. And is a great memory from our first trip to Japan. I’ve used a Bedouin dress and an indigo hand printed cloth.

How about vintage clothing?

4 years ago

One thing I’ve NEVER had a problem with is what to put on my walls. But apparently it IS a thing for a lot of people as I’ve seen when I’m out walking after it’s dark enough for people to have their lights on but haven’t pulled their curtains yet.

Good public service!

4 years ago

Another idea….
Duct tape + banana
May need to refresh weekly!

4 years ago
Reply to  Susie

LOL. Unbelievable, right?

4 years ago

How to hang/attach the squiggle, ribbon sculpture and other non-framed items if mounting tape is not strong enough?