“What makes a home more heartwarming is seeing arts or photographs that tell many stories and experiences. It is one of those decorating ideas that I believe anyone would want to have in their homes. If you have an empty wall at home, then I guess you need to try this.”
An accomplished former art director for Vogue and Vanity Fair (and author of a fascinating book on Alexander Liberman), Charles Churchward reinvented his life with a unique modern home in New Mexico (profiled in Architectural Digest’s October 2014 issue). One of the most eye-catching aspects of the house is how the vast collection of art and photography is displayed on walls that might otherwise look basic. We talked with Churchward about creating gallery walls, how to frame, and where to simply leave a space bare.
Architectural Digest: How do you recommend approaching a blank wall when you have multiple works to hang on it? Where does one begin?
Charles Churchward: I know which works I want to hang in each room, and I usually lay out a good portion of the furniture first. That way I know the lowest I can go on a wall without winding up with an image hiding behind the back of a chair. I can usually imagine where one or two works should be, and I hang those first. Then I work out from there. A grouping needs different scales and juxtapositions of imagery. I constantly use a level, but I don’t do much measuring. I hate when a few frames line up in a salon-style hanging.
AD: Are there any areas in your house where you simply wouldn’t hang photographs?
CC: Even though I have UV filters and thick shades on the windows, utilize rooms with fewer windows, and have paper mats that can stand the light, I studied where the light falls over the course of the day and then filled in the brightest areas in the …