Etsy UK and Ireland Design Awards 2016

One of my to dos on a very long list of to dos is a gallery wall behind my favourite sideboard in our lounge. I look longingly at the beautiful photos on Pinterest but have always felt (which is going to sound ridiculous) a little intimidated of committing to such a big design statement. 

We talk about how we all go through a real cycle with artwork in our home. You start with posters and prints as a teenager, adorn your walls with fantasy crushes and people you'll probably never meet then as you get older, perhaps get married you fill your home with photos of you. We had photos of us in every room, our wedding, holidays, even the downstairs cloakroom had a montage of beach photos... again of us. And then the boys came along and they dominated our artwork. 

But then as we hit our mid thirties we became more confident in our interiors style and the family photos became smaller, in simpler frames along the mantlepiece and window frames and more original pieces and prints from our travels started to populate our walls. It's funny how it goes almost full circle, as you get older you might invest in pieces of art from a gallery, feel terribly grown up when you take something to be framed at the local print shop, with a little old man behind the counter whose perfected the art of bespoke framing over the last 40 years, and then as you get much older your walls become crowded with photos of family again, grandchildren, school photos given as gifts for Christmas and birthdays.

I have in mind to flood the stairway with black and white photos after my sister started a beautiful photo gallery up their stairs but for our lounge I think I'll keep the photos to the window ledges. 


Image credits: 1 Urban Outfitters 2 HGTV Emily Henderson3 We are Scout

I think the artwork you choose depends on the room itself. What you use it for, who uses it the most and what feeling you want the artwork to evoke. I guess you'd call our lounge a traditional sitting room. It feels like a more formal space than the family living area in the open plan living and dining room across the hallway. When we moved in we lifted the old carpets and found the original herringbone wood floor that is begging to be professionally sanded and polished. All in good time my lovely floor, once the new radiators are in I'll be right on you! And I love the idea of an eclectic mix of prints to balance the traditional heavy wood flooring and the dark wood beams across the ceiling and the inglenook fireplace. Fortunately the internet is bursting with inspiration! I LOVE hanging frames to break up the straight lines and give a wall a more playful feel and I also love bigger prints displayed together.

Fill the space you have!

Little prints can look so lost on a big wall, so I always look to use larger glass frames and mounts to give relatively inexpensive prints a more luxurious feel. It's like triangular cut sandwiches, I can't put my finger on quite why they taste nicer but they do. And the same goes for mounting your artwork. It makes it appear more expensive, more deserving of room to breathe before you envelope it with a frame. 

Image credit: 1 Stories / 2 Line Klein 

So the question is do you go for matching frames a la Sarah Sherman Samuel and My Domaine? Do you mix and match but in the same colour? I don't know why I've found it all so overwhelming but when you are talking about 5,6 maybe 7 or more pieces of art it adds up?

Part of me loves the idea of a very military style wall, prints from the same series all uniform in size and shape and framed in an identical fashion but then the other part of me adores the idea of highlighting the different types of media I love, photographic prints alongside watercolours and illustrations. 

Whilst I am not necessarily a fan of complete unity in the frames or layout, I do love the idea of a theme to a gallery wall. To have a general subject matter that ties each print together. I knew I wanted a botanical theme to this part of the room and although we have some other more contemporary artwork as well as family photos on the other walls, I imagined this side of the room to be much more curious. 

But curious collections generally take time to put together. And I am not that patient! My absolute one stop shop for artwork is Etsy. For years I've browsed through pages and pages and seen more and more freelance artists pop up with their own Etsy shops. I love to decorate with blue which I find quite hard to find. There's scores of cushions and throws but prints and affordable art is much more limited. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Within 5 minutes on Etsy I had found the most beautiful prints. A large vivid Iris print from BlueShedStudio, a hand drawn opium poppy illustration from Victoria Clare Gray and a beautiful blue feathers watercolour print for £7 from Quantum Prints.


The big difference with buying from Etsy sellers is the extra attention to detail. The handwritten notes of thanks, the little cards with a simple message, tied up with string or sealed with patterned tape. And don't you think that the mountboard makes such a difference? I went to my local printing/camera shop who offers a framing service and they cut the boards while I waited for between £5 and £7. Now I have two prints that fit standard 16 by 20 inch frames that I can buy from most high street home interiors shops.

There are lots of ways to design your gallery wall, Taping paper the size of your prints to the wall, masking it out with washi tape or laying it all out on the floor, and I kept moving mine around, using bluetack to trial different positions to see which complimented each other more naturally.

I've taken the original gold painting by Silke Spingies to be framed professionally and I can't wait to show you my final finished layout. The abstract watercolour print by Eddie and the Giant Peach looks beautiful in the standing frame so I might save that for the sideboard itself next to my favourite jug which I use as a vase for fresh flowers. 

For the first time ever they are inviting sellers to enter the UK and Ireland Etsy Awards!

I love that Etsy are so passionate about their sellers, that they want to shout from the rooftops about the designer maker community and highlight the talent in the UK and Ireland with incredible prizes and a chance to showcase their work at Tent London during the prestigious London Design Festival, retail opportunities with John Lewis and expert business training from The Design Trust.

So if you make something lovely and you fit into one of these categories what are you waiting for?! There are some amazing prices up for grabs including a £10,000 grant for the overall winner! 

  • Home & living.
  • Kids & baby.
  • Fashion & accessories.
  • Etsy New Talent, in partnership with The Design Trust.
  • Retail Star, in partnership with John Lewis.
  • People’s Choice, selected by public vote.
  • Regional awards, the best maker in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

You do need an Etsy shop to enter the Awards but it's easy to apply. You can find full details on the Etsy blog. Applications close at midnight on 28th April 2016. 

Is this you?! What are you waiting for?!

And check back in to see my finished gallery wall :)