Wall-Mounted Wood Art

What do you do with an enormous weird-shaped bare wall?  We have a vaulted ceiling in our family room and had a tall blank wall my wife and I would stare at, and wonder what we could do to make it look better (okay, mostly my wife).  We had to go all the way to Florida to get the inspiration we needed.

While visiting my brother in Florida we decided to take a tour of the model home in their development.  We noticed many of the rooms had moldings on a wall used to frame art or photos like this:

Now we knew what to do with our giant bare wall!  I cut and nailed up some pieces of leftover trim to create the frame.  Then I inserted a piece of plywood into the framed opening.  (I thought the wood texture would look cool, and that it would provide some backing for mounting the artwork).

We painted the plywood blue with the leftover paint we had from painting some accents walls in the adjacent dining room and kitchen.  I painted the trim white to match the rest of the moldings in our house.  Then we mounted some wrought iron wall art Desiree picked out from one of her favorite stores-Rod Works.

When we got it all finished we stepped back to take a look and…

….we hated it.  It looked terrible. I didn’t like the wood texture of the plywood, the colors all seemed wrong, and it just wasn’t “us”.  Desiree returned all the wrought iron, and months passed while we deliberated what the next attempt would be.

We sure got some funny comments from visitors during those months like… “oh, that’s interesting” or “whoa, what are you going to do with that?”.  It almost would have been worth it to just leave it that way for the enjoyment of seeing the look on people’s faces when they would come over and see it. :)

We lucked out though, because one of the visitors that stopped in was Aunt Kim, visiting from Virginia for our Johnson family reunion.  She happens to be a fantastic interior designer with a very honest and upfront approach.  She said it was the ugliest thing she had ever seen and called it “a big blue blob”.

She also told us how to fix it.  We pulled the plywood down.  We painted the molding black with a crackle base.  (Crackle makes the final coat of paint shrink and crack like it’s been aged showing the base paint color).

I cut a piece of lauan panel board to fit the framed opening.  We painted it white with a blue border surrounding a smaller band of green paint I used for my office walls.  I glued it in place with panel board adhesive using a caulk gun.  When it was done it looked like a picture matte set in a rustic frame.

Now all we needed was the centerpiece.   Desiree and I found it while playing with our dog up the canyon… a really, really gnarly piece of dead tree root.

We took it home and drew a rectangle on our garage floor with a pencil the same size as our “picture matte”.  Then we set the tree root in the rectangle and broke off all the branches that weren’t going to fit.  I held it up on the wall to make sure.

Then we cleaned it, sanded it, stained it (using a dark “Toffee” Minwax stain applied with a rag), and clear coated it (with a spray can of urethane).  I drove a large lag screw into a stud that I used to hang it with some picture hanging wire.

It took a while, but we really like the end result.  An original and very unique piece of wood art framed with crackle-painted trim and painted matte background to set it off.  Now when visitors come over we get comments like, “wow that’s cool, how did you think to do that?”

This has got me thinking… if it took going to Florida to get the inspiration for this project, I wonder what kind of inspiration I could get from going to Hawaii?!  :)

DIY Material Cost Breakdown:

  • trim for the frame ($12)
  • lauan panel board for the matte ($13)
  • panel board adhesive ($3)
  • quart of crackle paint ($24)
  • other paints ($20)
  • quart of Minwax “Toffee” stain ($8)
  • spray can of urethane ($5)
  • lag screw and picture hanging wire ($3)
TOTAL  $88

3 Replies to Wall-Mounted Wood Art

  1. Kim Johnson says:

    Love this article! I really can honestly say that your big blue blob was definitely not the ugliest thing I had ever seen. OK, it was up there with the ugliest. But I love how it turned out and that you trusted me when I suggested that you put a huge root tree thing on your wall. It knew it would fit who you guys are, (way more than the Iron Works stuff in practically everyone’s home in Utah).

    It really is a work of art and the kind that is so stunning because it came from nature!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for you help with it Kim. Anyone who would like to see more of my Aunt Kim’s work can go to http://www.kimjohnsondesigns.net She does some great stuff!

  3. Delisa Hargrove says:

    We would LoVe to find out what kind of inspiration you’ll get from Hawaii ;) Come on over!!! :)

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