Stairway to heaven


Here’s an introduction to my style of DIY. I call it the ‘how to glam things up’ approach rather than the meticulous sanding, re-sanding, waxing, painting and on it goes approach that my husband takes. But he is the son of a carpenter so every job has to be done right and all that malarkey.

We don’t live in a huge house, but there are a lot of stairs. It’s a typically tall thin Victorian terraced house in Brighton. My sister says it has an upstairs/downstairs feel… minus, of course, the servants and the grandees! But stairs are good because it means lots of walls as blank canvases.

#GoBoldandGoHome is my vision for Stylechapel and I take the same view in my home. I’m a bit averse to neutrals so, for the walls, the darker the better. Most of my hallways are painted Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball, apart from one, which is a work in progress. More on that later.

The family portrait gallery

I have just finished two stairway projects. The first is a typical family gallery wall that I wanted to look interesting but, at the same time, feel like it was a never-ending story. I’m Irish – I have a very large family!

I collected these frames over the years from various shops, car boot sales and flea markets. I ignore the colour/finish and look for the shape. It doesn’t matter if the frames are a bit damaged as a couple of coats of paint covers up all manner of woes. And they don’t all need to be an interesting shape. I have included a few cheap plain Ikea frames here and there to fill the smaller gaps.


Gallery Wall

Asymmetry is the name of the game in creating a gallery wall. Forget about lining things up. Just pick your first spot and start, working out and up/down from there. Irregular and mismatched frames help create the overall look.

I painted all these frames with a navy craft paint. It dries super quick and has a great matt finish. I deliberately didn’t do them in Hague Blue. I think a slightly different shade in the same colour palette sets the photos off better. And it’s nice to mix modern with traditional photos as well as colour and black & white.

Top tip: If a family member is visiting, make sure their picture is on the wall. If need be, alternate. That’s what my Dad does, depending on who’s coming to stay!

Frames without pictures

My next project was these empty gold frames. I picked them up at car boot sales and flea markets. Again it’s about finding interesting styles. I wanted elaborate but not perfect. Also think about your walls and avoid heavy frames if they can’t take it. One of our tricks is to use velcro strips to hang the frames. It’s easier than banging nails into the brickwork and means you can position each frame easier. Having said that, I can’t guarantee the paint won’t come off if you need to move them around (we haven’t tried that yet).

Gallery Wall - Gold Frames


With this project we hung the biggest piece first, then positioned the others around it. But again I would favour asymmetry. And I think the gold benefits from a strong colour behind it so it can really pop.

To finish off the look I added a fab lenticular print that I picked up at the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty show at The V&A. The print was under £10 and I bought a cheap gold frame online. McQueen looks very majestic and splendid. Quite fitting really.

Gold Frames in Hallway


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