When my husband and I decided to move in together one of the most exciting things to us was the opportunity to decorate our own place, with our own things, and with our own taste. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Even when we had a similar sense of style it is NOT easy to always agree on everything. To make things harder, we are both graphic designers with a very defined sense of style. For the most part tho, we tend to like the same things.
Tom has always had an obsession with Josef Müller-Brockman and when it came time to design our office room there was no question some type of homage had to be paid. Not only did he reproduce to an exact science the original set of 4 of his Opera posters (too pricy for us at the time!), but decided they were going to be hung on a wall that replicated his famous book Grid Systems in Graphic Design.
Tough task you ask? not really. If you have yourself a ruler and some vinyl tape you can do it. The toughest part was probably covering the Barney purple that the previous owners had chosen. When we first moved in the walls were not only purple, but the carpet was pink. Yes, they even had a bright green leather couch in there. Amazing right? It was quickly and mutually decided that the retro decor had to go. We painted the wall Orange Nectar (2013-20) from Benjamin Moore.
Once the walls were repainted and the floor installed it was time for some measuring.
You will need:
- Vinyl tape
- Frames or canvases
- A level
- Grid Systems in Graphic Design book or image of it
- Patience and tact
You need to know what you’re going to hang. Be it artwork canvases or frames you will need to figure out their measurements. We purchased thr Ribba Ikea frame in white.
You need to purchase some vinyl tape. Since this is a temporary home for us we did not want to spend the time to mask and tape the wall. Plus, since the lines are so thin we ran the risk of them bleeding. We got vinyl tape or auto pin striping. Its 1/8” in width.
You need to measure your wall and make some calculations. We had two wall sockets to deal with. You could paint them, but again, this was a temporary solution. You need to figure out how many rows and how many columns. If you don’t like math, this could be the hardest part for you. Figure out where you want the artwork to hang and make the grid based on that. They are, and should be, your main focal point.
Our advice: start by making your overall border. Next, work on spacing and placing your vertical lines. After each set of vertical lines, double check your measurements by holding your frames into each place. You really want to ensure that the spacing is bang on before you put the horizontal lines on. If you want a break from your tape measure, you can use the frames as a template to get it done faster. Lastly, position the sets of lines that will frame the artwork on the top and bottom, and finish with the remaining horizontal lines where exact measurements aren’t as critical.
Mark the wall with pencil, not marker, so you can wipe it easily. Tom had his brother help him out. It is really a two person job. You need to be exact (it is a grid afterall) and a level. So make sure you have all the necessary tools handy.
Carefully stick the vinyl tape to the wall. It can get tricky, especially with such long pieces of tape. Make sure you have some help and tons of patience. Once you do a couple you get the hang of it. You may also use painter’s tape as a guide.
Applying the vinyl is fairly easy because you can reposition it if needed, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For this, you really need two people to do it well. One person at each end to hold the vinyl on your penciled marks. Tom’s brother was kind enough to help him out. You will need to add a bit of tension to the pin-stripe to get it to apply straight to the wall, but be cautious not to pull too hard. Pulling the vinyl tight gave us nice sharp lines, but when we stretched some of the vinyl, once applied they started to contract and peeled off the wall. You need to find the balance between taught and too tight. Once you have a line up on the wall, it is a good idea to use something smooth, or your finger to burnish the tape to the wall. Our wall, like most, had a slight bit of texture and we wanted to make sure the vinyl conformed to the texture and had as much surface area firmly touching the adhesive.
Another tip: only put vinyl where you need to! We could have easily required another roll of pin striping, but remember, you don’t actually have to apply the vinyl where it is hidden behind your picture frames.
With the vinyl applied, the last thing to do was mount the frames into position. You can mount these anyway you want but we found it was handy to use a method that would allows us to move the prints back and forth. We mounted 2 long self-tapping concrete screws into the wall for each frame (this required a hammer drill, a lot of noise, and resulted in building security at our door attempting to shut down our 10:00pm project!). The screws were inset by about an inch from the top corners of the frames, and we just had the inside edge of the frame “hang” on the screw heads. As opposed to conventional frames that get mounted on a wire hanging from one point in the center, our method gave us the ability to simply slide the frames back and forth on the screws to get perfect alignment with the grid. You have less flexibility with a single mount, and you will need to spend a lot of time with trial and error to get the mounting point at the right height to line up with your horizontal lines.
Sit back and enjoy.