Dear Readers,

Every other week, I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:

How can we fill a 16-foot blank wall in our family room? We already have shelving on the opposite wall where we put our television. Our house is ranch style and rustic.

Since your family room is rustic, the first thing that comes to mind is Stikwood, a product made from reclaimed and sustainable wood. Basically, it’s peel-and-stick planking that comes in different sizes and stains. You could cover the full wall in these planks, just as you would wallpaper, but Stikwood would have more texture and presence. You can still hang art on it or let it stand on its own.

Or, you could frame large pieces of wallpaper, grasscloth, or fabric (maybe burlap). In your case, I’d make three identical pieces, about three feet by five feet. You might add iron wall sconces between the frames.

Even though you already have shelving, what about one single shelf on the blank wall? A very long, floating one (i.e., no visible support brackets), around 10 feet long by eight inches wide with a lip.

You could set a series of photos and art on it, all in the same color and style frame but different sizes. The lip will hold them in place so that you won’t have any nail holes into your wall. You just display your images at an angle. This will look more interesting and will also give you flexibility in moving them around.

I’d make the shelf out of wood, but in a different style house, it could be a different material. For instance, acrylic would work in a modern family room. If you have enough space, add two long, backless benches with seat cushions (to add color) under this long shelf.

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Hanging art on the wall will work, of course, but it should be strategically selected and arranged. Sometimes a random gallery fits the bill but I like more regular patterns such as stacked rows and columns mounted above each other. When you mount in such geometric patterns, the grouping, itself, becomes a piece of art.

Using diptychs or triptychs (one image separated into a series of two or three pieces) is a smart way to take up more space than a single piece of art. Also, keep your eye out for large screens and wood or iron carvings. You can find gems of interesting items at Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley.

Three-dimensional art adds an interesting twist. David Ward, of Sticks & Stones, created the twig light fixtures at Solage Resort Spa and Restaurant. He accepts commissions on wall art of any size. His website shows many examples of his work.

Lastly, how can I not mention the many options you have using wine barrels. You might find a creative craftsman to give you some ideas. One might be to glue a few staves side by side to form a slight “C”. Attach the back of the C to the wall and mount something interesting in the concave interior.

Have a question? Send to with “Ask a Designer” in the subject line.

Patti L. Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at call (707) 322-6522; or email