A GUIDE TO DISPLAYING ART IN YOUR HOME
Hanging art in your home is one of the easiest ways to inject your personality into a space, and also makes a place feel more lived in. Knowing how to display artwork so it looks ‘right’ can be tricky, but there are a few things you can keep in mind that will make it a little easier. Of course, it’s your home and you can do whatever you damn well please, but these are just guides to help anyone who feels like they have no idea where to start and could use a few pointers before committing to drilling into walls.
The most obvious place to start is where to hang art. I’m talking location, we’ll get to height and spacing and all that in a minute. If you’re like me, you don’t always have a place in mind when you buy a piece of artwork so you just have to figure out when you get home. Unless you like the cluttered look, my first piece of advice is that you don’t need to fill every bit of available wall space up with artwork. If you have more artwork than you do wall space you can group it together on one wall. Bare walls give your eyes a place to rest and can make just as much impact as a wall covered in beautiful art. As a general rule hanging art or one or two walls in a room is enough, not including open living spaces.
As far as which rooms to hang it in, don’t forget to give some love to those less lived in rooms. The kitchen, laundry, bathroom, even the good old water closet can benefit from a little something up on the walls. Consider placing artwork in unexpected places too, like on a nightstand in the bedroom, in a kitchen scullery, or even on the floor, leaning up against the wall. Take these ideas and experiment in your home to see what looks best to you.
Once you’ve nailed down where you want to hang your artwork there’s more things to take into consideration.
When you are hanging art on a bare wall by itself, and by that, I mean with no furniture underneath it, the rule is to hang theartwork so that the centre of it is at eye level, 145 – 150cm from the ground. There are exceptions to this rule if your ceiling height is really tall you can hang art higher, or if the ceiling is low. Or depending on your height. If you are a tall or short family, hang your art at your eye height, it’s your house after all.
When you are hanging a row of artwork that is different heights, align in the centre not the top or the bottom. Even when you take all the art around the room into account, keep all artwork aligned in centre for a more cohesive look. If want to display your art vertically by stacking two or more pieces on top of each other, look at the pieces as a whole and hang the middle of the collection at eye level, unless the peices are quite large and then I would place the top piece at eye level and hang the rest below.
HANGING ARTWORK OVER FURNITURE
When you want to hang artwork over furniture throw they eye level rule out the window. In this case it looks better if the art and furniture relate to each other. You achieve this by hanging the artwork about 10 – 20cm above the furniture, this will connect them. This works for large pieces over a bed or sofa, but where art is placed over a low sideboard and hanging it 20cm above would leave it sitting too low, you can follow the eye level rule and connect the pieces in a different way. Placing a vase flowers, or some other tall décor piece will connect the elements visually.
The width of artwork should be about two thirds the width of the furniture , never wider than the furniture. You can also centre artwork between two pieces of furniture to connect them visually.
One of the biggest mistakes I see when people hang art in there homes is when they hang a set of pieces too far apart. When hanging a collection of artwork they should only be about 6 – 8cm apart. Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t try to spread them out to cover the entire wall. This just ends up looking odd. Treat the pieces as if they were one piece and keep them together. Trust me.
CONSIDER OTHER ELEMENTS IN THE ROOM
Furniture isn’t the only element of a room that needs to be taken into account when hanging your artwork. How you move around your house and which walls are visable from different angles will help guide you in finding the best place to hang artwork. For example if you happen to have a blank wall at the end of a long hallway this is a perfect place to hang something you love. You could choose to hang art under the stairs and organise images in a stair pattern to mimic the line of the stairs. Sometimes windows can help to balance a piece of art hung asymmetrically.
Keep in mind the function of the room too. You don’t want to hang a piece of art where a door is going to open and hit it, or hang a piece too close to a window only to draw the curtain back and cover your beautiful artwork.
PLAY WITH SCALE
The scale of the artwork in relation to the room, or the wall it’s going is important to think about. Too small and your artwork can look looks lost, too big and it can look out of place. (think artwork that has no wall space on the sides, or apiece that is way bigger than the furniture piece it sits above) If you’re ever in doubt it’s best to have something that is a little too big than a little too small. If you want to create interest place an artwork that is deliberately out of scale, but this can be tricky to get right if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you want a smaller piece on a larger wall you can add a matt board and a larger frame to fill the wall. If you have lot’sof small pieces of art you can consider grouping them together to cover a larger space, or you can frame a smaller piece with wide matt board and a larger frame so it appears bigger.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO HANG ARTWORK
As with anything in your home it’s all about experimenting and figuring out what works best for you. There’s lots of options for displaying artwork that you can try to take your space to the next level.
If you have a large area of wall and nothing on it, consider looking for an oversized piece formaximum impact. We’re talking almost floor to ceiling. Go big or go home.
Picture ledges are great because you can change up your display whenever you like. You can even use them to display books as art is a really great option in a kids room, or an office.
If you have a collection of art that is all the same size a grid wall is a great option. The uniform layout creates a striking focal point in any room.
If you have a big collection of artworks of different sizes, or even shapes, a gallery wall is a great option. Group your collection together in a random but cohesive display to create a beautiful display of your artwork. Don’t forget to keep everything about 4-6cm apart and place the larger images first to round the collection. A great tip here is to plan the arrangement on the floor first to make sure it works, alternatively you can cut out paper the same size as your art and then tape them to the wall to work out where everything should go.
Leaning artwork against the wall is a really great option. It works for really large pieces, or small pieces on a shelf or mantle. You can also lean art pieces in front of each other to add depth. (see picture above)
FRONT AND CENTRE
This one is obvious and probably the most common style. A large print or painting centred over a bed, mantle, sofa or other furniture. This always looks great and is hard to get wrong.
Rather than hanging artwork in a row horizontally, try hanging it vertically. This is a good option when you have pieces that are different shapes, like a clock over a rectangle frame. This style also looks good when you create a vignette with a low piece of furniture, like a chair.
Change it up a little and hang your artwork off centre. This creates an interesting and more dynamic look. A popular look right now is to hang art over nightstand instead of centred over the bed.
If I’ve missed anything, or you have a more specific question about hanging artwork in your home hit up in the comments, I’m happy to help.
We have a big range of stunning photographic prints available here at Object Union, all from local Perth artists. If you’re inspired to get more goodness on your walls, you can check them out here.