Simple Rules For Displaying Art

10 Aug 2010
In design, art can be the focal point and bring together the elements of a room. If showcased properly, it can also enhance the decor's colour, style, and even furniture arrangement.
Common mistakes made when hanging artwork include improper height (too high or too low) and improper proportions (a small picture is positioned on a wall that dwarfs it, or a large painting is placed in a constricted or confined space). Another pitfall is when the art doesn't complement the room's style or space.

What to Hang Where

There aren't any stringent rules for choosing the type of art to hang in a particular room, but there are some loose guidelines. When looking to adorn a blank wall, opt for original art where possible. Choose art or photographs that accent or complement specific aspects of a room's design. Colour or style should be a consideration when deciding what to hang where. If a framed piece is contemporary and features bold colours and stark contrast, it will dominate a room and work well in a modern or minimalist setting. If the style of furniture is fussy and cluttered, rustic or too traditional, the art will be jarring. Yet, mixing contemporary, Pop or abstract art with classic furniture styles can be a stunning combination, particularly if the art has a gilt frame with museum mounting- the setting for the art makes for a pleasing contrast and complements the decor.
 
Where to Hang Art

When you approach or enter a room, notice the areas of walls that are more visible than others and where the sight lines are. Most large rooms have a number of sight lines, depending on your position within the room. Another consideration in hanging artwork is its relationship to the space. A small room with low ceilings or a large room with high ceilings can determine what size of canvas, or how much art and in what arrangement, you mount.

To properly display art, consider the proposed wall space and determine that the artwork's proportions, both vertically and horizontally, are right. (If the artwork is small and is dwarfed by negative space or the wall area around it, it will look ridiculous.)

Smaller, subtler artwork should be hung where it can best be appreciated, in intimate settings, while large canvases need an expanse of blank wall.

Use negative space to frame artwork. Consider the wall as a dramatic backdrop and paint it a rich matte suede hue to offset the painting and its frame.

An alternative is to group several works close together to create clusters opposite or adjacent to a wide, white blank wall space. If you are hanging a collection of pictures together and it's grouped artfully, the collection as a whole will have the same visual impact as one large canvas.

If you only have shelf space, leaning framed works on surfaces or even against the floor can look great. Remember, walls are not merely spots to fill, but places where you can express who you really are.