Monday, July 22, 2024

Home is Where Your Art Hangs

By Ashley Stephens, 25 May, 2016
  • Home is Where Your Art Hangs

Make the most of your creative investment by accentuating how it’s seen in your home


A picture may be worth a thousand words but if you’re distracted by how high it’s hung or how many others surround it, it may be hard to appreciate its value. Whether you’re investing in a timeless piece or displaying your most treasured family moments, your works of art are worth taking the time to hang right.

The oft used rule of thumb is art should be hung at eye-level; however, it’s a rule worth breaking – not everyone’s eyes are at the same level and neither are their ceilings. Resist the urge to install your art directly in front of you and, instead, visually cut your wall vertically into four quadrants. Going from top to bottom, aim to hang pieces in the third quadrant. This guideline works well for rooms with higher ceilings.

More specifically, most experts agree artwork should be hung centred around 57 inches from the floor, the typical average seen in most galleries.

Keep in mind furniture and other home decor accessories may interfere with the recommended measurements; you’ll have to consider the placement of photos in reference to what is already in the room. Keep any artwork about eight inches above couches or chairs to avoid hitting your head. Use existing wainscoting as a natural border and adjust your calculations accordingly.

Besides being too high, hanging art too small in relation to the wall it’s hung on is one of the most common mistakes homeowners make. Engage the entire area so as not to allow the negative space to overwhelm the artwork; cover at least two thirds of the occupied space with art or photos. Slightly too big will look better than slightly too small. Art should generally be the same shape and orientation as the wall it is trying to fill.

When hanging more than one piece, keep two to four inches between frames, relative to how large or small your works may be.

According to Reza at KeenART Media Ltd., there are no standard rules to follow but “balance, safety and matching with the background or wall colours are very important” when deciding how and where to hang a work of art.

Art can be hung in several statement making ways. A grid of frames doesn’t detract from individual photos but is pleasing to the eye on its own. Similarly, a gallery style display with many works randomly radiating around a larger or weightier centred piece can have quite the impact.

Popular as gallery walls may be, it’s easy to go overboard and use too many frames on one wall cautions Reza. “Not matching colours or multiple frame styles side by side” can also detract from the original artwork, she says.

You don’t have to group art together at all depending on your space. Allow ornate frames to take centre stage on their own or look for a large piece of art that maximizes the space for maximum viewing pleasure.

Mix mediums, colours and styles for the most visual engagement. Try an assortment of photographs, abstract art, landscapes and paintings in both black and white and various colours and avoid grouping all works of the same style together.

If traditional hanging styles don’t suit your space, add shelves and lean frames against them, hang works from the ceiling with decorative wire or rope, or layer pieces of varying shapes and sizes along a mantle.

How you frame, mat or mount your art will also add or detract from its visual impact. A neutral combination, such as black frames and white mats, creates a cohesive look throughout your space without the worry that mismatched framing will take away from the work on display. On the contrary, each piece may need to be treated individually to ensure the art is enhanced and not overpowered by your framing choice.

Art, especially masterpieces made with little hands, doesn’t always need to be hung in frames. Consider clipboards for rotating children’s pieces or use ribbons, wires and clothespins for a more creative look.

Wherever you place your art doesn’t have to be its permanent home. Just as you may enjoy moving your furniture every few months or updating your accessories every season, change your art every once and a while for a fresh and inspired look.

An easy way to ensure you enjoy the look of your framed photos or pieces of art is to take a photo of it once it’s hung. If it was a photo of someone else’s house or a room in a magazine, would you think the art is hung appropriately?

Just as art is a representation of one’s own journey, story or aesthetic, how you hang it can be just as unique. Don't be afraid to get creative, ignore all the rules and let your art inspire how it is hung.


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