Displaying Artwork: Dos and Don’ts

July 01, 2018

Subject Matter in Your Art

As a general rule, we always suggest that family pictures go in more personal spaces, such as a bedroom or even a hallway leading to (a) bedroom(s).  The more public places in your home/office would include: the foyer, living room, family room, kitchen, dining room, office and waiting room. These are the perfect places for landscapes (of places you’ve been or would like to go to), modern art, florals, wildlife, city skylines, trees/forests, water scenes, nature close ups, sunrises and sunsets, sports, transportation, and the four seasons.  In feng shui terms, the master bedroom is a place for photos of pairs of things and pictures of you and your spouse/significant other, rather than the lonely figure from a Georgia O’Keefe painting.  (If you want to be/stay single, then a single figure is fine to place in your bedroom.)

The Feng Shui Advantage

Another consideration for a feng shui consultant is to use art as “cures” (solutions) for problems that exist for a person in their home/office.  As examples, you could add that picture of a wave coming toward you at the ocean beach in your Career gua, add certificates of achievement in your Fame gua, or add personal pictures of you and your spouse/significant other in your Partnership gua.


Don’t Place Your Art Too High on the Wall

This is a pet peeve of most interior designers, and ranks up there with 2 + 2 = 5 plastered on a preschool white board for teacher and parents alike.

Find the center of the piece of art, and then measure the inhabitants height to their eyes.  Most people are between 57” and 72”.  That’s where the middle of the art should sit on your wall. (Go lower than you think you should- error on the side of lower on the wall.)   There are a bunch of You-Tube videos out there that show how to hang art, so check them out.  One formula I find helpful is from ApartmentTherapy.com:

Step 1: Measure and lightly mark 57" (or whatever you decide is the right height) on the wall, measuring up from your floor. 

Step 2: Measure artwork and divide by 2 (this gives you the center)

Step 3: Measure top of your picture to the tightened wire (or wherever you''ll hanging it from). This should be a pretty small amount, depending on your frame or canvas.

Step 4: Subtract that "tight wire" amount from number you figured out in step 2. This will tell you how far above 57" your hook should go.

Step 5: Lightly mark wall just above 57" with the "to the hook" amount you figured out in step 4.

Step 6: Hang that art with confidence!

Other Considerations on Height of Art

Hang a piece of art on a fireplace, above a sofa, or above a bed about 4-7” above the mantel, sofa back, or headboard.

Hang art in a dining room, living room or waiting room lower, as you’ll be sitting when you appreciate it.

Center the Art Horizontally (Unless There’s A Very Good Reason to Not)

The top picture above looks far more balanced than the lower example.

Hide the cords on your flatscreen TV by putting them inside the wall if necessary.

Don’t Place Tiny Pictures on an Expansive Wall

Hanging art has a lot to do with proportion in interior design, and proportion is definitely wrong in the photo above.  


Placing Tiny Pictures

If you have a very small piece of art (say 3” x 4” or even smaller) that you really find special, then consider matting it with a much larger mat and simple frame (12” x 16”) that takes your eye to the focal point.  Then hang that piece on a proportional wall (perhaps an 18” wide wall) where one can stand a foot away and appreciate the art. 

If you have a 8 foot long sofa, it is best to apply the 2/3 rule and place a picture that’s over 5’ (60”) wide and 3’ (36”) tall.

If you don’t have a suitably sized piece of art, you can always do a grouping of 3 or more pieces of art.  (Our eyes like odd numbers, so 3, 5, and 7 are considerations.)  In this case, using 36” wide butcher paper as your backdrop on an open space on the floor, place pictures in an arrangement on the floor.  Try to space most pieces an equal distance from one another.  Take pictures of at least 3 different arrangements you like, and then decide which to use in your final selection.

If you love our feathered friends, the grouping above left features drawings of birds. It works nicely in a very symmetrical layout.  While the color varies from one drawing to the next, the size, framing and matting of each print contributes to the unity of the whole.


Don’t Fill Up Every Wall with Art

If you fill virtually every inch of your space with art, the effect very likely will feel overdone- possibly frenetic or manic and not at all relaxing.  If you are a collector, then change out your artwork seasonally.  There needs to be some space between art, just like there needs to be rests in music.

This room feels too crowded with too much everywhere, including the walls.  It is not unlike music, which needs rests within each melody to create true beauty.  Negative space is important to maintain to create a beautiful interior.

By contrast, this room’s decor feels incomplete without any art on the walls. 

In conclusion

Do you need help with your artwork?  Transformations for Interiors is ready to step in and assist you with the hanging of your artwork to create the space you envisioned when you built/bought your home.  Check out this website for the opportunity under the Interior Design tab, and we will be happy to help you.

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