February 21, 2011

Displaying Artwork

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , , at 8:42 am by dotcomdecorator

The point of displaying artwork should be to create a focal point and enhance your space, not to simply cover a wall. Regardless if you have one favored piece, or an eclectic, extensive collection, the following are tips for displaying art in your space.

When hanging items on a wall, aim for roughly eye level, based on the primary residents/visitors to your space. Eye level for a 6’ tall person is considerably higher than for a 5’ tall one! As such, hang items in a children’s room slightly lower on the wall.  When hanging a picture above an item of furniture such as a piano or above a mantle, hang the picture comfortably in the space available.

Aim for consistent wall height between furniture and wall decor throughout a room. Stand in the center of the room and turn slowly.  If the eye has to move up and down to follow the varied heights along the wall, there is too much “movement” which disallows the artwork to be the focal point.

Create groupings; odd numbers work best.  This trick is a favorite of mine for incorporating a piece that may be different from a space’s overall style and helps creates cohesiveness. For example to display a Native American painting in a loft filled with modern furnishings and artwork, place the painting on the wall, then add two other elements near the base of the painting, i.e. on a table or use a tall vase, etc., thus creating a grouping of three elements. When selecting these complimentary pieces, try to incorporate colors or textures from the adjacent painting, as well as the overall design of the space.

To display a large piece in a small space, your options are to let the piece “own” the space, or to minimize its impact. If your intent is to minimize, consider leaning it against a wall instead of hanging it and let it serve as a backdrop to a seating area or table—allowing some obstruction of the full piece. If the piece is the focal point, keep accessories and furnishings simple to avoid competing for focus. Other options for display include the use of an easel, or to suspend the painting from the ceiling to create a room divider (you will need a way to camouflage the back if you do this).

I encounter many clients who hesitate when it comes to hanging or displaying artwork. I routinely apply a couple of tactics to help alleviate these fears. The first is to have the client express his or her feelings about their pieces: Do they absolutely love them? Do they clearly represent the client’s tastes? Do they feel compelled to hang pieces because of the sentimental or monetary investment? Once we are clear on this aspect, we move to the actual placement.

Often the fear of actually displaying artwork is in getting it wrong and/or putting holes in the wall. There are some easy, stress-alleviating options to work through this. One of my favorites is to use Posterboard and cut it into the size of the proposed artwork, then hang on the wall with double-sided tape. When possible, I prefer to purchase colored sheets that are similar to the colors of the artwork. Another option is to use newspaper, but you risk smudges on the wall! The use of painter’s tape to mask out the size, shape and location is also an option, but I find it a little discerning to simply look at bold border shapes. There are also templates one can purchase and these are great, especially if you are planning an installation with multiple pieces. Find what works for you and “try on” your placement before committing!

One final caveat…your  choice of artwork and its placement should ultimately be an expression of  you! If the above guidelines help, then use them; otherwise throw out the rules and do what feels best to you!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator


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