There really are no rules for hanging art. What really count is “the eye of the beholder.” (Yours!)
Pleasing wall arrangements follow the same principles of design that you follow for placing furniture in a room.
One of those principles is balance, which refers to the distribution of the visual weight within a display.
An arrangement that lacks balance may seem too top or bottom heavy or as if the side is falling.
A symmetrical arrangement where each half is the mirror image of the other is the most straight forward and probably easiest to achieve.
To achieve balance when working with a group of pieces of different sizes and scale, imagine a grid on the wall of four quadrants making sure each area is equal visually.
Artwork and other objects that you hang on your walls can demand that certain pieces be displayed by themselves.
Anything large or over scaled will need its own space to show off. Artwork that is dark, bright, or boldly patterned will appear heavier and bigger than an object that is small or pale.
It is best to display these weightier items next to similarly weighty elements in the room like furniture or architectural features.
It is also important to leave enough bare (negative) space around the pieces you are hanging for your pieces to breathe and for the eye to focus.
The repetition of a single object can create a dramatic display. This method is effective for an inexpensive show of ordinary items (wallpaper samples, seed packets, even pages from a magazine) of the same size and framed identically.
If the subject matter is the same, hanging art of identically framed items in a grid creates an impact and should be hung closer together than pieces of different sizes and shapes.
The unity of a display of this manner catches your attention and draws you in for a closer look.
Before actually putting the first nail in the wall, work out your arrangement on the floor. Generally the largest item starts in the center. Working your way out, play around with the composition by seeing how each piece relates to each other. You may choose to use paper cutouts.
Balance the smaller pieces on the larger either vertically or horizontally. Place them close together, about two inches apart, so when you stand away from the arrangement it forms a whole.
Tips for Hanging Art
Incorporate other elements into an arrangement like brackets, mirrors or a collection of plates.
Plates also work well for filling in a narrow or oddly shaped space like over a doorway or on the side of a tall piece of furniture.
Hang art 60 – 66″ from the floor for “eye level” to most and hang so the bottom of the artwork is 5 – 8″ above a piece of furniture.
Consider color but keep in mind that your art doesn’t have to match your sofa.
Frame your art for art’s sake and not for the room. The proper frame will work almost anywhere you want to hang it and gives you freedom to move things around.
Place picture framing wire about a third of the way down each side.
As a rule, the mat size for prints and drawings should be 3 inches wide but do take into consideration the size of the artwork.
Use two nails to hang a piece if you don’t want it to move, placed about 5 inches in from the frame’s edge.
Using bumpers on the bottom corners will protect your walls.
Hang frames directly on top of the paper cutouts (if you used them) then pull out the paper.
When hanging art in a hallway only hang on one side.
Hang art on patterned wallpaper if the art is of a different scale and is visually stronger than the background, with a mat to distinguish the image from the wall.
But if you are not into hanging at all, prop a large piece against a wall or layer small over a larger piece on a mantel.
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