Allegro AJC Article – Displaying Art

Over the years, I’ve had numerous questions from clients regarding the display of artwork. Since I was recently contacted by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution to do an article on the subject, I am passing on these thoughts and guidelines:

  • First of all, balance and scale are of prime importance when it comes to hanging pictures on walls. Large paintings should not be larger than the piece of furniture underneath them, and small paintings or prints should not be hung in isolation on a large wall.
  • In framing your art, I highly recommend triple matting for true elegance – though double matting can be acceptable in some cases. And, of course, color coordination is key. Never make your top (outer) mat the same width as the frame – vary the sizes. Do you have small prints or photographs that look boring? Use wide top mats to increase size and add interest. You can even mix black and white photos with color photos as long as you keep the top mats and frames the same to create a sense of unity.
  • Don’t hang art too close together or too far apart (2-4” apart is a good guideline) — or too high or too low. Respect the time-honored rule to hang artwork at eye level (i.e., hang art with the upper center of the picture at eye level for the average person).
  • Don’t be afraid of a blank wall – that in itself can be artistic. Don’t feel obligated to hang art on every wall – it will make the room appear too busy or too cluttered.
  • A hodgepodge of art that you’ve collected over time can be effectively integrated and become “museum worthy” by mixing materials and colors, and by combining them with mirrors, tapestries, decorative brackets, plates, and even flea market pieces. The frames and mats don’t have to match — again keeping in mind size, balance and scale.
  • When planning a collection of pictures over a sofa, first arrange them on the floor and trace them on craft paper. Cut-out the shapes and then arrange them on the wall with painter’s tape. If you have 8-10 pieces to hang, keep your spacing anywhere from 2-4” apart. Group small and large similar pieces together to make a greater impact.
  • And finally, hanging art on a staircase presents a challenge to most people. Usually the simple rule to follow is to hang the art along the same angle as the stairs. Here again, weight and balance come into play. If you have larger or heavier frames, they will look best near the very top and bottom of the arrangement with medium to small pieces grouped in between. Also, be careful not to display maps and manuscripts that invite reading, or artwork that draws a person’s attention to small details when descending or ascending the stairs. This creates a safety hazard and falls have resulted.