How to arrange artwork on a wall

How to arrange artwork on a wall

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

No home is complete without a piece of art—or many! While mustering up the courage to hang things on those blank walls may feel a bit daunting, you’ll thank yourself when you finally get that gallery wall up and can admire your favorite photos and paintings each and every day. Before you get started, though, keep the following tips in mind. We spoke with designers to gather plenty of do’s and don’ts to consider when it comes to displaying artwork.

Don’t Rush

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Take your time planning out your desired arrangement. “It can be hard to visualize how a combination of art will look on the wall, so it helps to sketch out your plan on graph paper or use a computer program to lay out your art,” designer Adrienne Robideaux says. “Rearrange the pieces on your floor until you love how it looks, then cut out paper the size of each piece of art and hang those onto the wall. This will help you visualize the final result and provides an easy way to measure when you start hanging!”

Compile the Necessary Equipement

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Grab the right equipment—a hammer and nails alone may not cut it. “Two handy tools for hanging art are an electric level and stud finder for heavier pieces,” designer Daniella Hoffer notes. Additionally, she advises, “Make sure you are using the correct mounting hardware and don’t overdo it with heavy duty Sheetrock nails if it’s not necessary—you will end up with bigger holes which could be visible.”

Measure, Measure, Measure

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Space everything out properly. “Allow for at least four inches between frames; any closer and the art pieces can look overcrowded,” designer Stephanie Lindsey notes. “And when pieces are really close, every little imperfection stands out, so it makes it essential to hang everything perfectly level.”

Don’t Be Basic

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Think outside the box a bit when it comes to creating a display. “Blending art and artifacts along a wall, even turning the corner, provides a sense of movement throughout the space,” designer Lucinda Loya shares. “These unique placements and groupings help capture a client’s personality while adding another element to the art’s beauty that can elevate any space.”

Let Your Favorite Pieces Shine

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Go ahead and play favorites. “When arranging wall art, I find it’s always important to start with your favorite piece and build out from there,” designer Lauren Thorup says. “Pay attention to scale and proportion and what you want your eye to see first.”

Use a Variety of Frame Styles

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Vary your frame styles. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match frames,” Thorup adds. “Most homes have a variety of finishes, so I always encourage people to hang what they love and not worry about the rest. It all comes together in the end!”

Don’t Skimp on Size

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Don’t skimp on art size. “I aim for at least 50 percent of the width of whatever is below the piece of art, but in my opinion bigger is almost always better when it comes to art,” designer Lee Harmon Waters explains. “If a work of art is wider than the item, say a sofa, below it, that’s totally cool. Just layer some other objects on either side of the sofa to balance the width—maybe some end tables or a pedestal with a plant or sculpture.”

Don’t Break the Bank

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There’s no need to spend beyond your means to create a designer-worthy setup. “If you cannot find large pieces that you love or can afford, grouping pieces together, even when they don’t match, creates a mass of artwork that can also read as one solid focal point,” Waters says.

Consider Lighting

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Don’t forget about lighting in relation to the artwork you choose. “Think about highlighting the wall art with a picture light or some sconces,” designer Brenna Morgan says. “Make sure any larger ceiling fixture in the room does not obstruct the line of sight to the pictures.”

Hang Art Throughout the Home

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Don’t forget about less obvious rooms when hanging up frames. “I love arranging art in unusual places,” Waters notes. “One of my favorite pieces in my house sits between the toilet tank and a wall cabinet in my en-suite bathroom.” Even a space that only you will see is fair game. “Some fun forgotten places are in a walk-in closet and laundry room,” Hoffer adds. “Why shouldn’t these places be just as beautiful and add a smile to your day?”

Don’t Go Overboard

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Be judicious when it comes to art displays in your home. “When you’re choosing art for a room, it’s a good idea to let one wall take center stage and let the rest of the art in the room play a supporting role,” designer Stephanie Purzycki explains. “So, if you have a large, colorful statement piece above the sofa, you wouldn’t want to do a huge gallery wall on the opposite side of the room since they’d compete for attention.”

Think About Your Wall Color

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Imani James Interiors

Don’t forget about wall color. “Wall color is incredibly important in establishing a clean backdrop for a statement art piece,” designer Kristin Bartone notes. “Selecting a clean neutral color—it doesn’t have to be chalk white—that doesn’t have undertones will let the art be the focus.”

Wall art can be the masterpiece of your living space, no matter where you put it up. While some prefer to put their best wall art in a position where the guests can see it as soon as they enter the house, others prefer to keep it in their hall, dining, or bedroom, enriching the environment. There are several ways you can arrange wall art around your house. Here are some expert tips to help you get the best ideas.

The right height

When you want to keep the artwork in your living room, the experts suggest that the image should be at eye level. When people sit down on a sofa, they should be able to see the artwork clearly without facing any discomfort. Keeping the artwork at eye-level provides the best view to look at an artwork. It should be hung a little lower for people to admire it when they are seated on the sofa.

In symmetry

If you have multiple art pieces, make sure that all are arranged in symmetry, such as a pair or spread across equally. Small art pieces hung together to create a bigger geometrical shape is a good idea. Use identical frames to create a unified look. Keep the spacing between the pictures narrow, so they can together look like a single project.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

A focal point

You can also create a randomly arranged wall art layout with all types of pieces arranged in random order around each other. The idea of the theme is to make things appear random while they still have a focal point from where they spread out over the wall. You can start with the most prominent piece in the center and slowly work with smaller pieces outwards.

Stagger a display

You can also create a shelf for the wall art and keep all the pieces together in no particular arrangement. This is a rare preference but can still look good in bedrooms and study rooms. Take all the artwork and photographs and use a narrow shelf to place them together like an art exhibition. The frames can overlap each other as long as the biggest frames are at the back and the bigger frames are in the front.

Try three in a row

Experts suggest that a combination of three frames in a row can be a good idea to provide a natural pattern. The odd number groupings look better and continuous as compared to a pair of frames. Installing art gallery lighting on the three art pieces can make it look more effective. It not only makes the beholder notice the odd number on a beautifully decorated wall but also brings them closer to the art pieces due to the illumination.