How to hang Framed Art

The most important thing to remember is no matter how expensive or inexpensive,  art is an accessory.        In the decorating world art is to embellish a room's design.

I get so irritated when I look at certain well known magazines and they feature some wealthy person's house.   The house is usually contemporary, painted stark white and it is designed to display the owner's "extensive art collection."   On these stark white walls I see many unrelated paintings of no particular period.   The only purpose they serve is to show a blatant tasteless display of wealth. 
"I can afford to own all these expensive paintings."   Because the paintings are unrelated they don't compliment each other and it is difficult to appreciate any of them.   They distract from one another.
Museums know to display art according to period because by displaying periods or schools together they compliment each other.   Also the viewer can enjoy not only the art but the history of the art.

If these people,   who could buy me a thousand times over truly want to impress each other with their wealth;   They would buy expensive art that relates to its surroundings.   Isn't it more impressive to say, "We decided to sell our traditional mansion so we sent all our Rubens and Rembrandt to Christies."   "We need to get Picasso's for our new contemporary mansion."

The art displayed should relate to the design of the room it is in.  That is not to say you can't slip in something a little different in period so the room doesn't look rigid.   But don't hang dissimilar pieces together.   If your room is traditional its fine to stick  a little Picasso somewhere unexpected.

As much as possible a well decorated room will look balanced from side to side and front to back.
This visual balance is achieved by attempting to equalize the size and mass.   A piano on one side is balanced by a table and wall of art on the opposite wall etc. etc.

Art hung in a gallery effect.

Each wall in the room should have its own focal point and balance.   How the art is hung helps to create the focus.   Too many people hang art in the middle of the wall.   The art should be hung to emphasize the focal point of the wall.  It needs to relate to the things around it.    In my opinion stair wells are the only place where art can be hung without something under it.

When a wall needs art but there is no place or need
for something under it.   Do a gallery effect.
Use two or more pieces starting within six or eight
inches above the baseboard and stack them.   This
creates a pleasing vertical line and creates a pleasing

Two Prints stacked in a gallery effect

The wall behind the sofa, for example  should always
have enough space filled to be important enough
to compliment one of the most important furnishings
in the room.

This can be done with one large piece of art or any number
of smaller pieces that look good together and compliment
each other.   Often candle sconces are used as an attempt
to stretch art that is not large enough.   This usually does
not work.    One, because the sconce usually does not
have enough mass to fill the space and two, because are
you really going to burn candles over your sofa.\
Sconces with dusty candles that are never used are
very unattractive.

 Art and accessories overlap to create an attractive vignette
   Another common mistake is to hang art so that none of it
is blocked from view.   When I help clients with art they
will often say,  "I can't see that picture.  Its behind the
lamp."   I then explain.   To make the wall come off
as l vignette the items must visually overlap.   Otherwise
it is just a wall with a bunch of stuff on it.   You want
the eye to first take in the total space and that being done,

 Dining room illustrates balance from wall to wall
vignette to vignette
examine the detail of each object.   It also gives a "rich"
look.   "I have so many objects I don't have to see every
inch of every one of them."

Regarding the art you use, it is better to have
a good print than a crappy cheap looking
oil painting.   Oil paintings are great if you
can afford well done ones.   The so called
bargain oil paintings you buy off the back
of a truck or the advertised "oil painting
hotel sales"  "sofa size oil paintings for
$100. dollars" are junk.   They are what is

Oil painting and accessories decorate mantle
known as conveyor belt oil paintings, if
they are even oil paintings.   Conveyor belt
"art" is when the canvas goes down the line
and one person paints a sky, another paints
the clouds, another does the trees, another
does the land scape and still another does
the ever present lady with a parasol.
The good oil paintings most people can afford
are ones that although they are repainted are
done by one artist who paints each one from
sketch on canvas to finish.   While the scenes
are similar, because each is painted one at a
time by the same artist each one is a little
different.  Few of us can afford originals,
which might be investment quality.
A collection of objects create a focal point over a sofa
Decorative repainted oils are only investment
in that with inflation they cost more to buy 
each year.

Another thing to avoid are those awful
fake oil paintings.  The "art"  is printed
on a surface that is textured to look like
brush marks.   Of course the brush marks
have no relationship to the picture,

A print has always been affordable art.

What is wrong with this setting?
The art is a little heavy for the small table
and the fruit plaques make the entire
vignette too wide for the table.
When you see a print you know what it
is.   That is the beauty of it .   A print is not
trying to deceive anyone.   There are of course
different kinds and quality prints.   There are
hand colored prints, where a colorist paints
the colors in with water colors.  With the
cost of good matting and framing, even good
prints can be expensive.   The point is
that it is better to have a good print than to
have an imitation oil painting or a badly
done oil painting.   If you can't tell the difference
get someone who can to help you.

Lastly,  if you can afford oil paintings;  they are not
appropriate in every setting.  They imply a formal
setting.   While I have seen it done, I don't think
oils are appropriate in bath rooms or kitchens.

Small vignette with stacked art

As always,I hope you found this useful and  fun.
Please tell your friends about my blog and let me know
what you think.

Bill Gantt

Be sure to check out my Holiday Decorating blogs.

Posted now:
      How to make roses out of ribbon
      Christmas gift wrap with roses
      Christmas decorations from roadside weeds
      How to make a Tea Cup Tree

   New Christmas decorating blogs will be posted every week!

   Mark your calendar-Holiday Open House-Dec. 1 & 2

Decorating Walls

For the last ten or so years walls have either been neglected or tortured.  They either have been given a boring coat of paint or had to endure coat after coat of paint.   In the later case, they have been rag rolled, tissue painted, mottled, sponged, french plastered, etc. etc.   While some of these create texture, they are essentially differing techniques of adding background color to a room.  
As with many things, when we decide we like something we throw moderation to the wind.   We can't get enough.    Only when there is nothing left to sponge paint, glaze or dapple we begin to realize perhaps we may have gone overboard.    I am a huge fan of faux finishes and trompe l' oeil  when the effect is subtle and carefully integrated into the scheme to achieve an overall result.    In many cases  these effects have become the overriding element in the design not the supporting element they should be .
Two patterned wallpapers used in field & style arrangement

 In areas where there are no furniture or windows like halls and stairs, naturally the walls gain importance.    But in areas that include furnishings walls should be more supportive of the room decor.   Many houses are virtually devoid of architectural interest.   Aside from baseboards, window moldings and the occasional crown molding the detailing must be added.   In every design subtle;e detail is essential.   It is what keeps the space interesting.    It what keeps you from getting tired of the design .

Let me share with you  some things  I do to add interest and details to walls.  


It is being said that wallpaper is back in style.   As far as I'm concerned sales might have been slow , but wallpaper was never out of style.

Close up of mini border style

Wallpaper can have a big impact on a room,  but most often I like to use it to create an effect.   When you select a subtle wallpaper design you know what the finish will look like.   I know of people who hired a painter to do a faux finish.   They got a sample board yet when the work was done it had little resemblance to the sample.   Wallpaper can give the effect of many of the textured finishes,  but when its time for a change the walls don't have to be refinished.

Dining Room  room set with wallpaper field and wooden styles
If budgets allowed I would try to accommodate
all the elements into every room.   Unfortunately
in the real world things must be kept within budgets.   I usually have to pick and choose
to get the most look for the least money.

Field and styles

Wallpaper field and style add very subtle detail
ments.  Style is the Old English term for
fence and of course "field" is the area enclosed
by the "style"[fence].

Typically the styles are wooden moldings,  but
I started using mini borders years back instead.

This makes field and style treatments very cost
effective.   A mini border is a fancy stripe cut
from a striped wallpaper.

For the field I like to use a marbleized or other
faux finish wallpaper.  I like the wallpaper to

Two storey foyer with wooden style moldings
be as close in color to the painted wall as is possible.   Don't forget detail must be subtle!

I use this treatment in two ways.   I either panel
out the entire room or do one or two over the
main elements in the room.

Never never 1 wall!

The only justification for one wall for me is if
you have a room that is about twice as long as
it is wide.   In that case I sometimes use a strong
paper at the far end to visually bring the room
into square.
      Two storey foyer in a new Victorian decorated in period

As far as I am concerned  "Accent walls" should
be called "Accident Walls"   Why would
anyone do that on purpose?    They either
look like you were too cheap to paper the whole
room or you ran out of paint.

The two storey foyers demand this kind of
decoration.   If you look to history these very
high ceilinged rooms were always detailed out.

This space needs to be broken down.   It needs
architectural detail.   I have seen people spend
thousands of dollars on hand screened wallpaper
to get the large repeats they think they need for
Looking toward the ceiling.
these areas.   Unfortunately the large open space
they had becomes a large busy space filled with
huge patterns or flowers.

On stairwell walls the "sides"  of the styles
must be vertical with the tops and bottoms
following the lines of the ceiling and baseboards.

A dramatic dining room with wallpaper set into gold sttyles
It can be attractive to hang art work inside
the styles.   However if the art is too big to
fit, I have no problem letting it cover the
styles as long as it is centered on them.

A large mirror is centered over two field and styles

As always thanks for visiting my blog.   Please tell your friends.   I hope you find the information
informative and useful.   Let me know what you think of it.   The next one will be about decorative
art and how to hang it.

Bill Gantt