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.

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