Ask Kate #4 // How To Hang Or Arrange Art

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Hey guys, I’m going to address these common mistakes and dilemmas of hanging/arrange art. We’re too familiar with the problems of art hung too high or too small but still, this is soooo common and easy to fix. You heard me right…before you start thinking that the problem lies with the art, it might just be simply not hung correctly. As you continue reading, it will become clear for you to identify the problem to—”why does my art look awkward on my wall?”.

Now, know that I have no discrimination against your art pieces, whether it’s an one-of-a-kind painting, mass-produced print or it’s a DIY. Higher cost of the art ≠ the better they look on your wall. The quality of an art is very subjective. DIY arts or personal photographs often has sentimental value that cannot be placed with a price tag.

If you have great art pieces, you can get away with almost anything (read on). And if you don’t and you’re like me starting from scratch decorating my new home, know this…I love flowers in my home and plants (I don’t think that I have a green thumb but that shouldn’t stop me from trying). So even if you have never had flowers/plants in your home, never care about hanging art in your home (and maybe only display photos in photo frames), it shouldn’t stop you from starting now and certainly it’s not a thing only for the rich!

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Home feels very different with flowers/plants and ART (even if it’s just one piece of art!). They uplifts your spirit instantly, if you’ve ever wondered why hotel lobbies has them, that’s because we feel better around them. Whether you already have pieces of art or going to buy them now, hold on…because this post is about to address both situation and more.

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Some of you are blessed with many windows or huge windows like this, and many people hung art on a blank wall like this (see image 1). The golden rules are; hanging art at eye level (center of your art is 57″ from floor), 6-8″ above sofa, 1/2 to 2/3  the length of sofa/wall.  If you already know these rules, congratulation but we will be breaking these rules as you continue reading. As you might be asking right now, “so how do we know when to break the rules?“.

I’m a firm believer of no rules in home styling but there are guidelines to help you to achieve an optimal result. The problem with art hung too high is that it is disjointed with the rest of the room. It feels as though the art is floating away from the sofa/bed. So instead of viewing the room as a whole, your eyes view the art and the furniture as separate items as if they have invisible box around them to prevent them from interacting with each other. Follow the 57″ above floor guideline when hanging multiple pieces of arts in the same room.

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It’s pretty easy to see that your art is too small for the space when you have a lot of blank wall. Art pieces should be 2-4″ apart, if you have gap wide enough for a third piece of art in between, it’s obviously wrong (see image 1). If you already have existing art pieces that are too small for your sofa/bed, you can correct the size by adding a mat board (the border in between your artwork and frame). 

I like the graphic prints in image 2 (they are not too bad), either add a third print and hang them in a straight row (again, following the golden rules mentioned above) or frame these two pieces together and hang them above the bed. The third option is to separate the two, use only one in the bedroom by casually leaning it on your nightstand. Mass-produced or generic artworks look a ton better when there is only one of them in the room! You can display the other one in another room in your home or rotate them!

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One of the not so frequently discussed problems is the orientation of the art. Yes, it does matter! Typically, a horizontal wall requires a horizontal art and so on. The mistake of image 1 is that the art is centered using the existing light as guideline, the correct way is to use the wall as guideline. The light is most likely NOT off-center as I believe it IS centered to the wall (without cabinet and the fridge). But you’re not going to view this piece of art without your kitchen cabinet, what needs to happen here is your art should be hung centered to the wall (not taking into consideration of the L-shaped blank space on the left side).

I would also use a square piece of art to avoid drawing attention to the narrow vertical wall. The problem is NOT the light fixture but it has to be realign with the art piece (see illustration of where I would’ve hung the art). Same rule applies to an uneven wall; determine which part is longer (the recessed wall or the protruding wall?), where is the placement of sofa/bed etc.? Hang your art by using the recessed wall OR protruding wall as guideline NOT the entire length of the wall. 

For image 2, the seemingly oversized art dwarfs the door and window (not a good thing), notice the height difference. I would use a horizontal piece of art to complement the long sectional (follow the 57″ from floor rule). If the piece has to be hung vertically, lower the art so that the top is aligned with the door frame. Also, the blue from the art jumps out at you because there is nothing else blue in this room which makes the art look random and disjointed. When in doubt, step back and try viewing the room as a whole, does your art look weird/awkward/jarring? If it does, it’s not working for your room and sometimes breaking a rule or two is the key. We recently hung a DIY artwork at our entryway and we totally eyeballed the height and then we measured it so that it’s centered it on a vertical wall next to a door. The two of us took turns stepping back to view it from different angles (from the kitchen, hallway to bedroom, etc.) multiple times.

// OVERSIZED ART //

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Now let’s talk how to break some rules and achieve stunning results. See above images on how a vertical wall calls for a vertical piece of art. When using oversized, consider them like paint/wallpaper/mural on your wall. Your art will change the vibe of the space, simple and quiet art or busy and striking. See how furniture and objects are placed in front of the art, interacting with each other. Image 2 is hung by using the wall as guideline and is not noticeably taller than the door frame next to it. 

// UNDERSIZED ART //

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Breaking the rule again by using undersized art. Image 1, small art hung above the nightstand acts more like an accessory, it also helps that it’s one piece instead of a bunch of small pieces. Undersized art looks great when off-centered because they do not follow the rule of 1/2 – 2/3 length of sofa/bed etc., hanging an undersized art center will only highlight the fact that it is too small for the space, once again going back to the problem. Undersized arts are not art that falls short of being the right size, they have to be significantly smaller than what the space requires. Black frames here works great, the small art doesn’t get lost visually because our eyes are drawn to black. Give the art a moment to shine by creating an intimate moment such as in the bedroom. 

// PICTURE LEDGE //

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This is a good way to display a bunch of art pieces, it’s also a good way to elevate generic prints (such as typography) by mixing them with other types of artwork. Image 1 has them arranged as if they’re hanging on the wall (note the equal spacing), I would prefer what image 2 did by overlaying them and add an element of surprise by including objects such as plant/sculpture, it makes your picture ledge waay more interesting. Also image 1 is not coordinating the artworks with the rest of the room. There is a fuschia pillow but no fuschia color in those arts. Image 2 did a better job by keeping things neutral.

// LEANING ART //

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One of the mistakes is trying to put art on every empty wall you can find. If you are blessed with owning many pieces of art, try leaning them on your shelves and even on the floor. This look is casual yet artsy. You can secure them with 3M tapes if you’re worried about them falling off. Don’t be afraid to layer objects or furniture in front of the art (a chair like image 1 works great because you can still view the art through the chair). If you have art that is too small for the space, use taller vase or books to add height then lean your art casually against the wall. Now your eyes view it as one grouping instead of one lonely small piece of art that is floating nowhere.

// OFF-CENTER ART //

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The mistake of off-center art is when they look totally random. Like out of no reason you decided to be funky by hanging it off-centered. It just look funny. Image 1 has the art off-centered because of the wall lamp, not just a wall lamp but a beautiful sculptural wall lamp, your eyes view the art as one grouping with those lamps. The well coordinated color scheme for image 2 bedroom also makes your eyes see the room as a whole. Off-centered art doesn’t work as well when you hang one lonely piece of art on one big empty wall.

// GALLERY WALL //

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The most challenging of the bunch shown here is—ta-da! Gallery Wall! I created one from scratch specifically for this post, it literally took me days. They have to be the right colors, right size…which is why designers charge you hourly rate to design one. Image 1 is the highly accessible IKEA gallery wall which is great if you would like to start one but feels overwhelmed. If you feel confident enough, you can always switch out the artwork inside the IKEA frames and start creating your own gallery wall. A good gallery wall is personalized and fun. Everyone wants to be that confident and fun person in a party but you don’t want to risk coming across as trying too hard. The quality of your art on your gallery wall does make a difference to say the least.

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“Man In Suit” DIY // Two Photographs My Instagram // Abstract Blue Yellow Etsy // Watercolor Geometric Etsy //  Abstract Minimalist Blue Etsy // Painting Abstract Etsy // Watercolor Landscape Etsy // Photograph Black And White YellowKorner // Hummingbird Mosaic Etsy // “Plant” DIY // Large Piece Uprise Art // Beach Max Wanger // “Bohemian Black And White” DIY

Do you have design questions or dilemmas that require solving? All you need to do is click here and I will answer your question FREE of charge on the blog. It’s really that simple and there is NO country restriction, all you need to do is submit your question. I look forward to hear from you! And stay tuned for FREE design giveaways coming on the blog. The free design giveaway is a much more comprehensive service and is tailored to individual style meaning your style (it includes 3D designs that normally a designer would charge you a fee for!). More details on this coming on the blog. Enjoy the video (below) that I’ve put together for you and big thanks for like and subscribe our new Youtube channel

More from Ask Kate – 

#1 Choosing The Right Sofa // #2 When White Walls Don’t Work // #3 Buying Generic And Matching Furniture

All words by me. Images by me and credited links. This is a non-sponsored post. All items are subject to availability by respective seller(s).

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