How to Display Wall Art

To display a wall art is to emphasize an artwork’s features. When displaying a piece, here are some things you should keep in mind – balance, lighting, variety, and layout. It’s best to try out the layout first and if you’re still not satisfied, you can make the proper adjustments.
How to Display Wall Art

Displaying wall art is an art all its own. It’s not as simple as finding a bare spot and tacking it on; you have to consider balance, stability, and how the art will work with everything else in the room. You want your art to be emphasized, not muted or overshadowed by a dozen other trimmings. At the same time, you want it to fit in with the rest of your décor. It sounds almost impossible, but it’s easier than it seems.

There are several ways to display wall art, each with its own unique advantages. Take the time to find one that fits and gives justice to your piece. When properly displayed, even a simple piece of art can become the focal point of any room. Here are some things to keep in mind when putting up wall art.

Hang at eye level

Hang your wall art at the eye level of an average viewer. Too high and they won’t be able to view it comfortably; too low and it puts your entire wall out of balance. For large pieces, use the center of the painting—not the top or bottom of the frame—as your point of reference.

There is some confusion as to what eye level is in terms of viewer position. Are the viewers assumed to be sitting or standing? Experts haven’t agreed on the answer, so it’s best to decide based on the function of the room. Standing eye level is usually followed in hallways and galleries. In living rooms and basements, where people are usually seated on couches, seated eye level might work better.

Keep it balanced

Your frames should be in proportion with the wall space where you want to hang it. Put a smaller frame on a narrow strip of wall (such as those beside doorways), and bigger pictures at the center of a wide, bare wall. If there’s a piece of furniture right below the picture, make sure the frame doesn’t extend wider than the furniture. Otherwise, the art will dwarf the furniture and make it less inviting.

Go for variety

Instead of hanging one large painting, try arranging several smaller pieces over the same area. This adds some character and variety to the room, and gives your guests more than one image to take in. If the wall space is small, you can arrange them in rows or columns, depending on the orientation. For larger walls, non-linear arrangements usually work well because they counter the straight line boundaries of the wall. Try using different-sized frames for even more variety.

When working with grouped pictures, remember to think of them as a single unit. Choose a central piece and arrange the rest around it. Use this piece as a point of reference for hanging the picture.

Do a test layout

Before hanging a group of pictures, plan out their arrangement on the floor or table. Use a piece of paper or scrap molding to set the boundaries. Be sure to include obstacles such as furniture, corners, doorways, and window sills. When you’re done doing the layouts, put up the test sheet on the wall and mark the spots where each picture hangs. This way, you avoid drilling at the wrong spot and causing unnecessary damage to your walls.

Balance your hanging points

Pictures larger than 12 inches across should be hung at more than one point. This makes them more stable and keeps them from wobbling or crashing down. Most art pieces come with mounting hooks pre-installed, but they’re not always in proportion. Try supporting it with a finger and see if it wobbles. The general rule is that one point should support a maximum of 16 inches, although this can vary depending on the weight of the frame.

Light up your wall

Consider illuminating your art with accent lights to give it emphasis. This works especially well in hallways and corners, where there’s seldom enough ambient light to see them clearly. Avoid harsh, bright lighting—they’ll overpower your image, produce glare, and make it hard to see up close. Use warm, subdued lighting to bring out the tones and maintain a relaxed mood throughout the room. Light it evenly from all corners or with a diffused light from the opposite wall.

Consider ‘leaning art’

Hanging isn’t the only way to display your art. One popular trend is to use an art shelf, which is a small, wall-mounted surface designed to hold art frames. With an art shelf, there’s no need to install hooks or straighten the frame—simply prop your frame up against the wall and you’ve got an elegant, casual display. Many art shelves have decorative carvings that add to the beauty of the painting. The best place to install them is above a piece of furniture, such as a bed or a couch.