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Hanging paintings around your home is a work of art

Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 00:00

I often get asked how to hang art. What is the optimum height, for example. And it’s often lower than you think. A good rule of thumb is to centre your art work approximately 1.5m (5ft) from the floor. When stacking or clustering artworks, take into account the total height, including the space you envision between the frames, and centre the composition as a whole. For paintings or other works that are too tall to hang on a centre line, it often works to place them about 400mm (16in) off the floor.

Before you hammer in a single nail take a bit of time to plan where you are going to place your pictures, especially if you are hanging a group. Decide which pieces you want on the wall, then trace their shapes onto paper. Cut out the shapes and experiment with various placements.

It’s important to consider the kind of work that you hang in particularly sunny spaces such as conservatories or south-facing rooms. Avoid hanging watercolours or photographs in areas that are flooded with sunlight, as they will fade. If you are concerned about a particular piece, you can have it framed using UV Plexiglas, it costs a little more than ordinary glass but will protect the art work. If your painting is going opposite a window, choose a non reflective glass which will minimise reflections.

Another question that I’m often asked is what colour to paint a wall that you are planning to hang art on? Dark colours are best and matching your wall colour to a colour in the painting works well too – it gives a cohesive look to the room and will really make the painting or picture come to life.

A nice idea for groupings of smaller works is to group them together to create a larger composition. Start with a central, dominant image and radiate the other pieces outward and upward around it. Choose artwork that hangs together well; look for similar colours, tones, and themes. Or keep to pieces with similar frames. This technique works particularly well with pieces of varying shapes and sizes. Incorporate round or oval pieces to give your collection visual interest.

Choosing what paintings to hang together can also be a stumbling block. There are a number of ways to do this. You could find a common theme in the works, such as seascapes for example. Or you can keep to pieces with similar colours. Whatever way you approach this try to ensure that you frame the works in a similar style.

There are other ways to display art than simply hanging it – picture rails are a great idea and because you are not hammering nails into the walls it allows you to rotate pieces and try out different looks without damaging your walls.


Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant

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