Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Picture, picture on the wall...

I get this question all the time when I'm helping my friends decorate their homes..."where do I put this picture?" ... "but what if it doesn't match?" ... "what do I put on the wall?" ...

Ok so that's more than one question but you get the point. Artwork. It seems to be a common problem amongst those who are new to decorating. And then the next thing I see - they go buy mass printed artwork because they think it matches the room, not necessarily because they like it.

So here are 8 simple rules about how to select and hang artwork.

Rule #1: never buy art because it matches. Buy art because you love it and it inspires you. Not because it matches. Did I just repeat myself? Shall I say it again? Not because it matches. If you buy it just for a room's decor then later down the road when your tastes change (and they will), you won't like the picture anymore and you'll just throw it out begrudgingly. Or you'll hold on to it because you don't want it to go to waste but won't really like it when you look at it. So buy what you love.

For example, it could be prints from an art show, a poster you see in a store, magazine covers, album or CD covers, something you make yourself...you get the picture.

these are pictures of my great-grandfather barbequing - just blown up and framed the same for a cohesive look

I found these in a little shop at the beach and had them framed and now they are in the bathroom

an old vintage poster re-created makes a great picture for the kitchen

watercolor of a castle referenced in one of my favorite books (and yes, I had it framed but it was already matted)

Rule #2: don't have all your pictures be pictures of just the family. It will be too much to look at in a living room. Personally I suggest picking a hallway, stairway or entryway to focus a gallery of family pictures (like the one below). The other option is to pick one major wall in a room and let that be the gallery.

not only is the gallery cool but the red frames really add an element of surprise

Rule #3: when it comes to placement, it doesn't have to be symmetrical. What? You just cringed didn't you? Take a deep breath. It will be OK. They need to have a consistent line but not be the same size and exact symmetrical pattern.

Note that the top picture is all types of frames, just well laid out.
Rule #4: try using the same colored frames. Rather it be red, like the picture above, or all dark wood or black, etc. the affect will help them look cohesive. But remember, it doesn't have to be perfectly matched!

pretty coral frames for a punch of color

Note that they all use black frames but that they aren't symmetrically placed

here the pics are clustered but all are in dark wood frames to look more cohesive
these frames are similar (dark wood and gold) but not exactly the same

Rule #5: you don't have to use the same size frames together. Note the pictures above. They all have different sized frames. As long as they balance each other, you don't need frames the same size. To balance them, draw a line (I use painters tape on a wall to guide me) down the center or diagonally and the frames should balance along that line. See the graphic earlier in this post of the stairwell for an example.

Rule #6: become friends with your framer. I personally like using my local craft store who often has 1/2 off framing deals. It makes buying prints, posters and other "loose" pictures easier to buy. Plus you get to pick out exactly how the picture will look when it's put together.

Which brings me to a framing tip, don't feel like every picture has to be matted. Matting can be very expensive. Sometimes pictures look better without the matting.

Rule #7: if you don't have pictures or can't find ones you like, use a theme. It could be plates, crosses, mirrors or whatever you love. Sometimes this is a cheap and easy option to add style to any wall.

Rule #8: hang pictures at eye level. Ever heard this and wondered what the heck is eye level? Afterall, I'm 6'0" but you may be 5'3" - umm my eye level is very different than yours. Basically it means hang them in between the common eye level. Note in all of the pictures featured that they are all hung just above the tables or couches, not several feet above them. It's OK if the pictures are hidden just a touch - it's called layering. Just like in clothes, layer your decorating. And yes, you should be able to touch the picture if you are sitting on the couch. It shouldn't be so high that you can't see it sitting down.

So there you go. Eight simple rules for selecting and hanging artwork. Blank walls are sad. Adding artwork makes a room feel so much cozier and complete.

So Go! Shop! Buy! Frame if you have to! And hang that artwork. Be sure to share your results with me.

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