You've probably felt the frustration before: A blank wall stands, undecorated. Pieces of art wait nearby, bright but unused. Time passes. Where do you start? Take heart, there is a right way to hang art. The editors of Southern Accents have gathered a few pointers to help you transform your blank walls into design masterpieces, like the example at left by designer Lars Bolander. Let's start with the basics.
Your idea of art might include museum posters, children's drawings, priceless Picassos, or an eclectic mix. No matter your tastes, art is best viewed at eye level -- about 5 1/2 feet from the floor is a good rule of thumb. Notice the strong statement made in decorator Eric Prokesh's arrangement at left. And, if there's any question, it's usually better to hang art lower than higher. With that in mind, let's do some planning.
It's a good idea to think in terms of groups or blocks of art. Be creative -- mix prints, paintings, and drawings with plates or brackets or photographs. As you consider your grouping, take inspiration from the frames. The width of the frames can dictate the spacing between pieces. In general, you should hang larger pieces over smaller ones, unless the frame of the smaller piece is heavier. If you have several pieces from the same artist, try blocks of four, six, nine, etc., so they can be viewed as a single entity, as shown here. "Hang work from different artists in a less strict manner to emphasize each piece's uniqueness.
These decisions won't seem so tricky if you make a map. First, measure the space the grouping will take up. Then, model it out with masking tape on the floor (or on a posterboard, etc.), marking eye level (5 1/2 feet!) for reference. Take everything into account as you measure, including furniture that will stand against the wall. If you're hanging art over a curved-back piece, as in the image at left, consider designing it so that the grouping follows the lines of the furniture. This is the time to experiment freely with spacing and proportion (and save your walls a few stray marks and nail holes).
Once you're satisfied with your grouping map, simply transfer it onto the wall. To avoid crooked art, keep a level handy, and hang it using two nails rather than one. And, as you move on to the next bare wall, remember that rules are made to be broken. Try propping art instead of hanging it -- this works particularly well on a mantel (shown here), chest of drawers, or sideboard. Pay attention to overlooked spaces, too -- corners and over doorways and archways are prime decorating spots.