As part of my ongoing collaboration with Rockett St George, I have compiled a post on how to choose and hang art in your home. They have a huge collection of prints for both under and over £50 and as it’s one of things I am most often asked about when it comes to the finishing touches I thought I would share some tips that might help you if you are either looking to decorate your walls or stuck on how to hang the pieces you already have.
1 Don’t buy something because it goes with the cushions. Buy it because you love it. You will always find a place to hang it. That said, you are bound to be drawn to pieces that have a similar colour palette both on sofas and sketches and that’s completely fine, but you should have a gut reaction to a picture that means you just want to have it and will worry about where to hang it later. I have often been looking for something for a particular place and ended up falling for something that has ended up in a completely different slot. That’s fine as at least you will end up with a collection of prints that you love and that reflect your tastes.
2 Don’t worry if the piece you love is too small for the place you want to hang it; there are ways around this. Firstly, consider reframing it with a larger mount so that it becomes bigger over all. A small picture in a large mount can look really dramatic and it forces you to go right up to it to see it. Secondly make a virtue of the fact that it is small – hang it low and off centre. This can look particularly good over a sofa for example where you would usually expect one large central piece. Playing visual tricks like this makes much more of a statement.
3 Do consider grouping pictures together. This doesn’t have to mean a gallery wall, although that is fine if that is what you want. Consider instead two or three pictures that might work together well because they have a common colour or subject rather than filling an entire wall. They can be completely different sizes and shapes but a grouping of two or three pictures on one wall can be far more effective that one piece on three walls.
4 Do consider the relationship between the picture you are hanging and the items above and below it. So over a mantelpiece, the picture needs to be close enough to the items below to create a relationship with them. In the image below the picture is very close to the chair and the two now form a partnership which is much more dramatic than if the picture was hanging three feet above the chair. You will just have to trust me on this one. Most pictures want to be hung slightly lower than your initial instinct. Try it and see.
5 Don’t hang pictures too high. The golden rule is that the centre of the picture should be at around 57 inches from the floor which is the eye height of the average person. You will probably need to adjust to fit. And if a painting is going over a sofa or table then the bottom of it should be about 30cm over the top to allow for head clearance but also so that you can see it. The most common mistake that people make is hanging them too high so while that rule exists for general guidance you may want to vary it in a sitting room where the vantage point will be mostly from a sitting position, or a bedroom where you will be lying down. It’s only ever a guideline and is mostly to stop you hanging things so hang you have to stand on the sofa to see them. And yes I have seen that.
6 Don’t feel that a gallery wall has to be only on one wall. Some of the most effective ones I have seen have been hung around a corner with pictures on two walls. If you aren’t sure how to plan a gallery wall then you can lay it out on the floor first and then stand on a chair so you can look at it from a bit further away. Or use command strips, essentially a sort of velcro for the walls, so you can take them off and reposition them at will. I often find that arranging something and taking a photograph and looking at that helps you judge it better.
7 Do take a tip from Wes Anderson; symmetry is always pleasing to the eye and relaxing. So if you have pair of pictures, or two that are the same size hang them in matching alcoves or next to each other. And if you want a very pleasing grid of several pictures (as opposed to the more random gallery wall) then the aforementioned command strips are your vital friend as you are more likely to get everything in a straight line than if you have several pictures with different lengths of string on the back.
8 Don’t create a straight line between the top of the door or window and the top of the picture. Try and vary it either up or down.
9 Do think about the view from another room or the hallway as you pass. A picture can draw the eye into that room. Consider hanging it so that it is perfectly framed by the doorway as well as its own frame. This may be off centre on the wall it is actually hanging on but may look better as you walk past.
10 Do think about just leaning a picture against a wall or using a picture shelf to create an ever-changing display of artwork. It doesn’t have to be fixed in one place – especially if you rent. Even two or three pictures leaning on a mantelpiece with other objects can look great and means you can change them as often as you want.
I hope these tips have been useful to you. There are many more pieces to choose from on the Rockett St George website, I wanted to show you ones that were hung in relation to furniture and other items as far as possible so that you would get a sense of what I was talking about so do have a browse if you want to see more.
As I mentioned this is part of my paid collaboration with Rockett St George. The words are mine, the pictures are theirs, not just on this blog but also in their online store where you will find dozens more at all prices.