May 10, 2023

How do you transform a room from ordinary to extraordinary? With art! But how do you hang art properly? How do you make sure it looks right and doesn't clutter the room? Arranging artwork in your own home can be tricky. But a room without art? Absolutely not!
An empty wall is silent.

Through inspiring art, the space begins to communicate. That's why this blog post is about living with art. Whether you're looking for the right place for a showpiece or want to turn your home into a small museum, the way you display your art is as much a reflection of your personality as the art itself.

In the Beginning is the Image: The Right Artwork for the Right Place

Before the how comes the what.
Sometimes we fall in love with a work of art, and the question of what becomes superfluous. On other occasions, it may be the place from which we start. We have a specific place in mind, and we look for the right painting. In the first place, of course, it has to appeal to you.
However, the following guiding questions are also useful in the search for the right artwork:

First, very practical considerations may come into play - for example, whether it is possible to drill holes into the wall, or to anchor something with hooks (sometimes difficult in old buildings). And whether works of art with heavy frames are suitable. More complex is the question of what effect you want to achieve. This also affects the hanging. A single small picture in the middle of an empty white wall can have a huge effect. How much space do you have? 

Do you want the artwork to complement your style or stand out? Is it the centerpiece or the icing on the cake? Do you want it to fill the room with aesthetic excitement? Are you looking for a piece of art for a place where you need to concentrate, be inspired, come to rest? What colors dominate? Do you want contrast or harmony?

Equally important is the format. Depending on the subject and color, formats can have different effects. Paintings in landscape format have a more calming effect on us. It corresponds to our field of vision when the picture is wide rather than high. This also gives a sense of spaciousness. Landscape formats are good for hanging over sofas, beds, or dressers.
The portrait format can seem a little more unstable to us - it's like a tower, but inside it, because of the content of the painting, something is happening that could destabilize the solid connection. But that also makes it seem more dynamic. It draws your eye up and can make a room seem higher. Portrait formats work well on narrow walls or in alcoves.

Square formats look harmonious because of the balance of the sides. They can be placed almost anywhere. There is less danger of destabilization and more danger of monotony.
You can play with the effects by using them or breaking them deliberately. Or you can trick the eye, for example, if you're looking for a piece of art for the space above your sofa, but you only like portrait-sized pictures, you can combine two or three pieces of art.

We're on topic.

How to make your wall an eye-catcher

You have chosen the works of art for your home with love, understanding and a sense of aesthetics. They express your taste, your values, your personality. And they deserve to be displayed perfectly.

Here are my best tips for making sure your artwork gets the attention it deserves.
As always, you need to know the "rules" to play by and, if necessary, to break them skillfully.

The right height
Paintings look best when hung at eye level. This means that their center is approximately at eye level. This does not have to be the measured center, but the central focal point of the artwork. On average, eye level is between 1.50 m and 1.60 m. So you can't go wrong with 1.55 m (About 57–60 inches). Of course, you can determine your own eye height. Do you want to admire your painting from your favorite chair? The eye height for artwork viewed from a sitting position is different.

Spacing and Proportions
When hanging art over furniture, there should be at least 20 cm (8 inches) between the top edge of the furniture and the bottom edge of the frame. It looks especially harmonious and cohesive if the width of the artwork is about 3/4 or 2/3 of the width of the furniture. A space of 5 cm (2 inches) between two or more paintings has a soothing effect on our eyes.
You don't have to stick to this, of course, but it's a good idea to keep to the distance you've chosen. It is also possible to play with a multiple, for example 3 cm (1.2 inches) and 6 cm (2.4 inches).

Play with Colors

As I said, a work of art on a large white, otherwise blank wall looks good. That's what galleries do.
Nothing distracts from the painting. At home, this is often not easy to achieve. But the same is true here: A white, or at least neutral, background brings the art into focus. But that doesn't mean colored walls are out of the question.

It looks harmonious when the wall color picks up a hue from the painting. Colors from the same color family or colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel also complement each other well.

If you like more contrast, you can also use complementary colors. These are opposite colors on the color wheel, such as blue and yellow or red and green. Light, powdery colors, such as pastels, have a soothing effect.
The darker and more intense the colors, the more powerful they appear. Black and white art works well on any background.

Set the scene: The lighting

To bring out the beauty and emotion of a work of art, it's all about the right lighting. While nothing beats natural light, direct sunlight causes colors to fade. Original art and valuable reproductions should never be exposed to direct sunlight. On the other hand, a wall without direct sunlight may be too dark to give a work of art the effect it deserves.

Artificial lighting can help. But be careful not to overdo it. Highlight individual, special pieces. You don't have to illuminate every piece of art to the smallest detail.

You can choose from classic picture lights or ceiling spots. These are more flexible if you redecorate from time to time. However, the entire painting should always be evenly lit. Choose lamps with a neutral white color. This is the best way to present the colors of your artwork. The light from picture lights has a more intimate effect and should not be too bright. Spacing and angles are important with spotlights. While an angle of about 30° will always work, you will need to experiment with spacing. If the light source is too far away, it will glare; if it is too close, it will create unattractive shadows.

Use soft, even lighting that adequately illuminates the artwork without overwhelming it. If the artwork is very detailed, the light can be more intense. But be sure to choose LED lights; not only are they more environmentally friendly, but they don't produce UV rays or heat, so they won't damage your painting.

Please avoid

I have already mentioned the damaging effect of sunlight on art. Colors fade. If it is a work of art on paper, it can also turn yellow. In both cases, museum glass provides some protection by filtering out ultraviolet light. However, you should never expose art to direct sunlight for long periods of time

Proximity to a radiator is also not recommended. The heat or temperature fluctuations can damage your artwork. The same goes for air that is too dry or too humid. Cracks may appear in the paint, wood may warp, and paper may curl. Still want to hang art in your kitchen or bathroom? Ask your local retailer about protective frames, place artworks out of the way of cooking steam, and don't hang your most valuable piece directly over the bathtub.

For maintenance, use only a dry, soft cloth to remove dust. A feather duster will also work. If at any time you need to remove a stubborn stain, use very, very little moisture. Be very gentle. Dab rather than rub. Avoid chemicals or any additives - even curd soap - altogether.

Within your own 4 walls, you can be as creative as you want. Here are a few examples of how to play with the rules.

  • Pictures don't always have to hang. It also works differently. Leaning against the wall or draped over a shelf or dresser often makes art look extra casual.
  • Corners or niches can be interesting places to stage your artwork.
  • Paintings don't always have to hang individually.

Mix and Match: Different artworks become a gallery wall

Do you have several favorite paintings that you can't hang because you don't have enough space? Pah, sometimes more is more. With a gallery wall, you can combine different styles and formats to give your room a personal touch.

The Salon Wall: Petersburger Hängung

The Petersburger Hängung is named after the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. There, in many rooms, countless paintings and works of art hang close together. In some rooms, the artwork covers the entire wall. Rich St. Petersburg citizens used to adopt this hanging to demonstrate their status.

A salon wall can create an overwhelming and dramatic effect by presenting a multitude of artworks in one room. It leads the viewer's eye from one painting to the next and is bold, creative and dynamic. This arrangement creates a sense of fullness and richness, but it can also create a sense of restlessness.

Relate the paintings to each other. This brings a bit of calm to the chaos. This can be the same or similar frames, for example. Or mounts. Or always the same distances. It can also be a theme or a color that appears at regular intervals. Size, format, style... there are no limits to your creativity.

The Petersburg tapestry works better on a large wall and is well suited to communicative spaces. It can be overwhelming in the bedroom. Paint the wall a neutral color or one that ties the artwork together.

Gemälde aufhängen

Petersburger Hängung | salon Wall

The edge hanging

Kantenhängung | Edge hanging

With edge hanging, all images are aligned with at least one horizontal or vertical line. This can be the top or bottom edge, but it can also be a center line. This hanging is much more orderly than the salon wall, but still leaves room for creativity and dynamism.

The hanging becomes especially interesting when you play with large and small sizes. However, it is important to keep the spacing the same. Otherwise, the effect will be asymmetrical. However, you can choose different horizontal and vertical spacing.

To keep the hanging from looking too rigid, you can vary the frames or mounts.

Gallery Wall with animal paintings

Bei der Kantenhängung kannst du dich auch sowohl an der Ober-, als auch an der Unterkante orientieren. | For edge hanging, you can also use both the top and bottom edges as a guide.

The grid hanging

Grid hanging is the most precise and rigorous of all arrangements. Unlike Petersburg hanging or edge hanging, it is an orderly and symmetrical arrangement of artworks. As the name suggests, the paintings are placed on the wall in a regular grid pattern. This can be one or more rows or vertical lines.

The effect of grid hanging is very orderly and neat. The even arrangement of the artworks creates a clear structure and a harmonious overall look. Grid hanging is particularly suitable for modern and minimalist interior styles, as well as for rooms with clean lines.

It is important to hang all the pictures in the same size and orientation. The spacing between the artworks should be even, and the arrangement can vary depending on the size of the wall and the paintings. The choice of frames and motifs should also be coordinated to achieve a harmonious overall look. Without accurate measurements, it is difficult to create a grid hanging.

Rasterhängung | grid hanging

Inside the Lines

Inside-the-line hanging gives you complete freedom. You simply hang all your artworks inside an imaginary geometric shape. It can be a square, a circle, a triangle, or an oval. Whatever you like.

After that, you don't have to worry about spacing, same subjects, sizes, frames, or anything else. Of course, you can still do it. The drawings I arranged in the example photo have 3 things in common. They are all black and white, they show people, and I drew them all with charcoal and pencil.

The inside-the-lines hanging is a very modern arrangement. It can look precise or playful, depending on the shape you choose. It works well on walls where space is limited. For example, if a wall is on a slope, you can take advantage of this by hanging it in a triangular shape. You can also use the space between two windows. But you can also make a statement on a large wall.

Inside the Lines

A Single Piece

Speaking of statement...
The single piece is all about one thing: impact! Pick your favorite piece and give it room to breathe. That's all you really need to do: make everything revolve around the star. Pick a wall color that creates the perfect backdrop, and eliminate anything that steals the show. The effect can be breathtaking!

Der Solist | A single piece

Final rehearsal

Take some time to find the best arrangement. Experiment a bit and arrange the artwork on the floor first. Or make templates out of newspaper. You can always rearrange them without drilling.

Move them around until you find the arrangement you like. You can also use the templates to vary the spacing and test the effect on the wall right away. And when you find the perfect position, you can immediately mark where the nail or plug should go in the wall.

What do you think? Share your experience

Which of the featured hangings appeals to you the most? Or maybe you've already found another way to create the perfect picture wall yourself? I'm eager to hear your experiences and opinions on this! Feel free to let me and the other readers know in the comments. And if you like, feel free to share this article with your friends and inspire them to create their own perfect picture wall too. Thanks so much for reading!

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About the Author Lea Finke

Lea Finke is an artist with all her soul. In her blog, she talks about inspiration, passion, and encounters with art.

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