Create Drama in a Room with Creatively Placed Artwork

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Nothing makes a home look more finished and styled then art on the walls. Usually the art gets hung after the furniture is arranged and accessories such as lamps and small tables are placed. And no matter how gorgeous the furniture, it’s the art that brings it all together.

Debra and Karen evaluating design samples

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you may remember that Debbie and I met over art. I wrote about it in the blog, The Story of Us. We both know that not only does art on the walls make a room, but it can be hung in such a way that it makes a space feel larger, cozier, or more sophisticated. Also, it can hide a multitude of sins and make a room feel perfectly balanced. It can also bring harmony, create a focal point and help with scale in the room.

two designers discussing the placement of the accessories

Art really is the magic cure for a room.

If you search up how to hang art, there are so many rules that pop up. The only thing I would recommend is to make sure that art is not hung too high. As for the other rules, I think they’re made for breaking!! So be bold and start planning. If you’re paranoid about changing your mind and having holes in the wall, pick up some 3M picture hangers.

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hammer and picture hanging hooks

Okay now it’s time to start hanging that art. A Large Piece of Art will become the focal point of a room. It often looks best on the largest wall.

cottage in thunder bay ontario with large stone fireplace and modern accents

original artwork in living room over white console table and two custom chairs

In the room above, we kept the palette very neutral. The wall of windows (partially shown) was an amazing focal point, courtesy of mother nature. This original piece of art we sourced for the client, is intense enough to compete with the view outdoors.

Origina artwork placed over custom sectional

The large sectional above needed a strong piece to hang above it. The homeowners have a very large family and the room is cozy with furniture. We deliberately chose a piece that was busy, but a bit of a smaller scale.

Traditional art grouped on wall in formal sitting room

Sometimes the largest art you have or the one you love the most isn’t quite large enough to hold the entire wall. That’s where grouping works well. The art above is stunning and obviously the star of the room. To complement this piece, we paired quieter and cleaner art with it.

art collection displayed in eating and living room grouped around a wood buffet

Not all art has to be hung. Sometimes it creates an interesting vignette to layer art and lean a piece against the wall. We like to lean a few pieces in bookshelves or even on a kitchen shelf.

original art tucked in shelves surrounding fireplace

family photo on shelf in kitchen combined with mason jars

The artwork below was hung slightly off centre to provide a sense of balance when placed with the lamp. Don’t be afraid of hanging art on wallpaper or panelling.

Art used to create vignette with lamp on small table

stacked art on traditional panelling painted Benjamin Moore Dove White 0C-18

As in the photo above, the art does not have to sit perfectly within the grid pattern on the wall. The stump, plant and pharmacy lamp balance the grid pattern so that it all works in harmony.

Traditional art hung low over console with whimsical owl

Sometimes it’s nice to offset traditional items with a bit of whimsy. Having heirloom pieces gives a room a sense of history, but be careful to make sure it doesn’t look like great-grandma’s home.

gallery wall in kitchen on wall painted dark grey

Hanging traditional art in off-beat ways will breathe new life into a space and the artwork itself. I once had a wonderful client who inherited all her mother’s needlepoint. She wanted to display it, but her daughter said it would make the space look old fashioned. We did hang it, combining it with photographs from a trip to Atlantic Canada and a few modern pieces. It really looked smashing and the daughter couldn’t believe how funky her mother’s place looked.

Don’t be afraid to take family pieces because they might be out of style. Using them in a gallery configuration can make any piece look great.

Native art in a group of three hanging on wall

nursery with stacked art, tree wallpaper and rocking chair

two pieces of art stacked in a foyer

gallery wall with large vase and branches, turquoise vase and Bencini statue

landscape paintings hung over midcentury modern console table

eating area with banquette, modern chairs, gallery art and sheepskin

traditional living room with art behind sofa

I am a big believer that the majority of art in a home should be original and unique. There’s no need to run to the nearest big-box store and stock up on their prints. Visit consignment shops, antique markets and art galleries to procure original pieces.

watercolour of northwestern Ontario in wood frame hung on white wall

And get creative. Shadow boxes are a great way to frame items that have special memories. Even leaves,rocks and birch bark look awesome in a frame. I have a friend who framed her grandmother’s cookie recipe and it hangs in a place of honour in the kitchen, grease stains and all.

framed birchbark in a vignette with brass vase with roses

Photographs make wonderful art. Consider creative ways to hang them on the wall. Black and white photos look particularly good in a grid pattern, but nobody said it had to be a traditional grid.

black and white photos in off centre graphic display

set of three sepia photos framed with white matting

green frames in a grid pattern behind a sectional

grid of 9 black and white photos on wall

Craving a new look in your home this winter? Take everything off the walls and rethink your art. Change it up and regroup the pieces. It’s an easy way to get a new look in your home.

hanging two pieces of art on the wall

children's art ready to hang on the wall

We’ve got a few new projects to share with you. Check back next week and see what we’ve been working on.

Other Posts you May Enjoy:

Why you Need to Decorate with Books

How to Style a Room

10 Design Classics





Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It's not about how much you have, it's about using what you have to create beauty.


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