Selecting Artwork

When selecting artwork, first and foremost consider the style of the room and select pieces that either match or compliment that look. In rooms with modern furniture, for example, pure modern pieces and frames maintain the theme for an extreme modern feel while traditional ornate pieces provide a more eclectic look. Pay careful attention to the frames when going eclectic in a modern home so you can push the overall look of the piece far enough into the “ornate” category for the choice to appear intentional. Traditional homes can also incorporate a wide variety of art styles, but in this case, the framing should be kept within a more traditional theme for consistency within the home. There is nothing I love more than a cubist style painting framed within a huge rococo frame. The choice seems wrong, but it does pack a punch in the room when it is done correctly. In cottage style homes you can enjoy a wide variety of art styles so long as you keep the framing selections somewhat consistent. In my home, for example, while the frames differ in style and size, they are all painted black. This allows for a nice flow throughout the home even when the subject matter and color of the art changes from room to room.

If the artwork you are selecting is to be part of a grouping, you should decide whether the pieces in the group are to be part of a consistent theme and style, or if the collection will include pieces of varying styles and mediums. Artwork groupings of a rigid theme and color palette can be used to enforce the sense of a particular style in the room as shown in the photograph above. Filling an entire wall with all black and white photography can create a sense of unity in the group even if the subject matter differs from piece to piece. Color photography and artwork can also make a nice statement when a specific color is chosen and repeated. When framing an eclectic grouping of pieces, make sure to keep the framing consistent so the wall does not end up looking cluttered.

The color of the artwork can (and should) be chosen to compliment the room. I like to choose pieces that fall into the range of my main accent color to give the room more definition and allow for the eye to more easily move about the room. If you have more than one accent color, both of those colors can be incorporated into the artwork if you choose.

Arranging Wall Art Properly

When arranging wall art, there are a few guidelines you can follow to make your room look like it was designed by a pro.

1. Scale
When choosing and arranging your artwork, take into consideration the amount of wall space you wish to cover. When filling the space above a sofa or bed for example, try to fill the space in proportion to the furniture below it. Take some painters tape and mark off the general area you intend to fill. Take a few steps back and glance at the wall. If it looks too top heavy or empty, then adjust the tape until it looks pleasing to you.

2. Pattern
Now that you have the size of space figured out, it is time to decide if you wish to fill it with one large piece, a few medium pieces or several smaller works of art. When hanging an even number of equally sized square or rectangular pieces, they tend to look best when laid out in a row or grid pattern. Unevenly numbered groupings or groupings of differing sizes and shapes usually look better in more staggered layout patterns as shown in the photo above. Tape off a section of your floor to indicate the space you wish to fill and finalize the arrangement in that space before transferring it to the wall.

3. Height
As a general rule, although it does not apply in all cases (i.e. above a couch or bed), the center of the piece of art or group of pieces should be at eye level – approximately 60″ above the floor.

4. Color and Texture
Variation in frames can either make for a visually interesting grouping, or a visual nightmare depending on how it is done. Sticking with a theme, while safe, helps to ensure a favorable outcome. When varying the texture or style of frames, try to keep the frames within a narrow color palette. If all frames are of a similar style you have more room to play with variations in color.

Note: although painters tape is gentle, it still can do damage to walls and floors if you are not careful.