The Art of Displaying Art

Designer Jayne Pelosi, author of Interior Divine: Walking You Through the Transformation of Your Home, shares foolproof ways to make compelling displays.

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June 16, 2015
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Buy What You Love

The key to displaying art is buying what you love and surround yourself with it. It doesn't have to be expensive or valuable to provide you with great pleasure on a daily basis.

Hang at the Right Height

Prints or portraits should be hung at approximately the eye level of a person standing between 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall. The goal is to be able to enjoy the artwork at a natural level, not to have to be looking up at it.

Create a Grouping

When creating a display on a large wall, hang artwork close together rather than scattered across the space. Even if hanging pictures over a couch or buffet, don't feel they have to be spaced out over the entire furniture piece. Try to have the pieces equidistant from each other, but centered over the middle third or half of the focal point.

Build a Gallery Over Time

If building a collage over time, start in the center with a cluster of pictures you can gradually fill the wall space around the cluster without having to take pieces down, patch holes and start over. Play with pieces by taping paper templates up on the wall or spreading the art on the floor and shuffling them around until you get the look you want.

The Power of Small

"While I do tend to favor oversized rather than undersized artwork on most walls (too-small artwork sometimes appears stingy), small artwork can be used for effect. The intentional use of diminutive frames virtually beckons you to step closer," says Pelosi.

Going for the Grid

When hanging a collage of themed photography, rely on the style standby of matte black picture frames. They don't compete with the artwork and provide an elegant boundary. In this display, the repetition of black and white photography is what provides the excitement. The punctuation pop of the red lampshade doesn't hurt, either.

Mix Frame Styles

Almost any frame style and finish can coexist beautifully, including antique brass, forged and tooled iron, painted ceramic and mosaic glass frames. Display a riot of different picture frames and finishes all on one surface to create a one-of-a-kind mix.

Add a Mat

In general, matting adds elegance and a finished professional touch to artwork. Mats highlight the colors and subject matter in the piece.

High-Ceiling Solutions

When a room's ceiling seems a bit uncomfortably high, consider hanging artwork above the doors. That's what we did in this kitchen with 9-foot ceilings. We purposely created a step effect with the framed pictures in an attempt to bring your eye down into the slightly cavernous kitchen.

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