Paintings, drawings and sculptures are often chosen for their sheer beauty and ability to lift us out of the functional, everydayness of life. Accordingly, these special objects deserve the time and attention it takes to display them properly in the home.
While a huge amount of decisions around the subject of art are controversial and often very subjective, there are a few, simple and universal themes that will help guide anyone in the process of adding artwork to a home. Generally speaking, a perfectly hung piece of artwork or well-placed sculpture, will invite you to linger and take a moment of stillness in your day.
Come with us on a tour of a few ideas and a peek at some beautiful artwork.
A frame separates the art from its surrounding space. Frank Zappa once said, “without this humble appliance, you can’t know where the art stops and the real world begins.” But cool quotes aside, the decision to frame or not is largely a personal preference.
Framing offers the benefit of providing a protective layer between an artwork and the perils of moisture, insects and accidental damage. This is particularly useful when it comes to delicate works. But there are plenty of others who love the raw, earthy look of unframed art, particularly works on canvas, with the messy, workmanlike corners laid bare. If you love this idea, burst out of the box with a bohemian decor like this one by He.d Creative Group. The room has a mysterious, raw look accented by the bare light-globes and the decision to simply lean the unframed canvas up against the wall.
People tend to hang pictures a little too high on the wall. The general advice is to find the dead centre of the picture then make sure that this spot in the artwork sits at 57 inches above the ground. This means that your hook will need to be a little higher. This height is the average eye level of most people and will form the midline of the other wall elements in the room.
If you decide to create a whole wall of hanging art. Start by hanging a prominent piece at this level and then create a grid of other pictures and objects around it. This doesn't necessarily mean that every object needs to be exactly the same size. It just means that there should be some kind of linear link back to the primary object, even if it just means all of the smaller pictures are exactly half the size of the largest artwork. This way, the most disparate grouping of objects will still have a sense of harmony.
Art should never be hidden away in a dark corner of the home, unless it's really quite bad and you're displaying it out of loyalty to a family member! But the great thing about hanging artwork is that it can be used to decorate an awkward corner or spot that might be otherwise underutilised. Staircases often offer some unusual wall spaces and they're great because they offer occupants an interesting view as they ascend.
Other interesting options include the trend of recent towards hanging artwork in kitchens and bathrooms. While this often creates a homely aesthetic, it's important to consider that these areas receive a lot of moisture. A dehumidifier will help, but more valuable artworks are best relegated to living areas and hallways.
People travel more than ever these days and this means that we often have better access to interesting ethnic sculptures and decorative items. As seen here, a variety of objects can be unified by dramatic accent lighting. A wall cabinet or built in cupboard is also a great place to display small sculptures because it means they're out of the way of curious children and clumsy adults.
There's no colour here, but that's the point. It's a monochromatic living room with monochromatic art and it looks great. But as well as this works, incorporating existing colour schemes doesn't need to be so carefully aligned. If an artwork possesses the same dominant colour theme as the room, the danger is that a room can look at bit too matchy matchy, for want of a more sophisticated term. Incorporating colour schemes can be playful and light-hearted. Often all a room needs is an artwork with a small detail or colour pattern in the artwork that reflects the colours in the furnishings or pillows.
Last but definitely not least, consider the huge benefits of dedicated lighting. Accent lighting or spot lighting artworks is an excellent way to feature artwork and will also add interest to an overall lighting scheme. Common problems include glare on artworks framed in glass or oil paintings with glossy reflective surfaces. A simple non-reflective glass will often solve this problem.
Track lighting is the most flexible way to light hanging artwork, but it might be a bit over the top for a simple picture. While it's best to create an even light, there's no general rule except to experiment, try a variety of different angles, wall lights and fixtures and see how a painting and particularly a sculpture changes when it's lit from different sides.
If you are interested in home art ideas, you might like this Ideabook: Create antique looks for your home on a budget