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Turn your living room into a gallery

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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If you love art, there's every chance you occasionally make the effort to head out and enjoy an inspirational art exhibition or spend hours looking at artwork online. When you return to the rather ordinary world of the average living room, things can seem quite dull in comparison. But what if you could make something more of your living room, what if you could turn it into a place to gaze at some beautiful art and while away a few hours? Perhaps you could even have a living room with the power to lift you out of the every day and remind you that life is more than just the routines of ordinary existence?

It is possible and it doesn't need to cost a lot of money. Anyone who loves art can turn their living room into a gallery. Of course you need some artworks to start with, but that doesn't necessarily mean spending a lot of money. Good quality prints or even beautiful objects could suffice. The trick is to find a way to give them prominence. So let's move the television out of the way and get started!

Hanging space

Contemporary art galleries allow for lots and lots of white space around each artwork, but this isn't always possible in a home interior. The older, classic salon style of hanging artwork is to bunch everything close together as seen here. There's no magic answer to what will work for your space, but it helps to consider each approach and decide what you like best. In general, a tiny piece will seem dwarfed if it's surrounded by lots of open space. Similarly, a very large, dense or intense artwork can quickly overwhelm a small living space.

Choose your hanging height

 Living room by Whitaker Studio
Whitaker Studio

West London Home by Sybarite Architects

Whitaker Studio

When hanging wall art, the most common mistake is to hang the artwork too high. Find the dead centre of the artwork and make sure this point sits around 57 inches above the floor. That's the average eye level of most people. Don't forget that this means your hook will need to be a little higher.

Once you have this midpoint, you can then arrange all the other artworks along this line. If you are creating a salon style wall, place something large or prominent in this position. Then arrange the other smaller artworks in a configuration around it. This doesn't mean they need to be at the exact same height, it just means that they need to work within a larger grid or pattern.

Add a little pizzazz with some sculptures

 Living room by BB Interior
BB Interior

Living room

BB Interior

When buying artwork, we tend to think of wall art by default. But sculptures are a really lovely and totally unique addition to a living room gallery. If you travel a lot, you probably have a few curious objects and ethnic artefacts that would do really well in a prominent position. The key is to give them pride of place and add some really fantastic accent lighting. Just look at this living room gallery for inspiration. It was designed by BB interior designers and the cabinet lights are just stunning. Cabinet and overhead lights are really cheap and convenient these days. All you need to do is invest in a few strip lights.

To frame or not to frame

Everyone seems to go a little crazy when it comes to framing. But a frame isn't always a necessity and sometimes it's even a distraction. A heavy frame can overwhelm the artwork and add a visual weight that's not always helpful. In general, consider the art materials and weigh up the benefits of the frame. Delicate, paper-based or very expensive artworks will definitely need a waterproof and insect proof layer. This is particularly important if your living room sits adjacent to a kitchen. But oil based paintings on the other hand are quite resilient. So go easy on the framing, it'll save money anyway.

Considering the wall colours

There's a reason contemporary galleries always have white, white walls. This is because white naturally takes a back step and allows the artwork its due prominence. White is also a neutral base that will work with a whole range of works. 

But galleries haven't always been white. In the 18th century European galleries were often painted intense, rich colours. Whatever your preference, you'll need to carefully consider the hue. See here how well the painting here works against the subtle, grey-blue wall. It works because the wall colour reflects some of the hues in the paintings. At the same time the saturation has been dialled back so the artworks still jump out at us. 

Displaying objects

 Living room by Whitaker Studio
Whitaker Studio

London Apartment by Sybarite Architects

Whitaker Studio

The most ordinary objects around the house can be quite beautiful when you examine them with fresh eyes. Perhaps you could hang an extremely ornate dress or shawl that you love, but rarely use. Perhaps you have some older or unused wooden musical instruments like this? The point is that art has never been confined to a canvas. It exists in the pretty shadows that fall on the ground, the design of your everyday objects or a cheap little postcard you might pick up from a flea market. If you can find art in the everyday objects, you'll never have a problem refreshing your living room gallery.

If you are interested in art, you'll love this Ideabook Murals and street art.

Have you tried to create a gallery in your home? Let us know about it in the comments field below.
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