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How to arrange pictures on a wall

The art of creating wall arrangements is more than just hanging pictures -
try these tips to add life to each group of art

Art pieces, photos, posters, and even collectibles can display nicely on the walls of your home. First, look at the objects you want to hang. Figure out how you want to group them and then look at available space.

Do not limit your choices to space over the sofa or above the fireplace. Plenty of other areas can offer up space including hallways, staircases, lighted corners, and as a complement to larger sculptures.

You can group pieces that are the same size or are a variety of shapes - it does not matter, but pre-planning will help you place these objects in a pleasing manner.

First, look at your frames. If any of them are made of the same materials, then try putting those together. Next, look at mat colors and place those together. Last, and still important, what type of art do you want to place as a group? Obviously, photos of family members should form small groups according to frame type. But larger art pieces can easily mix and match in one of two ways.

Formal balance: If you have two, four, or six pictures in frames that are the same size, aim for a formal balance over a large piece of furniture. Set a central, vertical line and place the pictures to either side. The perimeter shape of the group would be square or rectangular.

Informal balance: Mix and match large and small pictures to form an irregular-shaped grouping. A good guide for informal balance is to let some focal points of the art line up with each other, whether it is the bottom and top of frames, or the mats, or objects within the pieces themselves. In other words, the top of one frame might align with the bottom of the next frame. Then on the opposite side, the bottom of that frame might line up with the first. This technique can work both vertically and horizontally.

Widths between pictures do not have to be exact and, often, placement that appears random can be visually stunning.

For smaller groupings, try these arrangements

However, pre-planning still helps, regardless of what format you choose. Draw layouts to exact size or to scale. You may find it more time-consuming to layout out to exact size, but this method will make your work go faster in the long term. Use newspaper to create shapes to the exact size of the art. Use masking tape to place them on the wall and step back to check for balance. Once you have determined placement, you can mark the approximate location of hangers and nail holes.

With the scale placement method, you can use the computer to determine which arrangement works best. You can also make miniature cutouts and play with the design.

If you are hanging pictures on a staircase or in a hallway, try to stick with smaller frames. Larger works have great impact when viewed from a distance, as in across a room. The effect will be lost in a tighter space. In close spaces, you can be more flexible with a random, mix-and-match placement.

When using an informal balance in a larger space, select one picture as the focal point. It will typically be the largest in the group. Surround it with the other pictures or keep the others to the top, bottom, and side; this type of balance lends itself to your own creativity.

In the world of wall arrangements, a few don'ts exist.

The most critical no-no is overcrowding. Never try to place too many pictures in one area. Consider breaking them up into smaller units and give each group plenty of space. If you have only a few pictures to hang, spread them out, but not too far. White space - the area around a frame and between companion art - is nice, but you have to find a balance.

Do not hang pictures too low or too high. Too high and they may lose impact; too low and they become larger-than-life. The main subject in your focal piece of art should be just below eye-level of someone standing. That means that seated guests can still enjoy the picture.

With that said, do not be afraid to break the too-high rule, especially if you have a collection of bold art with heavy, ornate frames. Cathedral ceilings lend themselves to higher placement as long as your largest focal picture remains at eye level. You can literally go as high as you wish as long as you can see the art from some point in the room without craning your neck. This is quite a dramatic arrangement and can increase the "awe" factor if the space is adequate.

Ultimately, what pleases you is what will work best in your living space. Take these suggestions and work them into your own sense of style - you can rarely go wrong.




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