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How to hang art in your home

Left-a-bit-right-a-bit. Yup, that's it.... we speak to the experts at an award-winning gallery to demystify the art of hanging art. Rawlplugs at the ready?

Dog on sofa with art on the wall
Darl-e and the Bear / Richard Fox: Looking into Time II, Meisterwerk Zaru Blue cushion 

So you’ve fallen in love with a piece of art. You’ve bought it. You’ve got it home. Now, how to do it justice by hanging it right… 

The beauty of everything ‘arty’ – colour, movement, form, texture and the general glorious nature of art – is something we all need to get lost in, inspired by and escape to (especially when even just boarding a train into town to the Tate feels a step too far!) . Art can be that little landscape oil that brings back happy memories or it might be an enormous canvas that screams LOOK AT ME!! There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to hanging art, but there are few key things you should always consider.

HOW TO CHOOSE ART

Firstly, love the artwork, it will be with you for a long time. If it doesn’t make you tingle, then you just don’t love it enough. Struggling to decide? Have a natter with the gallery owner or artist – both love interaction and will always be happy to talk about their work. You might fall in love with the story behind it. Don’t be afraid to approach them. 

A little bit of planning, some preparation and a few drops of perspiration is required to choose the perfect piece of wall theatre. Having a spot in mind can help. Then ask yourself, is this for a specific spot? Will it fit? Is it too heavy to hang? Measuring and checking the wall structure beforehand will save tears later. 

WILL IT GO WITH MY DECOR?

Darl-e and the Bear/ Tracy Burgess: When Hearts Collide, Meisterwerke Gobelin Zaru Green Cushion

Don’t be afraid to be bold when mixing contrasting patterns and wall colour across a scheme. Harmonising with an eclectic mix of different art pieces, fabric patterns and furniture with one or two grounding common tones will pull everything together. 

WHAT TO DISPLAY NEXT TO MY ARTWORK?

Darl-e and the Bear / Nathalie Maquet: Fete 8 and Fete 7 and Lucy Gray: Three prayers. 

Sculpture and carefully-curated displays of grouped ceramics, together with the contrasting organic forms of plants can create dramatic, inviting, spaces. Nature makes us feel good and has a calming effect. It’s the perfect foil to art. On this note, try to bring the outside in by using natural materials – or better yet – buy artwork from local craftspeople who use sustainable materials. It comes with feel-good factor and is a story to tell. 

DOES THE BACKGROUND NEED TO BE NEUTRAL?

Darl-e and the Bear / Robyn Litchfield The Hollow Place, Gabriel Chaim: Top – Giotto II and Giotto VIII

Contrary to what many people believe, dark wall colours can make a small space feel larger, so can placing a large-scale painting within a smaller scale area. There is no right or wrong place to hang your art. Having the confidence to say “this is where I want it”, feels good. No one would comment on a wall of wallpaper – why not use a painting to do the same? 

DOES IT HAVE TO GO ON A WALL?

Darl-e and the Bear / Amy Mcmillan: Heart Centre and Liquid Love, Steven Heffer: Seaford Cliffs, Lucy Brasher: Keeper of Keys on Chair, Corinna Button: In the Groove, Trudie Mooney: Blue and White Bowl with lavendar, Joseph Bull: Anagama Small teracup

If the idea of actually physically hanging anything is too much, use shelves, ledges, nooks and crannies to group varying sizes of works, personal curios and loved objects together. Lean photographs or prints and paintings for a textural touch and create a display of interest and intrigue. 

If you have more artworks than wall, do consider storing excess work and regularly -perhaps quarterly or half yearly – changing them over. 

HOW TO PROTECT IT

Will the artwork be affected by sunlight? The gallery or artist should be able to answer this question – do not be afraid to ask! If ‘glazed’, is the glass non-reflective to guard against reflections, or ‘UV’ glass, which will act in a similar way but also stop Ultraviolet light wavelengths from degrading the piece. 

WHAT DO I NEED IN MY TOOLBOX 

Materials required to hang are really quite simple: a tape measure to ensure the artwork hangs centrally to the area chosen; a drill and extension cable if the plug socket is further than the reach of your drill; screws and plaster rawlplugs suitable for the size screw; a pencil to mark where you have measured; a screwdriver; and a spirit level. 

IS THERE A PERFECT HEIGHT?

Ideally the centre of a piece of artwork should be 150 cm from the ground (that being the average human eye level, and the height galleries and museums hang pieces). Though we do find sometimes it has to be done by eye! 

HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S RIGHT? 

Try having fun by playing with different positions, combinations and schemes across your room or area. It’s a job you need to leave a bit of time for – it will, after all, be there for years. Does it work for you? Leave it for a second look the next day – this will often help clarify things. 

Attention to details like spacing (especially if grouping works together), and making sure it looks dead straight, will give that professional look. Most of all, be proud to own a one-off piece and enjoy it! 

Words from Muddy Award winning galley Darl-e and the Bear

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