Hanging on: How to curate paintings, prints and photos on your walls

Hanging on: How to curate paintings, prints and photos on your walls
Clean monochrome simplicity which doesn’t get hung up on using perfect negative space measurements

Those acres of enclosing wall — push them back with an artful shuffle.

Seasoned decorators, together with paintings, drawings, and snaps, throw it all out there, lashing up eclectic treasure from a shower of glittering old hand mirrors to battered kitchenalia, sculpture, and exquisite antique rugs.

When you compose a picture group, think about plucking off one conventional, framed piece and inserting some fascinating oddity instead some fascinating oddity.

Aspect? Keep watercolours, photographs, ephemera, and art prints out of blistering direct light.

If there’s exquisite small detail, allow the viewer close enough to dive in.

Height right

The single biggest mistake in hanging artwork is to maroon them above the ears. Many compound this by abandoning a shy wall-flower in an endless expanse of nude wall.

That said, art galleries leave at least 30% of their walls blank to “breathe”.

Try centring the picture at 145cm-160cm high if the work will be seen largely while standing (around the eye-line of the smallest adult).

Huge punchy pictures can be hung fairly low. Use them as dramatic wall fillers, teamed to a lo-backed sofa.

Try something two-thirds the width of the seating or table. Canvases stretched over frames,without glazing, are at risk of punctures.

Think protectively with positioning.

For levelling and hanging multiples, invest in the aptly named Hang & Level tool (about €6 on Amazon).

Linear rhythms

Hanging on: How to curate paintings, prints and photos on your walls

Company elevates the status of dull singles or small works. Create a horizontal display, centred on your one measured, levelled line.

Create a rhythm to shorten a long hall and use odd numbers after two — the eye prefers it.

You can really push those walls around with the right placement. Try lining up the top edges of frames.

Discreetly different. Emphasise a strong relationship with the pictures by coming closer and then finesse with that “negative space” along your guideline.

Lay the arrangement out on the floor or prop them on the skirting board while you work — it will have that rightness to your eye.

With two elements (furniture and a framed piece), scale the work (or complete group) to the dominant feature below.

Identically framed pictures call for uncompromising symmetry, but for a multi-level grouping of variously-sized pictures, draw an imaginary line to make a border around the lot.

Setting the frames to the edge of this master frame, you can make up a simple rectangle or square.

Otherwise, starting at the centre picture, form a cross, two or three single lines or push out an elastic boundary to form a vertical or horizontal diamond.

The gimble in your head will flag the visual balance with surrounding features or furniture.

Try groups inside a wider group — part of a connected collection to be searched through like a visual box of chocolates.

If a pair or larger group are seen from a distance, their cohesion matters more, as you just pick up on size and shape.

A standalone picture can marry up with, say, a lamp or occasional chair, as its companion piece.

Random eclectic

Hanging on: How to curate paintings, prints and photos on your walls

Teaming disparate pictures can be very organic — led by the size, media, colour, framing, surroundings, and the content of the work.

Bravely mix up slender black modern frames with extravagant antique carving — don’t be afraid of this dramatic dialogue.

Again, as long as nothing is screaming so loudly it drowns out the presence of something else, it will look fascinating.

A clever way to deal with challenging sizes and shapes is to make up newspaper blanks of each work, and suspend them on the wall to try out arrangements.

Hang the pictures directly over them when you’re ready, using your level and measuring tape. Alternatively, use low tack painter’s tape to “draw” frames.

Upstairs downstairs

Hanging on: How to curate paintings, prints and photos on your walls

Go for a full gallery wall (treated as wallpaper), or put up confident singles and groups to climb the stairs.

Vertically inclined pictures followed by a horizontal work or a nice pair of frames will look more interesting than the thud-thud-thud of exactly the same size and scale of picture.

Tiny, lonely pictures die on a gloomy staircase. Ensure those gilded, scrambled egg frames are not so deep they will catch a shoulder.

Ikea offers a primer using paper forms — a must-see for tackling awkward spaces and architectural elements.

To finish, use a slice of wine cork or a wad of Blutac to hold bottom corners of the frame off the wall.

Wall wise

Always ensure you choose the correct fixings of the wall type if you’re not using moulding in a proper picture rail.

Large frames swinging on one nail can surrender and will take a ragged chunk of wall with them.

Plan for cross lighting with spots or natural illumination, shielding glass from obscuring glare.

Having determined the hanging point, drill out two hook positions to keep weighty frames from going repeatedly cock-eyed as you frolic over floors and slam doors.

For masonry, insert wall-plugs,followed by a matched hook or screw. Use a stud finder for a timber-frame wall.

The variety that identifies power cabling and pipes (€12-€23) is an investment in your survival.

Finally, experiment with the casual frame lean and layering of small paintings on a surface, floor or shelf — effortless elegance.

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