Decorating Vertical Spaces
An artist may love a blank canvas, but for many of us, a blank slate can be intimidating—especially when it’s in your home. How do you fill an empty wall? There’s the standard fare of paintings, posters, and pictures, but there is a host of nontraditional options as well.
This article will cover (no pun intended):
Don’t get us wrong: we love anything in a frame. A painting, a family portrait, kids’ art, scarves, or wallpaper—you name it, and we’ll frame it. But that’s not the only way to dress up a wall. Consider the following options.
- Shelving: Break up a wall of flat art and/or photos with shelving or a structural bookcase on which you can display your accessories. You can also lean some of your framed art on the shelves to add dimension to a gallery.
- Found objects: Everyday items take on new style when cleaned up and hung on the wall. Shop thrift stores for old wooden oars or skis. Hang up your baskets. Reclaimed wood and factory-inspired objects are in vogue. Clean them up and affix them to the wall for inexpensive, yet striking wall art.
- Mirrors: Mirrors can do wonders for a room. They add light and depth, expand a small room, and even bring the outside in if placed across from a window. Collect a variety of mirrors from thrift stores and garage sales. Hang them as is or paint the frames the same color and set them off against a wall in a contrasting hue.
- Rugs: Rugs are often considered “floor art,” but why not utilize their artistic sensibilities on the wall? They add color and texture and can easily fill a large, open space.
- Wall decals: Wall decals are a popular and inexpensive way to add art to a blank wall. They come in a variety of shapes and patterns, as well as literary sayings.
- Shadow boxes: Not sure what to do with all those seashells and starfish from your beach vacation? Arrange them in a shadow box and hang it on the wall. Shadow boxes are a great way to add dimension and to memorialize special memories or momentous life occasions.
- Flat art: All these fancy ideas aside, flat art endures as the perfect way to add a little oomph to a wall. But it doesn’t have to be the standard painting or picture. Consider:
- Rather than buying someone else’s art for your room, create your own piece of artwork or frame your children’s art. Everything looks great in a nice frame.
- Love a wallpaper pattern, but can’t afford to do the whole wall? Buy a sample and frame it.
- Is your grandmother’s hanky too pretty to use? Frame it and hang it in a sweet spot.
- Need to fill a large space? Look for panel art, which adds interest and generally fills a larger space.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a frame that is 1–3 inches larger in dimension than the picture.
- Coordinate frame colors and styles with your existing frames and the overall look of your room.
- Avoid poorly made frames that will detract from your art. Check for corner gaps and flaking or discoloration of finish.
- Choose a mat shade and texture based on colors that stand out in the picture.
- To draw attention to a small piece of art, the mat should be at least six inches larger.
- Use matching frames or mats to unite a group of artwork that doesn’t have a common color or theme
Hanging art is not as simple as it sounds. Interior designers often cite artwork hung too high or too low as the main reason why a room feels “off.” But we’ve got you covered with 10 tips for hanging art.
1. Artwork should hang approximately 6–9 inches above your furniture.
2. The artwork should be about 2/3 of the size of the piece of furniture over which it hangs. If you’re using a smaller piece of artwork, group it together with other pictures or wall art.
3. When not placed over furniture, artwork should be 66 inches from the floor.
4. A vertical arrangement adds height to a room.
5. A horizontal arrangement widens a room.
6. A rectangular or oval piece works well above a mantel or sofa.
7. Add interest to a group of prints by hanging them in a circular arrangement.
8. Anchor a gallery by placing larger pieces on the bottom.
9. Arrange your gallery on the floor and try different combinations before hanging the pieces on the wall.
10. Trace and cut the shapes of your artwork on paper bags and tape them up to get a better idea of spacing on the wall.