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The Art of Placement: Tips on Hanging Artwork in Your Home

Are you staring into the void of a large blank wall in your home? Adding some new artwork to an empty wall space can tie the whole room together, and help punctuate your central theme. Whether you are looking to add a bold splash of colour to a room or hang a few simple pieces, your wall art will act as an extension of your personality and taste. When dealing with a blank canvas, it can be intimidating to get started. Think of this wall not as a challenge, but an opportunity to show off your creative side. So, where do you start? Art is in the eye of the beholder, however, there are a few basic guidelines you can use to ensure success, especially if it is your first time buying and hanging wall art. 

Know Your Space

The most important step is knowing the space you are working with. Like the artwork itself, imagine your blank wall as the canvas, and your artwork as the brush. Are you filling a large, open space, or a narrow, limited space? You may jump the gun ordering some artwork you fell in love with online, only to find it too big, too much, or not a fit for things around it when it arrives. Measure your walls, and decide what hanging and layout style you want to go with. Pro tip: use frog tape on your walls to plan your layout before making any purchases. Some common wall art layout styles include:

The Focal Point: One large, centred piece that takes up the majority of a wall area. This style can also include smaller art hanging and emanating from the middle.

Shelf Leaning: Long shelving units with framed art sitting on the shelves leaning against the wall. This style is great for including all kinds of artwork, including vases, knick-knacks, collectibles, etc. 

Salon Style: An artwork medley of all different sizes and shapes to fill a large space. A fun and colourful way to make your room an expression of yourself using multiple pieces.

The Grid: A modern symmetric approach to art hanging in a grid-style layout. This can include one image broken up into smaller pieces, or separate pieces all part of a central theme. 

Looking to display some of your own artwork? Try using our Custom Frame Your Images service to print and frame any image you desire. 

Maintain Balance 

Whatever your hanging style preference is, they all share one uniform rule… keep the balance! A common mistake homeowners make is hanging art too high. Ideally, you want to arrange the centre of your artwork, whether it be one piece or a series, to sit at eye level. If you are more of a numbers person, the centre of your piece or collection should be about 57” above the floor. If your space has low ceilings, this rule is exempted and you should instead centre within the third quarter of the height of your wall. For hanging above a sofa or bed frame, allow a margin of ~8-10” above the highest point on the furniture. 

If you are hanging salon-style, the best practice is to place your largest piece in the centre and work around that piece. Try not to create an uneven balance with large prints or small prints segmented to one side or another. This is where it's best to arrange on the floor and snap a photo of your arrangement before starting to hang on the wall. 

Eye on Colour

Your choice of colour says a lot about you, and plays a grand role in the mood of your room. Cool tones of blue and green can emphasize calmness and relaxation, whereas vivid reds and yellows can feel bold and energetic. To make a room or wall pop, its easier to feature a bright, bold colour in a feature art piece rather than painting the walls of the space themselves with intense colours. When shopping for art by colour, there are two basic approaches:

  • Artwork that includes colours already present in your room. If you have a dark green wall, for example, light green will compliment nicely. If you are doubting your colour choices, stick to the timeless blacks, greys and whites and mix in colour somewhere else (even green leafy plants can change a room dramatically).
  • Artwork that presents daring splashes of new colour in the same colour scheme. Introduce new colours to your room in groups of two. If you have a white couch and your painting accentuates red, pick up a couple of decorative red pillows of the same shade.

Shopping by colour for your artwork on HFA is easy! Simply type the colour you are looking for in the art library search bar and instantly browse hundreds of images for your perfect art piece.

Art Beyond the Canvas

When it comes to hanging art in your home, the presentation does not end at the border of the canvas. How you decide to frame your pieces can completely change the overall theme of the room. Modern and contemporary pieces will typically be complimented by thinner, minimalistic style framing. For more traditional pantings, like portraits, a classical frame (usually oak or wood variant) will show off the painting to the best effect. When choosing your frame colour, keep in mind the undertones of the room it will be hung in. You want your furniture materials (coffee tables, tv stands, etc.) and your art frames to be all uniform or complimentary. When framing, refer back to the 57” rule! Framing can add upwards of 3-5 inches on all ends of your artwork, so double-check that it will fit properly in your space.

The Magic of Mirrors

The best place to hang a mirror is in an area that will reflect light from a window with a view of the outside or a lighting fixture. The illusion of more space is created when your mirror bounces light around the room, giving a window effect. Small rooms like bathrooms, guest bedrooms, and narrow hallways can benefit greatly from this effect. The same rules for hanging artwork also apply to mirrors, but even more so with hanging at eye level. If a mirror is hung too high, it will reflect the roof - not very flattering. Likewise if a mirror is hung too low, you're going to see your midsection or the lower half of your furniture. Mirrors are usually quite heavy, so ensure that you are using hollow wall anchors if necessary.

Looking for artwork to turn your room from bland to grand? Browse our selection of over 250,000 pieces ready to be printed and custom framed! 

1 comment

  • LeanneSep 27, 2020

    Love this post! My personal favorite style of displaying wall art is salon or shelf leaning, but it was very insightful to recognize the different options we have in a variety of spaces! Also, I wasn’t aware of the 57" rule, but now I can hang my art with confidence knowing it will be in the right viewing area. Thanks for these helpful tips!

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