Four things even this male has learned from 20+ years of working with decorators and having it beaten into his head are:
- Pictures in rooms should look good when seated, most hang them too high.
- Pictures in hallways should be a little higher and look good when walking.
- The tops of the pictures should not all be the same height around a room.
- Tops of pictures should not align with the tops of windows or doors.
It is not absolutely necessary to fill up every blank space. An empty wall can be as interesting a feature as a cabinet of china, especially if the rest of your home is full of objects; one bare wall will provide a refreshing contrast. If you have an exquisite small painting or one large, important one, don't be afraid to give it a wall to itself. You will still have other walls for the more concentrated treatment which may be necessary if you want to display everything you own.
Group a collection of pictures close together so that they relate to one another or to other objects near them. They may relate in shape and size, in color, in having identical frames, in dealing with the same subject or in being a 'set' or series of prints. If portraits are included in this group, they will look best facing towards each other or into the center of the group.
Photographs often look better grouped in this way than displayed individually; seeing them in numbers gives them a strength they would not possess alone. They are normally much smaller than paintings and lack depth of color and brush-stroke. This is also a good way of making use of photographs which are otherwise so often just left to lie around loose in drawers.
When doing groupings always lay them out on the floor as you want to hang them on the wall. Pick one to be the focal point, hang it first and then hang all the others in relationship to that one.
Some small paintings hold their own when displayed individually, but some vanish into non-existence and will gain importance and interest if placed with others. When grouping pictures, it is usually more effective if you leave very little space between them. Grouped pictures can be symmetrical, in which case they should have identical frames, be of identical size and have a shared theme. Symmetry is by no means essential but groups should be balanced. Distribute wide or dark frames among narrower frames and balance one large picture with a number of smaller ones. It is a good idea to plan your arrangement on the floor before you put the pictures on the wall. This will give you a chance to readjust and rearrange them until you feel the result is pleasing.
Do not forget to use walls you might not normally think of for hanging pictures. The bathroom, lavatory and kitchen are usually treated as purely utility rooms and excellent display potential is neglected. If there is condensation (as there may well be in any of these rooms), it would be better to hang some other decoration such as plates which the damp cannot damage. If the room is warm and dry it will certainly benefit from a few pictures.
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