There seemed to be rules at one time, but almost all of them can be challenged. The more eclectic styles become-the old rules just don’t always apply.
In my opinion there are some basics, I guess you could call them rules, but I have broken them…and often. Following are my thoughts about art, I hope you have some takeaways. And for you “rule followers” out there – you can call them rules if it makes you sleep better at night.
It used to be said that small art went in small spaces and big art in big spaces- not so much. There are some guidelines that you can follow unless there is a reason not to (see what I mean about rules?). I love creating drama (not the kind of drama you are probably thinking of). I am talking the kind of drama you get by putting a huge painting in a small space such as a powder room or niche (a niche is a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament).
If you are hanging art over your sofa or bed, there is a pretty good chance you will want it to cover about 70% of the horizontal space, or for a standard size sofa, think about 50-60” wide.
However, you can always add components to the side of the art to stretch it out, or from top to bottom to stretch it up.
You can always add something to the art to add size, other than art. If you have a favorite piece that is smaller than what the space calls for and you really want it there, add touches or texture, i.e.: wall sconces, sculpture etc.
Walls are getting bigger, taller, longer and to cover that with art, although cool could be a challenge (not for me- call me!). My thought is if you are not going to cover a long wall with art, position the art according to a start or stop point of the wall, such as a door or corner. Putting one piece in the middle of a long wall is awkward and lonely.
WHERE AND HOW TO HANG
When you are looking at where to hang, I have always used the rule of thumb that the top third of the art subject should be at eye level to the average height or about 60-65” above the floor.
When you are hanging above a sofa or table, give it about 6” to breath above the surface.
Another “rule” (this rule may be mine and mine alone, but I’m kinda weird about this one) and it has to do with collaging art. I detest art or anything that is hung together that is randomly placed together with no justification. Don’t confuse this with random collections…LOVE those! What I insist on is where they are hung in relation to each other. I feel that the eye moves and tracks better when there is systematic placement. So, if you want to collage, and one of the pieces is framed with a 4” frame and the rest of the frames are smaller, use the 4” as your spacing guide. Hang the pieces with 4” above, below, on the sides, etc. and grid it using a base line. The eye will see one of the pieces and track easily to the others, moving through the collection. If you are rolling your eyes and telling yourself that is bullshit – that’s fine. It’s what I do for my clients, it’s my rule and it’s My blog, so there!
PUTTING ART TOGETHER
I love all styles of design, and love being asked to do projects holding true to a style. I also love mixing it up. My own personal style is old and new combined. I love traditional backdrops and permanent selections/style and artwork that is both……….and often together (what do you mean by “permanent selections/style”?). Abstract art lets your mind wander. It allows you to decide what you’re looking at where traditional art tells you what to look at.
Look at me, I am a landscape with a cloudy sky and a river. You can lose yourself in that landscape, but it is a landscape, you can’t turn it into a monkey no matter how hard you try. In this example, I love that this original Dennis Sheehan painting flanked by the two contemporary pieces. They relate in color, but definitely not style. I love that it drags the center art to meet the scale of the mantle, and I love that the frame is goopy on the traditional and refined and sleek on the contemporary. I also love how the contemporary painting creates order by the lines and geometric shapes. This composition rocks!
CREATE A COLLECTION
Make sure you are not making your home YOUR gallery. As painful as it is, art should be a collection for the people that live in your home. Share the fun of allowing pieces that you may hate, but your better half loves. Make them fit into a collection or a dramatic statement on the wall——now that’s love!
ART ONLY GOES ON WALLS OR EASLES
Art is such an interesting part of décor and there just aren’t enough walls, so be creative. Put art in places that you don’t expect. Art can be layered on mantles, leaned on the floor if its large enough, used on bookshelves or hung onto the shelves themselves (yes, the outside of the shelves).
Art can be used to display other collectibles,
used in prep kitchens as a backdrop (if they are not frequently used).
or set on nightstands, especially mirrored ones for a glorious effect.
Finally………my favorite- think outside! Art is sooooo unexpected outside but it turns the setting into a room- phenomenal!
ART IS JUST FOR ADMIRING
Not anymore- think of ways that art can be added to your surroundings. Who wants to look at a TV when it’s not on (sometimes even when it IS on)? Cover it with art. This art on a sliding track in a master bedroom allows everyone to think we talk, share thoughts on our day, practice deep breathing and mindfulness when we go to bed.
NOPE- just want you to think that, we’re really just watching Jimmy Kimmel like everyone else in the world.
So in summary- who needs stinking rules….. but if you do, here are mine;
Buy what you love.
Don’t be a slave to scale, but don’t ignore it either.
Add on if you need to by collaging or adding components.
Don’t just hang collages – follow some sort of grid.
Layer it up, add it to places you never thought of for the wow.
It’s ok to have art that isn’t your design style.
Share the walls so everyone is happy.
Art loves to disguise, let it.
Remember your outdoor settings.
Respect it as the jewelry of the home, because it is.