We recently gave a talk to a group of art patrons on the art of buying, collecting, framing, lighting and hanging art. We kept coming across all kinds of rules that we disagreed with and ended up changing our talk to “Breaking the rules.” When it comes to hanging art, we’ve got lots of rules to break! Here are some of our faves:
- Buy for a space No! If you have a big wall and the painting doesn’t fit, add sconces or plates or accessorize around it. If you buy what you love, you can make it work; remember you’ll always have the painting but not the space.
- Large paintings can overwhelm small rooms. Not necessarily. A large painting can make a small room have more personality, and look bigger, bolder and different. We always welcome a juxtaposition of styles, sizes and colors.
- Small art won’t work in large rooms: Oh yes it will! Don’t hang a small painting by itself on a big wall, but do create a grouping of different sized paintings together. Or find a small space in a big room for a small jewel.
- Paintings should be hung over a mantel. No rule says that a painting should be hung. It might look great leaning on the mantel, hung over a mirror, propped on a floor or sitting unexpectedly in its very own chair!
- Groupings should be framed identically: No again. Groupings work best if there is one thread of consistency either in color, style, medium or frame that weaves the grouping together. The magic is in the mix.
- An art wall should be symmetrical: No, we think some of the most interesting art walls have an organic feel, like they’ve been added to and collected over time. Just keep one thing consistent, like the spacing between the paintings. For more about art walls, check out our blog on gallery walls:
- Keep your décor similar. No! What looks better than an abstract painting you love mixed with your traditional furnishings? Or traditional art in a contemporary room? A great mix always gives the room energy.
- Marry the art with the theme of the room: Don’t do it! Avoid the clichés of putting like subjects in like rooms, and embrace the unexpected, like an 18th century landscape in the kitchen or a gorgeous nude in the living room.
A contemporary painting needs a contemporary frame: Not necessarily! We love to marry a cool abstract with an ornate gold frame and often put our traditional paintings in contemporary “floater” frames, just as we love to mix framed and unframed pieces together.
So what’s the bottom line here? Embrace the art and break the rules. We say it over and over again: When you buy what you love, it will work wherever it goes. And that is one rule we will never break!