How To: 8 Tips to Arrange Artwork & Photography for Maximum Impact

My most favorite home accents are the art and photography we’ve collected over the years.  I treasure the modest pieces we’ve gathered along our travels and special moments captured with the girls.  These pieces personalize our home and fill it with wonderful memories.

I’ve learned so many tips to upgrade the look of these pieces for just the right impact.  And I’m sharing those lessons here.

1.  Relate to the furniture.

The art or photograph should be placed approximately 6 inches above the piece of furniture.  Tightening the space creates a little vignette of goodness and warmth, as if the art is part of the furniture.  Our talented friends Marcy and Keith taught us this quaint, elegant trick.  And it’s my favorite.

Here’s an example.

See the gold etched piece hung on the back of this built-in shelf?  I love this eclectic little cat.  This is the vignette idea.


And the same guideline goes for hanging pieces above a mantel.  The fireplace and space above become the equivalent of a large piece of furniture.

master fireplace 11.7.14

2. Seeing double.

I like pairing similar prints, and the larger the better.  This placement creates an elongated look that expands the space.  I leave 2-4 inches between the frames.


3.  The stacked look.

Stacking art or photography creates the illusion of a taller space.  Again, I like coordinating colors that draw the eye up.


I also like to play around with a stacked look of larger piece to smaller like this.  It creates the same tall illusion but in a more interesting way, I think.


4.  Hang at eye level.

The general rule of hanging artwork is to place the center of the piece at eye level.  Most galleries suggest this is 58 inches.  Which is a lot lower than I first expected.  It’s also important to hang pieces at the same height throughout the room.  This creates a sense of balance and harmony.

5.    Dimensions matter.

The artwork or photography dimensions should be approximately 75% of the width of the furniture piece.  Any smaller and it looks miniature.  Any larger and it overpowers.  Here’s an example where the art is an amazing mirror.


6.  Test the look before committing.

A great way to test the look before hanging is to trace the outline of each frame and tape the cut out to the wall.  It’s much easier to rearrange the look until it’s just right.  And no extra nail holes in the wall.


7.  Invest in a quality frame and matting.

My top tip for upgrading artwork, which is perfect for pieces I’ve found at estate sales, is to invest in a quality frame and matting.  Marcy and Keith taught us this little trick too.  They are masters at finding unique treasures and upgrading them to masterpieces.

Multiple times a year Michael’s and Hobby Lobby run sales for 60% off custom framing, and it’s worth it.  I’ve found the sales associates to be very knowledgable and helpful at selecting the perfect contrasting mat and stylish frame.  It’s useful to tap into their expertise if you don’t naturally have an eye for this.  I know this because I don’t have that eye.

This tip really makes a difference to a complete and beautiful look.

8.  You don’t have to be an art collector to appreciate a nice piece. 

We were having dinner several years ago with the most elegant couple, and they gave us two great pieces of advice about art that we’ve adopted.

One, your opinion of beauty is the only one that matters.  If you love the piece, that’s what is important.  And two, each year they add one piece of art to their home.  They told us doing this creates a collection quicker than you think.

And we’ve done just that.  So maybe we are a year or two behind on the collecting, but we’ve followed this sage advice.  It’s great to pick up a piece from an artist in a small café or gallery, or to select something you love at a charity auction created by an art student.

Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be flashy to have maximum impact in your home.  I feel like my home is more complete and inviting when I have memories on the walls.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope these tips were helpful.

My best to you.


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