Displaying Artwork: Asymmetrically

Last week was the start of this series on displaying art in the home (don’t miss the first article on hanging artwork symmetrically) and today we’ll look at strategies for successfully arranging artwork in a casual and captivating way, through asymmetrical placement.    

Symmetry is defined as “correspondence in size, shape, and relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or about a center or axis.”  Asymmetry represents something different – it is balance achieved when no mirror reflection exists between opposite ends of a center point.  So how do you successfully introduce an asymmetrical display of artwork into your home?  Here are five strategies!       

Think Oddly.   Interior designers consistently arrange objects in odd numbers for greater interest, and the same principle applies to displaying artwork.  Below, trios of framed botanical paintings are spread out across two ledges while the centered painting below the floating ledges grounds the elevated display.   


floral paintings chocolate walls bhg


Odd numbers are in play in this charming arrangement of framed vintage labels with a total of five mixing and mingling with collected white ceramics.  The larger square frame on the top left provides visual weight with the shape repeated on the bottom to the right.  The hobnail pitcher on the top right brings balance to the books and smaller white ceramics on the bottom left completing the criss-cross pattern.


framed vintage labels on ledges bhg


Heavy On the Left.   Because we read from left to right, the eye is accustomed to and comfortable with heavier pieces placed to the left in asymmetrical displays.  On ledges or mantels, layer the smaller frames in front for greater visual appeal.  


assymetric art arrangement bhg

   asymmetrical art floating shelf bhg


Work with a Theme.   Hanging artwork in an abstract arrangement is engaging when the subject matter is consistent.  Choose paintings, photographs, or framed fabrics in a similar theme, and vary the size and placement of your collection between the edges of a piece of furniture.  


asymmetrical ship paintings bhg

asymmetrical framed fabric


Find the Center Line.  Use the center of the mantel or sofa as your guide and create with your eye an invisible vertical line straight up from the center.  From that midpoint, hang various sized artwork in angles up, down, and away from the center line.    


asymmetrical art over mantel

   asymmetric kids art display bhg


Mix It Up.   Displaying art asymmetrically is more whimsical and instinctual than the formality of symmetrical displays anchored to perfect placement.  Add collectibles, gadgets, or favorite objects to express your personality – be sure to mix it up and have a little fun!   


asymmetrical cubby display


fun asymmetrical arrangement of art bhg


When in doubt on how to balance an asymmetrical arrangement of art on your wall, here’s a very handy trick.  Cut craft paper in the same size as your frames and move them around your wall with easily removable painter’s tape.  Once you settle on the arrangement you like, get busy hanging your artwork!   


kraft paper wall gallery design


Next week will be the third and final installment of the series, where we’ll examine a few eclectic collections arranged in creative displays, and also explore the ever popular salon gallery wall, stay tuned!     

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