displaying artwork

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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I’ve been exploring the many ways to display art in the home in recent days as I undertake a major art display on my own walls.  There are three basic ways to display artwork in your home and they are symmetrically, asymmetrically, and eclectically.  Today, we’ll start a three part series exploring these different ideas for hanging artwork on the walls, the first (and easiest!) is through visual symmetry. 

Symmetrical art is both centered and balanced, whereas asymmetrical art is not centered but balance is achieved in other ways.  It’s a slightly trickier concept, but an in-depth look next week will teach some tricks for pulling it off.  Finally, we’ll take a look at some more eclectic ideas to inspire you in the third installment of the series, and also a peek at the popular gallery or “salon” wall. 

Let’s first dive into examples of art displayed in symmetrical ways, which many believe is most soothing to the eye.  Most symmetrical displays begin with frames of a consistent size.  Hanging the same frame in a singular row is a simple way to achieve the look, you choose if it’s a series of three or four. 

symmetrical trio above bed bhg


even line of art above bed bhg


A second option for hanging your symmetrical artwork is in grid formation.  Grid patterns look best when they’re suspended tightly together, allowing no more than two inches between the frames or prints.

square grid symmetrical art bhg

group of four prints bhg


Adding a third column to make an even number of six makes for even greater impact.  Styles can range from casual to sophisticated!  Colorful botanical art is whimsical above a mantel, while classic black and white is elegant and timeless in a master bedroom.


botanical prints bhg


black and white grid photographs behind bed


Expanding the grid by adding a third row to create an odd number of nine creates a real moment in a space, especially when the display is of similar subject matter, like this beautiful assortment of colorful butterflies, or the amassing of elegant botanicals behind glass. 


symmetrical grid butterfly art bhg


symmetrical botanical art bhg


Symmetrical displays do not require the same size frame!  You can still achieve symmetry with varied sized frames, as seen in this collection of photographs below.  Notice how the vertically hung images in the corners and center vary slightly in size from the horizontally suspended frames in the middle of the rows and columns.  

symmetrical grid framed art bhg


The same idea rings true in this display of artwork in a bedroom, with a large scale architectural print taking the spotlight in the center, but balanced by the flanking pair of sea inspired prints on both sides. 

varied frames symmetrical art bhg


This cheerful arrangement of children’s art uses the same size frame to bring cohesion to the display that showcases masterpieces of youth. 

symmetrical kids art bhg


Symmetrical artwork is not limited to prints or photographs or two dimensional art.  Think beyond the frame and consider mixed media such as plates displayed in shadow boxes suspended in two rows in a dining space.

 plates and shadow boxes symmetrical art bhg


Baskets are sculptural and textural when suspended above a bed in a symmetrical trio.


symettrical baskets above bed bhg


Bright botanical wallpaper displayed behind simple painted molding brings fresh color to a clean, modern entry.  


trio of wallpaper panels bhg


With symmetrical displays, choose wall art of a similar style or subject matter and complementary frames and you can’t go wrong.  The formation will add balance and greater formality to your space, and is guaranteed to be visually pleasing!



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