Plan the Perfect Art Arrangement

Whip a blank wall into shape with an artful arrangement of prints, paintings, plates, or photographs.

Empty walls are all too common in our homes. Why? Perhaps hanging art is too much of a commitment. After all, what happens when you grow tired of the piece? Then again, maybe you're just too timid to pick up a hammer, or you fear putting holes in the walls.

Whatever the reason, enough is enough! Now's the time to take the plunge and enliven those barren barriers with an arsenal of artful arrangements.

Lesson One: Think It Through

Carefully determine your arrangement before you start banging holes in the wall. Trace the outline of each frame onto Kraft paper and cut it out. Then tape the outlines to the wall using blue painter's tape.

Move your paper frames around until you arrive at an arrangement you like, then gather your supplies (picture hooks, hammer, level, and tape measure) and start hanging. This same Kraft paper trick also works for tracing and placing mirrors, plates, wall clocks, and sconces.

Lesson Two: Stay in Line

Displaying a collection of pictures requires a careful eye. As a rule, a precise grid gives a graphic, formal look. But that's not the only option. An arrangement that's hung within the confines of a square or rectangle but aligned along only one axis (center, top, or bottom) will also appear orderly -- just a tad more relaxed. Placing a sofa or other piece of furniture under the arrangement will help anchor the artwork.

Lesson Three: Stagger the Look

Sometimes an uneven pattern can be more interesting than a precise lineup. The key to a successful stair-stepped grouping: Vary the spacing between frames. Use your eye to gauge the distance. And because stairways are a high-traffic area, use small pieces of adhesive hook-and-loop tape to hold frame corners to the wall.

Lesson Four: Add an Element of Surprise

Try something unexpected. Here, instead of hanging a single piece of art over the bed, we created a sculptural grouping of plates and varied the shape, size, and design for interest. The plates are in perfect contrast to the headboard's boxy figure, so they attract attention and draw you into the space. The adjacent wall sports framed fabric cuttings. Bottom line: Trust your instincts. If it feels right, it will work.

Lesson Five: There's Safety in Symmetry

When all else fails, go for the grid -- and the grid doesn't have to be a perfect square. Though this notion is a good starting point, centering artwork horizontally and vertically over a prominent architectural element (in this case the mantel) while maintaining even spacing will do the trick. Add interest by mixing sizes, styles, and art mediums.

Make art out of collectibles or photos of favorite items. Here, $1 vintage equestrian book plates from a flea market pair with photos of the jockeys outside the legendary 21 Club in New York City.

Continued on page 2:  Inexpensive Art and Supplies



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