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Living Room Art

Add personality and visual interest to your living room with artwork. Find pieces that enhance your design style and personal taste, then follow these helpful tips and practical guidelines to arrange and hang your pieces successfully.

Choosing art

Artwork is truly a personal choice. Whatever catches your eye, speaks to you, and reflects your personality will look right in your living room. Framed art is a popular choice. Photos, prints, and original paintings can all be framed and displayed easily. Add interest by giving attention to the type of frames and matting you use.

Artwork doesn't have to be images, however, or even purchased art. Make your artwork by framing squares of colorful fabric or graphic wallpaper. Or, skip the frame altogether and wrap stretched canvas with materials.

Plates make pretty and eye-catching art by adding pattern and dimension to a wall. Plus, family treasures are more meaningful hung on a wall than stashed away. Shape a collection of plates around doorways or windows, above soffits, or in any configuration across a stretch of blank wall.

Personalize your space by hanging a puzzle you put together, plaster-cast handprints from elementary school, or a map showing a favorite destination. These pieces make great conversation starters, too.

Take a quilt off the bed or a rug off the floor and hang it on a large wall to add color and graphic interest at eye level.

Getting started

Gather some tools and consider these practical steps before you start hanging artwork on your walls.

-- Decide what you will be hanging and the hardware you'll need to secure the pieces to the wall. Specialty hangers are available for just about everything, including platters and heavy mirrors. Buy hardware rated for weight to securely support oversize items.

-- Before you make holes in your wall, test your arrangement. Cut shapes from kraft paper that match the sizes of your pieces and use painter's tape to secure them to the wall. Try out different arrangements until you find the perfect configuration. Tip: If you're hanging portraits, draw arrows on the paper to indicate which way the subject is looking.

-- Create interest by mixing contrasting shapes. Hang round plates over a square sofa, mix frames of different shapes and sizes, or hang thin vertical objects along a long wall. Use color or themes to unite the pieces.

-- You don't have to hang framed pieces on the wall. Instead, mount decorative picture ledges, then prop frames along the ledges. This option offers lots of variety in your arrangement and makes it easy to switch out art for a seasonal change or to update family photos. Add dimension by mixing in a few vases, candles, and other accessories with the art.

-- When hanging art, start by defining the dimensions of your display space. It might be between two doorways or the borders might just be visual, such as a sofa's arms. As a general rule of thumb, position the most prominent piece at eye level in the center and work outward.

-- Hanging art too high over a sofa is a common mistake. Center pieces at eye level, generally 5 feet up from the floor for an average adult. If it is a low sofa, hang the artwork lower so it doesn't feel like it's floating. Leaving about 6 inches between the top of the sofa and the bottom of the art is a good guideline, but adjust according to your eye.

-- Pay attention to scale. When hanging art over a sofa, mantel, or any significant piece, make sure the piece of art or grouping has a width between one-half and two-thirds of the item below.

-- To give art more substance, hang it within a few inches of a cabinet or table to let the eye read the two objects as one.

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