Expert Art Arranging Tips

Tired of boring bare walls, but don't know how to fill them? These expert tips tackle common art-arranging frustrations.

Artful Arranging

Yikes! It's the attack of the empty wall! If you've ever done battle with bare walls, these tips are for you. Our art-arranging experts, have put together foolproof ways to display your favorite art, photography, and other eye candy.

Paper First

Don't pound a single nail before you do a little planning. Decide which pieces you want on the wall, then trace their shapes onto paper. Cut out the shapes and experiment with various placements. This small step will save your drywall from misplaced nail holes.

Center of the Universe

One of our favorite approaches for over-the-sofa art arranging is the "galaxy" technique. Start with a central, dominant image. Here, it's the silhouette potted peonies art. Radiate other pieces outward and upward around the central piece. We advise using artwork that hangs together well; look for similar colors, tones, and themes. Or try same-color frames to unite disparate pieces.

Shape Up

When creating your own "galaxy" on the wall, pay special attention to shape. This technique works particularly well with pieces of varying shapes and sizes. Incorporate round or oval pieces to give your collection visual interest.

...Or Not To Center

One of the best rules for arranging art is to throw out the rules! Who says art must be centered over a sofa, sideboard, or bed? Instead of centering, think balance. Here, a grouping of similar images on one side of the sofa balances the trio of industrial light fixtures on the other. Another idea: Extend your artwork over the edge of the sofa to visually expand your space.

Puppy Paper

It's easy to create art that matches your room's palette. Score wallpaper scraps from old projects or friends, or search for pretty scrapbooking papers at your local crafts store. Frame them alone, or add a fun silhouette, like the dogs we used here.

Great Groupings

One of the trickiest aspects of arranging multiple pieces is coordinating the look. We suggest finding a common theme. Perhaps its similar subject matter, such as the dogs featured in this grouping. Or maybe the colors are similar (yellows and greens dominate here). Try keeping the frames within a strict color palette (glossy browns tie this quad of artworks together).

Off The Wall

Looking for a unique way to display art? Try taking it off the wall. We love peeks of art or photography on bookshelves, atop mantels, inside display armoires, or in unexpected spots, such as leaning against a chair back.

Small Spaces

Very small pieces of art can sometimes drown in big expanses of bare walls. Instead, seek out cozy spots to tuck these tiny treasures. Try the back of a bookshelf, an oddly shaped corner, or minuscule stretch of wall in a small bathroom or kitchen.

Change Is Good

This technique is perfect for commitment-phobes, parents of budding kid-artists, and those of you with massive art collections and not-so-massive wall space. We created a "constant canvas" (click to the next slide for the how-to), then installed a piano light above to bring attention to the miniature museum on the wall. Then we framed each kid masterpiece in an identical inexpensive frame to bring cohesion to the display.

Constant Canvas

To create the cool backdrop shown here, buy a section of plywood and enough burlap to cover it -- and then some. Plan for at least 2 inches of overhang around all sides of the plywood. Position the burlap atop the plywood. Staple the edges of the burlap to the back of the plywood, pulling taut but not too tightly.

3-D Display

Want to add dimension to your display wall? Purchase frame risers that offset artwork several inches from the wall. Use them to highlight and layer your pieces.

In A Row

Here's a great way to make a tall room feel cozy: Hang framed pieces at the same height in a row. The tops of the frames should be exactly the same level. The technique mimics crown molding and it helps to add architectural interest to a plain wall.

Keep clicking to learn how we made these cool wood-grain artworks.

Fab Faux-Bois

It didn't take long for us to whip up these wonderful wood-grain artworks. Here how to make your own: Draw or photocopy images of shapely objects (they used kitchenware). Cut out the shapes and trace to transfer the designs to wood-look adhesive shelf liner. Cut pieces of liner to size to fit the background boards of the frames. Peel and stick to the board, or use glue (adhesive shelf liner can curl or wrinkle easily when released from its background paper). Repeat the technique to adhere the silhouettes to the backgrounds.

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