Living Room Displays and Collections

Bring your living room to life with displays that reveal your interests and delight your eye.

Highlight Wall Art with Paint

Turn your walls into dynamic, graphic designs with paint and shadow boxes. Paint rectangles so they relate to the width of the furniture below or to the shape and size of the wall space. Also consider the shape and size of the three-dimensional piece you want to hang within the painted rectangle.

Whether you hang original sculpture over the painted rectangles or just use simple box shelves with ordinary vases, the effect is contemporary and exciting.

Use Mirrors as Wall Art

Large mirrors leaning against the wall offer a dramatic and effective way to expand the sense of space in small rooms, enhance light in dark ones, and add interest anywhere. Three identical mirrors in plain dark frames suit the contemporary style of this loft living room.

Create a Focal Point with Fabric

Use fabric panels to turn a plain wall into a focal point that you can change with the seasons.

Hang one or more panels of fabric from the top of the wall. Place a small table in front of it and arrange photos, plants, and collectibles in a seasonal display. Include a lamp for height as well as illumination.

Create a Photo Montage

Create an arresting display over the mantel by framing large black and white photos in identical narrow black frames and hanging them in a closely spaced grid.

This display is especially effective because the photos range from close-ups to distant shots. The variations create a push-pull effect that moves the eye across the mantel. The cropping and composition of the images adds to the edgy, contemporary effect.

Camouflage the TV with Art

Blending the television discreetly into a room's decor is a lot easier now thanks to plasma-screen televisions. The flat panel mounts on the wall like a piece of artwork, so all you have to do to blend it in to the decor is surround it with framed wall art.

Here, a grouping of black and white silhouettes and prints of different shapes and sizes forms a collage on the wall with the television screen as its anchor.

Compose Objects on Open Shelves

Arrange items on open shelves with an eye toward the overall composition. Using a variety of objects in different shapes and sizes creates interest and movement, while using all white or black and white objects in a black shelving unit unifies them into an orderly whole.

Establish Asymmetrical Balance

To achieve asymmetrical balance in an overmantel arrangement of wall art, draw an imaginary line down the center of the mantel. Arrange framed pieces of different sizes and shapes on each side of the center line, balancing several small pieces on one side with one or two large pieces on the other side.

Rest one framed print on the mantel so it overlaps the largest framed piece to lead your eye from the mantel into the grouping. A small vase helps establish equilibrium.

Arrange a Small Tabletop Display

Eye-pleasing tabletop displays are an exercise in composition. The goal is to lead the eye from the table's surface up to nearby furniture or wall pieces.

Here, a low stack of books serves as a pedestal for a ceramic pot to give it more presence. The candlestick traces a taller line to lead the eye up toward the lampshade, and a small "Art" block provides transition from the pot to the tabletop.

Link Tabletop and Wall Displays

Create a secondary focal point in a room by arranging a tabletop display integrated with a wall display. Here, ordinary dinnerware takes on a decorative function, arranged on the top of the buffet. Centered on the wall above, a semicircle of mismatched plates provides a crowning touch.

Add Color with Art

In a no-color setting, colorful framed wall art pops. The dark gray of this loft's walls emphasizes the warm colors in the framed pieces. Pillows and throws bring the colors further into the room.

For a contemporary, graphic effect, frame pieces in identical white mats and black frames and hang them in a line across the wall. The line should be at eye level of a person standing in the room.

Practice the Art of the Tablescape

A tablescape--a collection of objects composed according to principles of variety, repetition, unity, and contrast--turns any table into a focal point for the room.

This simple but effective tablescape consists of just a few objects: a collection of antique candlesticks, a couple of pots, and an antique folding screen. The soft, low-key colors--brown, black, gray--harmonize with the color of the wood table, while the blue hydrangeas introduce a pop of color that arrests the eye.

Add Interest with Tabletop Displays

Tabletop displays need not be elaborate to be effective. The goal is to create an interesting path for the eye to follow. The way to achieve that is to use objects in a variety of sizes, shapes, and heights and to use odd numbers.

In this sunroom, a collection of colored glass vases sparkles in front of the windows; a vase of flowers, a coral cluster, and some books decorate the coffee table; and a potted plant rests on a book under a lamp beside the sofa.

Hang Fabric Panels

Fabric panels hanging from below the crown molding offer an easy way to add color, pattern, and dimension to the walls. To double the impact of the treatment, set up a large mirror on the adjacent wall so that it reflects the room.

In this living room, draperies turn one wall into a storage area. Pulling them back reveals the room-expanding mirror.

Use See-Through Shelves for Display

Divide space without blocking light and views with freestanding see-through shelves. Although you could fill every opening with an object, the results might easily seem too cluttered. Instead, leave some openings empty so that attention goes to the objects you choose to display.

Display Your Interests

Tabletop displays give you a chance to show off objects that reflect your interests. They are also an opportunity to create mini focal points around the room.

On this coffee table, orderly stacks of books share space with a handsome pot and a dish of seashells, while the side table display focuses attention on an original painting.

Hang Art Over the Sofa

Asymmetrical displays are dynamic and active. For an over-the-sofa collage, arrange paintings or prints to fill a wall area about equal to the width of the sofa. Hang the lowest piece close to the sofa to anchor the display. Aligning the pieces along a horizontal axis creates an orderly look. Use color to unify the pieces.

Energize the Space with Art and Objects

Interesting wall and tabletop displays keep the eye moving around the room. On this wall, an oval mirror anchors a collage of framed pieces and candelabra that lead the eye up and down across the wall.

On the coffee table, tall, slender vases, candlesticks, and art objects combine to lift the eye up into the air space above the tabletop. To add variety, two vases rest on books, creating different levels within the tablescape.

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