The Tribune - Spectrum

, September 8, 2002

Home space
Picture perfect
Chetna Banerjee

If the pictures are of different sizes, an asymmetrical arrangement looks good

EVER given more than a fleeting thought to how and where you should hang pictures in your home? Possibly, no. Usually, whenever there is a picture to be hung, the most obvious way to go about it is to look for a bare wall, locate its central point and drill a hole into it. And there goes your frame up on the wall.

But even picture hanging is an art and to get just the right arrangement with your frames you need to have a discerning eye. And, of course, an eye for colour, symmetry and, not the least, an innovative approach. You needn’t have the well-honed skills of an interior decorator. you only need to follow simple guidelines to get it right.


Odd one out

A symmetrical grouping goes well with an even number of pictures

Here are some arrangements you can try out:

  • If you have two pictures that are too small for a wall, hang them side by side and fill the empty with a wall planter, in which a money plant or some other creeper can be grown.

  • If more than one picture is to be hung on a wall, stick to an odd number. The only even number of frames that look good together is two. If you want to group four pictures, put them up in pairs in a staggered arrangement, and another item, such as a plaque for hanging keys, can be used to fill in the spaces. Unusual decorative objects can be hung on the wall to balance a grouping.

  • Photographs may be hung on a wall symmetrically or asymmetrically. A symmetrical grouping, with pieces hung equidistant from and level with each other, gives a more formal look. This sort of grouping works well with same-size pictures that have similar frames and subject matter.

  • Asymmetrical groupings are more common, with many shapes, sizes and types of pictures hung together at various heights. Craft-paper cutouts that match the size and shape of individual pieces of artwork make it easy to determine your picture arrangement. Tape the pieces of craft paper to the wall, trying out different arrangements until you find one that pleases you.

Eye contact

  • Individual pictures should be hung on a wall about 5' 3" from the floor, or eye level for the average person. Over a sofa, place artwork so it's just a few inches below the tallest head, about 18" above the crest of the sofa.

  • To achieve an interesting arrangement, stagger pictures rather than hang them in a straight line. To determine where to place staggered pictures, imagine a horizontal centre line on one picture, and hang the second a bit above or below the line.

  • Consider grouping four small same-size pictures together in a four-square, to give the illusion of a larger picture .

  • You don't always have to have four in a group. Instead use a larger picture in the centre. Then place two smaller pictures on either side of the large picture, spaced vertically to about equal the length of the larger frame. Or, in place of the larger picture, use a large mirror.

  • Nothing's perfect: Not all of your frames will always be of matching sizes, so approximate and just try to balance the impact of the frames—not match them perfectly.

  • Don't put one little picture on a large wall. It looks ridiculous. If you don't have enough artwork to fill up more space on a large wall, consider putting mirrors in the grouping.

  • Conversely, don't overload a small wall with a large picture.

Frame fundas

  • If you're working with a large wall and have the floor space, make some decisions by arranging the pictures on the floor first. You can also measure how far they need to be from one another. Then take one at a time and put them up on the wall.

  • If you're hanging a picture over a sofa, you shouldn't leave a lot of wall space between sofa and picture. Try for three to six inches. If you go any higher, the viewer's eye will just go to the wall, not the picture.

  • Keep in mind the picture's weight, which will determine what size hook you'll need to use. For a very large picture, you'll need two hooks.

  • To attractively display family photos, crowd them on a wall to make a gallery.

  • As for mixing wood-framed pictures with metal-framed pictures, it works best if you have an eclectic look throughout the home. If you're going to do it in a more formal look, at least try to keep the same colour for all the frames.

  • To plug nail holes in a wall, use plain white toothpaste (not gel). Toothpaste doesn't sink into the holes.
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