Art House

Published: 28 Jul 2021

10 ways to display wall art to perfection in your home

From eye-catching ways to group multiple artworks together to hanging decorative plates and making use of picture shelves, here are 10 great ideas for displaying art on the walls of every room in the house

FRAME GAME

When this old historic home in a country town was renovated to include en suite bathrooms for its five bedrooms, elements of its past were enhanced via the use of architectural styles and finishes – and by adding lots of artworks, in a wide variety of styles, from the homeowner’s large and eclectic collection. Here, a trio of delightfully different pieces – which also showcase a diverse range of framing styles – have been hung to frame and emphasise a doorway, creating a vivid and lively display.

Tip

Create instant visual interest with artworks by combining pieces in very different styles: here, a full-length portrait, a vintage map and a lush landscape contrast with one another to make each piece stand out more clearly – and memorably.

NATURAL RHYTHM

This home belongs to a renowned fabric designer who regularly takes inspiration from the natural world for her creative practice, often doing months or even years of research before starting to work on new designs. The framed artwork above the bed in the main bedroom is one of her own pieces: a fabric panel inspired by the drawings of early explorers in South Africa. This is a marvellously easy idea to replicate: simply select a favourite piece of fabric, in a length slightly wider than the bed above which it is to be placed, and have it mounted and framed by a good fine-art framer.

Tip

Amanda du Plessis is the artist and fabric designer who created this evocative mounted fabric panel, which is inspired by early drawings of the flora and fauna of South Africa

ALT ART

In this holiday home on a farm, where large numbers of paintings and objects can’t be regularly dusted, the best way to create an art installation was to paint it directly onto the wall, as the creative homeowner did. With the help of an overhead projector, she outlined and filled in an image of a hawthorn branch on the white wall of the kitchen-diner. Its thorns and flowers serve as “subtle reminders of the masculine and feminine elements balancing the home’s interiors”

Tip

Create a similar look using ready-made and budget-friendly adhesive decals, which are widely available. These also need not be thought of as permanent installations: many of the adhesive versions can be easily removed and replaced by a new decal when the look of your space – or your taste – changes.

IN THE PINK

The interior colour palette of this sun-splashed apartment is unusual but beautifully muted throughout. This guest bedroom is painted in a soft and dusty pink, which sets off the pair of artworks in much starker shades – red, black and white – beautifully. The two pieces also combine a boldness of brushstroke and line that sets up a lively dialogue between them and adds energy to an otherwise tranquil space. The untrimmed canvas on the abstract painting on the left is also an unusual and charming element that is worth keeping in mind when printing one’s own images onto the canvas for wall display.

WONDER WALL

One would expect the home of an art museum curator to be an object lesson in the display of artworks of all sorts, and this petite, ultra-colourful apartment is exactly that. This exuberant wall of special and collected plates in the kitchen is a “Friends’ Gallery” of handmade gifts, each of which has great sentimental value. The display features both round and oval plates, and multiple decorative styles and colours – and is an excellent demonstration of the fact that “carefully curated” need not mean overtly ordered, nor involve being obsessively matchy-matchy.

Tip

The wall-mounted ceramic vases included in this mix are an especially charming element: they offset the rounded shapes of the plates with a more linear feel, and emphasise the three-dimensional appeal of the installation when filled with fresh blooms.

COLOUR BLOCKS

A bold mix of colours in the casual living room of a family home gives it a playful feel, which is enhanced by the striking artworks. Bright shades abound on the gallery-style wall around the television – which features an eclectic mix of vintage prints, original artworks and the delightful fan that is displayed open above the TV – while a set of black and white photographs on the other wall offsets all the bold colour beautifully. The use of a wide range of differently sized pieces on the gallery wall also works to engage and hold the viewer’s interest.

Tip

The black and white photographs are by Clive Will (clivewill.com), and the painted wooden Tintin figurines and Lucky Star stool were bought in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the homeowners’ travels.

SHELF LIFE

This homeowner credits her geologist grandfather with her taste for collecting: her home includes varied collections of global ephemera and artworks that are genuine talking points. From Egyptian scarabs found in north Africa to vintage botanical art prints picked up in New York, she has a real eye for unusual items imbued with charm, history and a tale to tell. Plus, her talent for display makes them all the more beguiling: using shallow picture shelves on which to display artworks is perfect for curator-collectors of all stripes because they enable you to easily change up, refresh and add to the combinations in which your pieces appear.

Tip

These picture shelves are crammed with some of the homeowner’s favourite artworks. To create a similar collection, choose a theme or colour focus – such as botanical illustrations, for example – then start hunting at auctions, in junk stores and online.

IN THE MIX

Combining practical with aesthetic pleasures, this kitchen is situated in a stylist’s home in which all the walls and fitted storage cupboards have been painted pure white to serve as an ideal backdrop for an ever-changing display. It’s a joyful, confident mix: a trio of golden ceramic ducks draws the eye upwards, shelves hold an eclectic mix of cooking essentials, framed artworks and collected treasures, and a favourite image snapped by the homeowner in Namibia is used as a focal point behind the hob.

Tip

Take inspiration from the arresting photographic image featured here, and enlarge and frame your own photographs. Then, display them wherever they will regularly catch your eye and give you pleasure, from a kitchen shelf to a bathroom windowsill.

GROUP DYNAMIC

Shared by a sculptor and an interior designer, this apartment is filled with collections of vintage furniture and artworks. “It starts with one piece and then we create a narrative around it,” they say. As this cluster of small artworks in the living area shows, they are drawn to pieces that resonate with others they already have: placing them in a group close together both enables the remainder of the wall to function as a sort of wider “frame”, drawing the eye their way and facilitates interactivity – a “conversation”, if you like – between the four pieces.

Tip

The small artworks seen here are a combination of pieces by painter Jonathan Freemantle (jonathanfreemantle.com) and collagist Sitaara Stodel (instagram.com/evenmynamewastaken)

MATCHING PAIR

This pair of arresting abstract artworks takes pride of place on the wall of a tranquil bedroom. It’s an excellent idea to place companion pieces such as these close together to emphasise their joint use of colour and style, and make them the memorable focal point of a space. The additional rules to follow are also similar to those that govern the hanging of artworks in a classic “white cube” gallery: allow plenty of space around the pieces so as to avoid any visual clutter, and ensure that they are not mounted too high up on the wall – artworks should generally have their midpoints at eye level.

Tip

Combining beautifully with this pair of paintings by young South African artist Jeanne Gaigher, is a vintage Le Corbusier chaise – the perfect vantage point for contemplation.