Loving art isn’t a hobby – it’s a lifestyle. Artistic expression has captivated humanity for millennia and continues to be one of the most appreciated and loved human creations. People will pay millions for certain pieces because they speak to them with almost otherworldly energy.
Though most of us are not collectors, we still aspire to curate our homes like the pros. And how you display your artwork plays a vital role in the emotions, you will feel when looking at it.
So, what’s the number one rule for hanging and displaying artwork? Break as many rules as you can – that’s how you make something feel unique, lived in, and ultimately beautiful. So, forget about the rules for a second, and let your creativity run wild. This post will dive into these art rules and explain why breaking them is the way to go.
Hanging Art At Eye Level is Boring
One of the most common rules for hanging art is to keep it at eye level. However, you can often break this rule depending on the effect you are going for. For example, by hanging a large piece of art slightly higher on the wall, you can make a room feel much larger.
On the other hand, hanging art lower (typically in landscape orientation) can be better to create a more intimate feeling.
Artwork Shouldn’t Always Go On the Wall
Another so-called “rule” is that you should only hang paintings on walls. However, this isn’t always the case.
Our favorite way to break this rule has to be the "leaning frame". Please oversized artwork on the floor, large pieces on credenzas and other waste-high furniture, and medium- and small-sized art on mantels and even shelves.
Another consideration is when your walls aren't flat, with wainscoting or other features. In fact, before the 20th century, people adorned most homes with picture rail molding. Another option is hanging your art from the ceiling. It will create an impactful focal point in the room, but it’s better to leave this installation to professionals.
Another alternative to walls is side tables and perhaps even mantels. Sure, they’re not as exciting as the ceiling, but they are still excellent locations for artwork. All that is required is a strong frame and a little bit of magic, by which we mean creativity, and you will turn your paintings into stunning art pieces.
Not Everything Needs To Be Centered
Look around you. Is everything perfectly symmetrical, or is it balanced? Most people swear by centering their art, but this rigid approach can leave your space feeling clinical and cold. Breaking this rule can often create a more exciting and engaging look in a space.
For example, if you have a few pieces of art that are all different sizes, it can be more interesting to hang them asymmetrically. It will add visual interest to the room and help it stand out from other spaces. It’s a simple case of perfection through imperfection.
Not Everything Needs To Be Level
This rule goes hand in hand with the previous one about centering everything. One great way to try this out is to frame something that isn’t square to the printed paper. Level the picture and not necessarily the frame. Don’t be afraid to hang things a little off-center or at different levels.
It will create visual interest and help your space feel more personal. It doesn’t mean you should have your guests obtain a neck injury when shifting between two pieces, but rather make slight adjustments so it piques their interest.
Don’t Only Hang Large Paintings On Large Walls
Now, this rule depends on the look you’re going for. If you have a large wall, don’t feel obligated to only hang a large painting on it. Instead, try hanging a cluster of smaller art, taking up the space but bringing more to the wall.
It will create a gallery wall feeling without being too overwhelming. And it’s a great way to showcase different pieces that you love and tell a story simultaneously. Just make sure that they all go together somehow, whether by color, subject matter, or frame style.
Groupings Shouldn’t Have Identical Frames
Using different frame styles will bring your personality into the equation and add visual interest to a grouping of art and make it stand out.
Plus, it’s an excellent way to show off your personality. So, go ahead and mix and match different frames to create a look that’s truly your own. Consider experimenting with the depth of a shadow box here!
Keeping a Gallery Wall Symmetrical is Uninspired
If you’re going for something a little more eclectic and free-flowing, it’s time to dump the idea that a gallery wall should be symmetrical. Gallery walls are all about expression – so go crazy.
The advantage here is that your wall will feel inviting, eclectic, and reflect who you are as a person.
Pretty Please, Mix Styles!
We have discussed quite a few rules for hanging artwork (or paintings) that you can break, but now it’s time to address the elephant in the room—mixing styles. Some people believe that everything in a space has to match, but you need to forget about that.
A mixture of distinctive displays can often create a more captivating and personal space. Think of it as going on a rollercoaster ride; there is a pace and a cadence; that’s what mixing styles will give you. Add in something serious, something witty, something sad, and something pretty. Go ahead and mix things up. It will make your space unique and help it stand out from the rest!
Don’t Just Choose Art That Fits Your Space
Our final rule needs no introduction because people always tend to sway toward only having art that fits with their room. Well, it’s time to lean to the other side. Just because you have a particular space style doesn’t mean that you may only hang art that matches that style. Trying something different can often add more life to the space.
Choose art based on what you love, not what you think will look good in your gallery. You may be surprised by the results.
Get Ready To Break The Rules!
So, will you break all of the hanging art rules and paint your walls black in retaliation? Probably not. But, hopefully, you feel inspired to think outside of the box when it comes to art placement in your home. Our team is more than happy to oblige if you need a little help getting there.
At Well Made, we design and manufacture some of the most rule-breaking artwork displays and frames (custom sizes too) you've seen. We believe that breaking the rules can lead to stunning results—so let us help you create a gallery wall that is as unique as you are!