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Dos & Don’ts of Displaying Art in the Your Home



Pieces of artwork are meant to be fully appreciated not just when they’re first discovered or initially acquired—but for a lifetime, whether they’re traditional or contemporary; antiques, paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media, or sculpture.

If you have a beloved collection of art, then you will want to invest the same amount of time, thought, and energy into proudly displaying the art in your home as you did carefully selecting it in the first place.

Here are a handful of dos and don’ts, sure to guide your prized artistic pieces to the right spots in your home’s overall design.

DON’T: Forget about your large, prominent pieces of art and sculpture if you’re in the process of designing a home.

DO: Make sure to design around locations to feature your art prominently and with appropriate lighting.

DON’T: Assume that artwork of all types and mediums can be displayed under the same kind of lighting. Oil painting and sculpture can be displayed in the sun and natural light, but photography should be displayed in a slightly darker spot, away from the sun.

DO: Design lighting that’s flexible so that it can adapt to changes in displays. You can use light fixtures called shutterboxes, which can shoot light in different shapes, framing the art. The shapes can be easily changed when you decide to rotate your collection.

DON’T: Try and match the color palette of your art to the color palette of a room or display wall.

DO: Display art against a contrasting color or material—so that the art remains the focus of the line of sight.

DON’T: Overlook transitional spaces as venues for displaying art.

DO: Make use of transitional spaces, like hallways and niches, especially for hanging art. Focus significant pieces at the end of hallways or singular in a room.

DON’T: Hang art too high; this is a common mistake.

DO: Follow the rule of thumb when hanging art: keep the center of your piece below 60 inches from the floor. For paintings or other works that are too tall to hang on a center line, it often works to place them around 15 inches off of the floor.

DON’T: Mix traditional art pieces with contemporary works in or near the same display.

DO: Organize styles and types of art; traditional together, contemporary together—much like an art museum might.

DON’T: Think that gallery walls apply to paintings or try to display a group of paintings close to one another.

DO: Mix photography and other on-paper artwork together on a gallery wall or within the same display.

DON’T: Over-think framing.

DO: Find a great framer, give them some details about the space, and then trust them completely. They can be a tremendous resource.

Kyle H. Webb, AIA is the principal at KH Webb Architects PC, a Vail, Colorado-based design and architecture firm. View their profile or reach Kyle at 970-477-2990.

Content for this article provided by KH Webb Architects.SaveSave

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