Framed and Fabulous

Start with the art. Then celebrate it, showcase it, and make your walls sing.

Written by ELAINE ROGERS


With swirls of color and poignant images seemingly created out of thin air, paintings and even posters elicit emotions in powerful ways. And artwork that speaks to our heart urges us to place it where others can share.

"Art is an emotional purchase," says Suzanne Gallagher, founder of Walldesgndivea.com. " We buy it because we love it and respond to the color and how it makes us feel. And then we say, " Now what am I going to do with it?"

Anyone who's scurried home with a new artistic treasure certain of its benefit to a particular room or unadorned wall also knows that showcasing wall art is an art form itself. Disappointment may replace joy when a much-anticipated painting ends up looking completely out of place in its designated spot. A sparse wall may seem an obvious site for an controlled jumble of color, light and textures, but the display destination depends on framing spacing and lighting for a truly stunning exhibit. " People will bring their art home and be so excited about it," Gallagher says. " Then it will look funny and they'll say ' It looked good in the store. Why doesn't it work here?"

Noting that art is often the focal point of a room or "the glue that brings the interior furnishsings together." Gallagher adds "the elements of placement, the image itself and how it's framed are all intergral to one another. You really can't separate them."

Fortunately, experts say displaying artwork properly " is not rocket science." and it's easy to learn how to do it properly.

SHOPPING AND SPACING

Snap a shot of the wall you want to fill and shop for art with the picture and space measurements in hand. "Pay attention to the width and height of the mantel." Gallageher says. You'll need breathing room above the art - from the top of it up to the ceiling."

Pat McNulty, a fine art photographer in Malvern and founder of Premierphotographer.com , suggests lining things up on the floor to determing spacing needs. " The eye craves order," he says, so rember to hang pictures so they form at least one horizontal and one vertical line.

DIVERSITY

Vary framing choices and artist. " I don't recommend finding one artist whose work you love and buying 12 pieces," Gallagehr says. " Diversity is something that will give your home character, and over the years , you'll discover other things that will excite you. So don't stick wwith jsut one artist." In the same vein, she says framing desing should reflect the style of the space, but there's a lot of variance withing that context " Choose similar frames that relate to one another but sill differ," She suggest. ( An exception to this is grouping of coordingated prints or artwork that are intended to be shown together. Frame those identically.)

HEIGHT COUNTS

Usually, art is hung to high. Gallagher say "eye level" is relative to what is happening in the space most of the time, and McNulty notes that "everybody's eye level is different." In seating areas, art can often be placed lower than eye level, while in hallways or stairways, eye level is the goal. In foyers or rooms with the taller ceilings, hanging the piece higher thatn eye leve works well.

FURNISHINGS AND FRAMES

Art should cover at least two-thirds of the wall space over a sofa or piece of furniture. For instance , a 24-inch painting over a 60-inch table is sure to be overshadowed. A rule of thumb for art placed behind chairs and sofas is placement about 6 to 9 inches above the back.

COORDINGANED COLLECTIONS

Arranging a cluster of smaller frames together establishes a larger collective. This works especially well with family photos or images following a theme - vintage prints or vacation destinations for instance. McNulty is a fan of sticking with a specific motif like flowers, lighthouse pictures or animals throughout an entire room. " Keep it simple," he says. " Sometimes people make the mistake of having too many pieces and too much going on."

For modern take on the grouping strategy, try a collection of acrylic CD cases filled with coordinate images - perhaps square pieces of an impressionistic poster or connected photographs - which is eye-catching in a kid's room or other casual places.