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Art 101

How to Display Paintings

Learn how to display paintings with our guide to creating the perfect art arrangement. From gallery walls to floor arrangements, and stair displays to framed collections, discover creative methods to present your paintings.

By Sophie Heatley

Unsure how to arrange your favourite works of art? Learn how to display paintings with our guide. Here’s a roundup of the best and most creative ways to organise your paintings. 

 

How to Display Paintings 

Create your own gallery wall 

A gallery wall is an amalgamation of artworks displayed in even or experimental arrangements on a wall. Gallery walls suit a plethora of styles. You can keep them refined and minimalistic with a balanced and Instagram-worthy composition, or ramp it up with an eclectic range of contrasting colours and abstract images. In an interview with the New York Times, Lindsay Griffith, a specialist in prints and multiples at Christie’s, emphasised that “interesting juxtapositions make a gallery wall more personal.” 

A good place to start is by picking a larger painting and using it as a kind of pivot for your collection. Surround that painting with works that complement it and remain in tune with the surrounding decor. 

Top tip: Be mindful of space. You can balance out large, empty areas by generously spreading out an even group of pieces. For smaller spaces, get that curated-decor feel and maximise space by bringing paintings closer together.  

 

Symmetrical wall hangings 

Wall hangings should look and feel collected - even if you’re going for an effortless vibe. Take your time mixing genres and techniques if you want to present an elevated grouping with real depth and meaning. You can create symmetry with grid formats, using the same size and shape paintings, and mirroring artworks with similar motifs and patterns. These can be hung around windows, doors, above beds, fireplaces and kitchen cabinets. Just be sure to avoid spaces prone to humidity or on top of radiators. 

Top tip: For symmetrical hangings, keep an even and tight spacing between them. Rulers at the ready. 

 

 

Dress up your shelves  

Create a picture ledge for a classy way to organise your paintings. Overlap paintings and play with different sizes to make the most of your space and bring a little character to the display. You could throw in a few small sculptures and plants for a little je ne sais quoi. Likewise, use your bookshelf to display paintings for the ultimate casual look. 

 

Mix-and-match shapes 

 Play with alternative shapes to bring a little personality to your walls. Combine a miscellany of square, rectangle and circle paintings to add some seasoning to typically orderly displays. 

Top tip: to leave a lasting impression and really make the most of space, you might consider displaying the paintings from floor to ceiling. 

 

Present a single, large original painting

Make a statement by displaying a single, large painting. Want to create a more high-end look? Place a low-wattage light above it for a little extra illumination and to really show off your favourite piece. Using one large centrepiece is also a great way to amplify the colours already displayed throughout your room - the furniture, fabrics, decorations - and foster harmony and cohesion in the larger context of your space. 

 

Take a double 

Consider placing two complementary paintings side-by-side. Simple yet effective, arranging artworks in pairs is an expert way to invite a sense of unity into a space. Look for two works by the same artist, from the same series, or with similar patterns, textures and colours for maximum visual consonance. 

 

Artwork by Stella Kapezanou

 

Let go of frames 

Arguably more budget-friendly and customisable, opting out of frames and displaying your paintings au naturel, if you will, can imply informal or improvised elegance.  

 

Frame to your heart’s desire 

On the other hand, frame away. For a sleek and sophisticated look, find frames that accentuate your current colour scheme. Frames can bring out the hues and tones in your paintings and complement the established decor in your space. Another idea is to get a little more experimental. According to experts at Homes & Antiques, “a hotchpotch of frames and prints from different styles and eras adds a sense of playful fun.” Why not go wild and shake things up a bit? Head to your local second-hand store and bring back a consortium of old and visually unique frames. 

 

Take advantage of the floor 

Leaning paintings against walls, atop dressers or cabinets can evoke a laid-back but nevertheless stylish feel. This is a great option for someone prone to frequent redecoration or regularly on the move. The paintings can be easily moved around when you fancy a little change. We recommend framing any paper works to avoid the piece folding or warping.

 

Colour-match your paintings and furniture 

Keep it coherent with arrangements that seamlessly interweave with existing antique displays, furniture or colour schemes. You could marry an earthy still life painting with monochrome or dark stoneware and ceramics. Alternatively, why not accompany smooth minimalist and colour-field pastel paintings with milky, white aesthetics?

Top tip: Have a fair amount of space between your furniture and the artwork. You don’t want to accidentally knock one off the wall! 

 

Go long with the stairs 

An oft-forgotten display location but one nevertheless brimming with opportunity: the staircase. A great way to take advantage of the space is to stagger multiple paintings on a smooth incline, so you can enjoy them as you take the stairs. You could also add plant hangers, ceramics or other ornaments to the mix to spice up the display.

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