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Finding the artist within – how to style and hang art like an expert

Art may maketh the wall – but only if you nail the arrangement. How high? How far apart? Symmetrical or salon-style – all daunting questions for the more artistically-challenged home decorators among us. But never fear, our expert art tips are here to help release the inner curator within (or something like that)…..

Hit the spot & nail the height

Quite literally, if you don’t get the nail in the right spot, nothing else will follow. So get out your tape measure, your calculator and hark back to high school maths before you pick up the hammer.

The conventional gallery rule-of-thumb is that the centre of an artwork should be at eye level. But how high is that? For most people, it’s between 144cm and 152cm high. Now of course if yours is a household of vertically-challenged or overgrown peeps you might want to kick that rule into touch, but at least it’s somewhere to start.

If you’re hanging artwork in a designated dining room, where people will usually be seated, you might want to consider hanging to suit a lower eye level; and if you’re building a gallery above a sofa or console table, set the bottom of the lowest frame between 15cm and 30cm above the top of the piece of furniture for a mag-worthy montage.

As for how to hang it, for prints or paintings weighing less than two kilos, a simple nail will usually suffice, but for anything heavier, a wall plug provides a sturdy anchor. Use a stud finder (or your knuckles if you know what you’re doing) to find a secure spot to hammer your plug and remember that the wire on the back of most ready-to-hang pieces is not in the centre of the painting, so test it out and measure the hanging span before you start.

Grid vs salon style

In the art world, grid style is a symmetrical square or rectangular arrangement of multiple framed pieces, while salon style typically combines prints or varying sizes, with the largest in the centre and the rest arranged around it, offering plenty of scope for the personal touch.

In either case, this is a fab (and affordable) way to mimic the impact of a larger artwork – just put the centre of the arrangement at that magical eye-level height mentioned earlier.

Grid style works wonderfully to group multiple images from a similar style, photographer or series (be sure to use a ruler and keep each frame 5cm to 7.5cm apart); while salon style lends itself to a more eclectic decorating style (just be sure to set it out on the floor first, or use masking tape and paper to plan it on the wall before you pick up the tools).

Propped vs hung

For super simple impact – and no need to tap into the toolbox – why not prop your artworks, prints or framed photos either atop a credenza or console table, inside a bookshelf or on designated individually-hung shelves? This is a technique that lends itself to laidback style and lets you regularly change or rearrange your personal gallery at a moment’s notice.

The unframed option – cheap, cheerful & changeable

For fuss-free hanging – especially easy in kids’ rooms where the in-demand display items can change almost hourly – opt for unframed drawings, paintings or prints hung from cute, coloured clipboards (especially effective if grouped together) or knock in a nail and clip from a series of skirt hangers for a more eclectic, industrial vibe.