Hung by the Chimney with Care

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Isn’t is funny how it is human nature for people to ask “free advice” from professionals when in their company??  Whether it be a doctor, a lawyer or any other expert, people just can’t help themselves from asking for solutions to their latest problem or ailment.  And as all interior designers know, this phenomenon applies to us too!  I think one of the questions I am asked more than anything since I am a designer and an art gallery owner, is how to hang art.  How high should it be? If hanging a grouping where do I start? And how far apart? And as interior designers also know, it is impossible to give this sort of advice without seeing the space or the art in question. 

I happen to think that New York Designer Glenn Gisler did an amazing job hanging the art collection in the room above.  It is so interestly assymetrical over the fireplace and flanking it on either side. It is so sophisticated and looks as if it was a collection that was compiled over time…even if it wasn’t!

I recently ran across an wonderfully written “how to” from Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan Co-Founder/NY Editor for Apartment Therapy, one of my favorite blogs.  And when seeing it pop up again on another favorite site, All the best , I thought it a must to share this with all of you.  And since the “art hanging lesson” was built around a handsome art display in a Kate Spade’s store in SoHo, I found it even more appropriate to follow behind my blog yesterday about Kate’s Fab Holiday Papers.

As you can see, you can create a very interesting display by grouping an eclectic mix of sizes, styles and mediums.

But where to start?? Well in the center of course! Each piece in this display hinges off the placement of the very first piece.  There are many ways to create a successful grouping and one way includes the stair stepping method shown in this diagram.

You can also look at it as a descending line or arc.  This curvelinear placement adds a softness that is easy on the eye and appealing to most people.

This diagram is certainly the one I relate to and the way in which I approach hanging a collection.  It is based on a center axis.  This is an approach that would be appealing to architects and those who love symmetry but desire a more interesting result.  So in this instance, you would place the 5 pieces in the axis first and then hang each additional piece in relation to those immediately adjacent to the next.  In this approach, as long as each piece makes since with the 2-3 pieces surrounding it, the final result will be perfect!!

And keep in mind that you can always lay the display out on the floor first to get a feel for the grouping before you start with the hammer.  You can also keep the display a little more simple by coordinating the frames. 

Here are a couple of spaces where I have used collections of art.

 In this designer showhouse, I created a gallery out of the hallway.  I made the collection cohesive through the subject matter, each piece is a nude or figure study, but in a mix of media.


And on the bedroom wall, I “framed” this collection with plaster paneling to create a focal point.


In this bathroom, I used a collection of art to simulate wallpaper…but the good news is you can take it with you if you go!


And in my den, I hung a collection of like pieces over my sofa with absolutely no space between the frames, they are literally touching each other!

I opted for an assymetrical layout balanced by the wood sculpture over this mantle. 

And a few rooms from other designers that I thougth were worth including!

Here is one of Australia’s House & Garden picks for the Top 50 Rooms for 2008 just announced on their web site gallery

 Compliments of Domino Magazine

Also from Domino

And one more from Domino Magazine.

From designer Katie Ridder.

As is evident in a very interesting corner display from designer Barry Dixon, there really are no rules.

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3 Responses to Hung by the Chimney with Care

  1. Ashley says:

    Tobi, this is exactly the kind of thing I never have time to ask you at the office! Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Kymberly says:

    Tobi, what type of fabric is on your black den couch? thank you!!!

  3. Tobi – Your work is beautiful. Just sent this link to my mother-in-law who is decorating her new place. She may use some of my drawings and I wanted her to see different options for hanging groups of drawings. As an artist I find these display photos very inspirational! Thanks.