"Oh my gosh I LOVE THOSE BLUES!! I feel so good when I see your art!" These gushing words came from a zoom meeting attendee. The piece she was looking at over my shoulder hung over my couch and was a powerful piece in green and blue of the inside of a wave curling over.
Yeah, I love it, too. That piece had been hanging there for the past two years, but she hadn't seen it before because I had my laptop camera pointing elsewhere.
This got me thinking about art and where to put it.
First: Get Art
Classic Design rules – and all great interior designers from Ethan Allen to @BobbyBerk – state that first of all great design includes art!
And we mean real art. Art isn't meant to "match the couch" and sit quietly on the wall. It should reach out and touch your heart and give you a little "zing" every time you see it.
Original is best because it has an energy, power, and life of its own that can do WONDERS for even the most basic of beige rooms. Even if your budget says "squeak" you can get prints of original pieces.
Now that you have some pieces, it might sound obvious, but you want to put your art where people can see it.
Revolutionary, I know. Well what does that mean, exactly?
Classic Design Rules
Again let's look at classic design rules.
Unless you're doing a gallery wall (a wall intentionally covered from high to low in a bunch of different pieces) classic design says hang that art at "eye level." That's code for 60" (152.4 cm) which is the eye level of the average American woman.
That's cool if that's who you and your peeps are. But we're betting a lot of you aren't as classic as that.
Know Your Audience
We gotta know who the "people" that are going to be seeing our art are.
My family is above average in the height department. We come in at about 6 feet tall so eye height for us is about 67”.
Of course we have guests of varying heights popping by all the time (I think they're in it for the baked goods) and we want them to enjoy the artwork, too. We handle that by hanging artwork about 6” higher than the rules.
Does this work? It does indeed. We get to see the pieces that we love and feel like our home is really about us.
One day I had a much shorter friend over who said “I love that you hang your art higher than most people do! I feel like I can really see it!” It wasn't so high that she had to crane her to see it.
If someone in your home or a frequent guest is in a wheelchair adjust a few of their favorite pieces or use longer pieces that are more vertical. The eye level for wheelchair seated people is 43-51”
When decorating a public space remember to vary the height of pieces. Assume that someone in a wheelchair will use the space. Hang some pieces for their delight.
Change with Changes
That’s great for my home right now but we know that life never stays the same for long. Adjust for your household as it changes.
When my kids were younger, for example, I placed some fun art at whatever their eye level was. (It changed yearly because they were always growing.)
I also made art bigger and more colorful. I did murals on the base of the walls and let them help, too.
That was appropriate art for that time.
Now my art at home reflects my love of blues, greens, golds, and the ocean and it's up high where I can enjoy it.
Also adjust as you grow. As your tastes evolve, you discover new artists, travel to new places, and as your household changes you'll add art to your life.
Adjust for the Room
I also hang art a bit differently based on the room.
For hallways, I tend to hang a bit higher.
In the bedrooms I hang art lower since I am always viewing the pieces from bed. The piece I have of the beach surf greets me as I awaken and the gold catches the light. It's a delightful way to start the day even when I can't see the Pacific from my place.
The dining room hosts seated dinners so I have a very large piece in there (we're talking 48" high and 60" wide) that catches the eye from both a seated and standing position.
Art is about YOUR JOY!
Showing your house some love by putting artwork in every room is a fast and easy way to bring color, light, and something close to your heart on the wall.
Whether you’re in a rented apartment or house you own, art makes the place yours, and delights your eyes and mind.
Having spent the past few years staring at people's offices, bedrooms, nooks, living rooms, and cars through their zoom, I can tell you that there is a serious shortage of art on American walls.
Get some art going and get it out there for people to see! Hang it the way you and yours can really see and enjoy it.
Leave me a note to let me know your greatest challenges in hanging art. I love to hear from you!