The basics of displaying art in your home

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Design: The Association

When it comes to displaying art, some rules are timeless. Artworks should relate to wall size and furniture size and not overwhelm the room. Choose a wall where the piece(s) will have maximum impact – over a sofa or bed, along a hallway, above a sideboard and so on. But do not overlook other less obvious locations. Art collector and interior designer Alvin Kwan of Homme Space has so much art, he had to be creative when looking for wall space. “I hang my artworks under the stairs, on the ceiling and in the kitchen.” (See Alvin's art-filled home here!)


Put it up right

The centre of the artwork should be at eye level and working out where to place the hook requires some calculations. Measure the painting’s height and divide it by two. Add this to the height of your eye level (about 150cm to 160cm) to know where the top of the frame should be. Next, pull the wire at the back of the painting taut and measure the distance from the wire to the top of the painting. Subtract that from the point of the top of the frame and mark it on the wall to place the hook. 

You can use hammer-in picture hooks or temporary stick-on hooks (works best on non-porous and smooth walls) for lightweight and inexpensive paintings, but more substantial art should be secured well. “The most commonly used method to hang heavy frames on concrete walls is the drill-and-screw method,” says Magnum Choy, creative director of Talent Arts Gallery & Frame Makers. “This method can hold more than 20kg.” For gypsum walls, he suggests using butterfly hooks. These are designed to “open up” within the partition wall to add more surface-area support. You could engage framing specialists to install the art piece for you as well. 


Ready-made or custom framing? 

Ready-made frames of standard sizes are inexpensive, but don’t preserve artwork as they are not airtight. Chances are that they come with an MDF backing board, which can leech acids into your artwork.

Custom framing allows you to choose the style, colour and thickness of the frame, and preserves the art much longer. Within the frame is the matboard, a coloured cardboard bordering the art. It prevents buckling caused by the weight of the artwork, and it keeps the glass away from the artwork’s surface. This prevents condensation from damaging the artwork. You can choose UV-filtering plexiglass to prevent UV-rays from destroying ink pigments.