Displaying art: 30 tips from designers and artists

Oh, the feeling when you love art but run out of ideas for displaying your collection. So it ends up in leaning against walls or stacked in piles while you wait for inspiration to strike or a maybe new empty wall to magically appear. But you know who’s great at showing off artwork? ARTISTS. So we looked through our home tours and found the very best tips for displaying art.

Everything is a collage

Tips for displaying art: "Collage wall" by a stair case featuring sculptures, prints, embroidery, shadowboxes, collectibles, and other pieces of art

Josh and Sandi D., Hallmark Designers and married people (that happens a lot, y’all), discovered ideas for displaying art that combine collections from their single lives. Different shapes and styles come together on walls, shelves, and surfaces to tell the story of their family.

Pro tips:

  • For large displays, consider the size, shape, materials, and color of each piece. Color palettes and materials are easy ways to unify the artwork. Look at themes, too—what stories do the images tell?
  • Be fearless about combining framed prints and flat pieces with shadow boxes, plaques, plates, and picture ledges. Put smaller collectibles on top of deep frames. Use museum putty, wax, or gel to hold dimensional objects in place.
  • Minimize clutter by divvying up larger collections and displaying a few items at a time, or putting them in different rooms.
  • Collaging your artwork is a great way to help everyone feel ownership of the home. Let kids choose the artwork in their rooms, and reflect the whole family in living spaces.

Art is in the eye of the beholder

Tips for displaying art: Beaded and gemstone necklaces draped over a metallic branch, displayed above a nightstand

Tips for displaying art: White multilevel shelving filled with framed prints, toys, and baskets; a onesie hangs on the wall

Tour Union Hill Studio’s Ashley T.’s and Think.Make.Share Managing Editor Tobe R.’s homes and you’ll find ordinary objects artistically displayed. When you have pretty things, why put them in a closet or a drawer?

Pro tips:

  • Add pops of color to neutral spaces by putting jewelry on display. Drape bold necklaces over a branch coated with metallic spray paint to treat statement pieces as works of art.
  • Use your grandmother’s china and other favorite antique containers to hold everything from pencils to makeup brushes to remotes. Ashley also keeps bangles in a vintage punch bowl on her dresser, and nail polish in an apothecary jar on her nightstand.
  • Infuse a room with a child’s personality by treating toys, books—even clothes—as objets d’art like Tobe did in daughter Elin’s nursery. Create vignettes on high shelves for items more pretty than practical.
  • Use a stylish wall hook for a rotating display of tiny fashion: Match the colors or theme of the room, hang on to a special-but-too-small outfit just a while longer, or just bring out tomorrow’s designated wardrobe.

Go out on a ledge

Tips for displaying art: two pictures ledges on a wall beside a bed display framed art, collectibles, record album, and a mirror

Tips for displaying art: Two framed prints hang over picture ledges filled with a child's books

The Devenneys and Hallmark Designer Lindsay H. know the joy and wonder that is the picture ledge. Displaying art without nail holes makes it easy to rotate pieces. And having a flat surface to rest things on means you can show off a variety of shapes.

Pro tips:

  • Try mixing up sizes and styles. From giant framed prints to teeny collectibles, ledges let you experiment with scale.
  • Play with layers. Don’t be afraid to go deep—let a big thing peek from behind a little thing. If the ledge is long enough, you can create multiple vignettes.
  • Trade out bookshelves for picture ledges to display your child’s favorite reads.
  • Not everything has to lean against the wall. Try hanging a few pieces between or above the ledges for a little variety.

Experience another dimension

Tips for displaying art: A paper mache giraffe bust hangs on a brick column in a dining room

Tips for displaying art: A carving of a figure in a boat is displayed in a plexiglass box

Tips for displaying art: A gallery wall over a mid-century modern buffet features a mirror, framed prints, and a textile sculpture of a unicorn bust

Hallmark Designer Dean K., Vice President of Retail Product Development Robin Y., and our Tobe add interest by incorporating 3D pieces in otherwise flat displays.

Pro tips:

  • Fake taxidermy FTW. Dean K. uses a whimsical giraffe head to add some kid-friendly vibes to a grown-up room. We love a paper mache, textile, or ceramic animal bust.
  • Adding dimensional art to a wall might mean getting creative—especially for valuable or fragile pieces—but the effect is totally worth it. Robin Y. mixes pieces from her travels with paintings and prints, using plexiglass display boxes to showcase her collection. It protects the art and gives it a museum feel.
  • Tobe’s daughter loves going over the names of the animals on the wall when she’s on the changing table. Including something dimensional on a gallery wall adds interest.

Words to live by

Tips for displaying art: A nursery features initial letters G and E displayed with ceramic deer busts; an accect wall features a framed print with the words "BE BRAVE"

Tips for displaying art: A framed print above a doorway says, "You will have a party"

Tips for displaying art: A gallery wall over a baby on a changing table features a pennant ("Do your best"), the word "henry" in rope letters, a print about canoeing, and other pieces of art

Sometimes the saying is flipped, and just a few words are worth a thousand pictures. Art Director Amy A., Robin, and Hallmark couple Lisa and Charlie H. include meaningful messages when they’re displaying art.

Pro tips:

  • Nothing makes a room your own like putting your name—or initials—on it. Try giant letters, hand-lettered names, embroidered monograms, and other personal stamps. (Also a handy way to tell which twin goes in which bed.)
  • Messages and mottoes don’t have to be super-serious. A little editorial can capture your playful personality where everyone can see it. Robin’s giant fortune cookie art is a reminder and a promise.
  • He can’t read yet, but Lisa and Charlie want Henry (above) to live an adventurous life. When you’re in some rooms—nurseries and home offices, for starters—you could maybe use a little outside inspiration. Find beautifully lettered quotes to remind you to be your best self or encourage you when times are tough.

The latest works by up-and-comers

Tips for displaying art: A little girl in a black dress points at clips on cables displaying pieces of art she made

Two true things: 1. Your child will always be your favorite artist. And 2. Children are ridiculously prolific, and there will be so many masterpieces you can’t possibly put everything up all the time.

Pro tips:

  • Move the artwork off the fridge and onto the walls by creating a rotating gallery. Include everything—just not forever.
  • Use clipboards, clips and cables, or just plain clips to hang the latest and greatest. Lennon’s work is on display all over her family’s house.
  • Give favorite pieces the same respect you give “professional” art—simple frames incorporated into gallery walls or collaged displays.

One big statement

Tips for displaying art: A large square framed piece of art (featuring orange stripes) hangs over a wooden sideboard that holds two lamps, small potted succulents, a bird sculpture, and modern digital clock

Tips for displaying art: A young boy walks by a palm and a piece of modern art

Tips for displaying art: A large framed portrait of a woman's face hangs next to a white sofa with yellow and white patterned pillows

The homes of Art Director Alfred J., Hallmark Couple Number 3 Darren and Jodi, and Robin all feature at least one oversized piece that commands lots of attention. Displaying art with a focus on a single piece can affect the flow of the room: The statement can be full of energy or a call for calm.

Pro tips:

  • Put a large piece in context by complementing it with neutral works in a similar style or from the same period.
  • Don’t overdo it. Alfred knows keeping an art display simple lets the work stand out.
  • Surround a bold work with white space—direct the eye to it by making it the only thing on an expanse of wall. When you have a limited color palette like Darren and Jodi’s, bold choices stand out.
  • For a clean look in a small space, try a giant framed image on a wall just big enough to hold it. A big piece on a small wall tells you exactly where to look in Robin’s art-filled space above.

Making matchy-matchy work

Tips for displaying art: A collection of folk art plates and figures is displayed on an open-front cupboard

Tips for displaying art: White English ironstone pitchers and bowls in an open-face kitchen cabinet

If you find yourself with a lot of something you love, sometimes the best choice is keeping it all together. Robin and Hallmark Photo Stylist Andy N. show how displaying art works with larger collections of similar or complementary pieces.

Pro tips:

  • Try a themed space: a wall, cupboard, or shelves filled to bursting with art that reflects a similar material, theme, or spirit. Instead of plates and dishes, Robin’s cupboard is filled with folk art.
  • Treat a cabinet as your canvas and your collection as the colors, and move them around until the arrangement feels right. Andy’s collection of white English ironstone is art with a purpose.
  • Use the changing seasons as inspiration, and swap out your collections to fit—or create—a mood.

Surprising art in unexpected places

Tips for displaying art: Two small pieces of art (framed and tile) displayed on open kitchen shelving over a counter

There’s no reason not to incorporate the art you love everywhere. Kitchens. Bathrooms. Closets, even. We collect artwork to make us happy, so why not put it everywhere we spend our time?

Pro tips:

  • Squeeze smaller works of art on windowsills or bathroom vanities. (Make sure you limit your choices to the water-resistant, fade-proof kind.)
  • Give your kitchen a cozier vibe. Ashley uses the open shelving in her kitchen to spotlight little pieces of art.
  • Keep it out in the open—or in places only you see. There’s something indulgent about beauty in private spaces.

Share what you know about displaying art.

What tricks and tips have you discovered in your spaces? We’d love to see them! Share your pictures with us at @Think.Make.Share on Instagram or on Facebook.

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