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
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.
- 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
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?
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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?
- 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.