1. Throw out the living room rule book
We’re not fans of choosing art to match a colour scheme – instead, you should always buy work because you love it and then find a place for it. If the mismatch between your walls and your art feels too great, get your pieces reframed in a tone that bridges the gap between the two (a good framer will be able to match frames and mounts to wall colour paint charts). At the other end of the spectrum, neutral schemes are easily livened up by paintings and prints – which is why collecting art is great for renters.
When you’re ready to hang, think about scale and how your pieces fit with your furniture. Interior designers tend to advocate a ⅔ rule, which means a picture hanging above your sofa should be at least ⅔ of the size of the piece of furniture (ditto the fireplace etc). However, large original pieces tend to be very expensive, so it’s worth considering prints or embarking on a gallery hang with lots of smaller pieces.
"Large walls can seem daunting, but they are perfect for displaying art and offer limitless potential,” says Hang Up’s social media editor, Amalia Papaioannou. “One big, show-stopping piece – such as an interactive Tim Fishlock or a Patrick Hughes original – will be really impactful, but another great option is a diptych or triptych which will allow you to have more than one artwork while maintaining a unified, symmetrical look. If you’re really feeling creative, a gallery wall is extremely fun both to work on and look at. There are no rules and with a bit of filler and sandpaper you can always switch it up if you’re not happy!"
Got an open-plan layout? You can use art to section areas in the same way that you might do a rug or screen. Adding a gallery wall at one end of a long room will clearly delineate a marked-out space and give it a cosy feel; hanging one big, impactful piece at the far end of a long, thin room will create a focal point that draws the eye. Something that works particularly well to zone a larger space is to use multiples of the same image in one part of the room to define it (easily done by a series that comes in different colourways, such as prints by Swoon).
2. Don't get hot and bothered
Pause for thought before you hang your most treasured artwork in the bathroom, or any other area that gets hot or humid (such as the utility room). There’s a danger that water will get below the surface of the glass in your frame, creating rippling or patches of mold and instantly devaluing the piece.
"The bathroom is probably the most controversial space in a house to hang or display art,” says Amalia. “Bathrooms (more specifically, tubs and showers) produce a lot of moisture and steam. And moisture, especially if it gets trapped under the glass, can seriously stain artwork and matting. Inexpensive pieces, particularly works on canvas or ones without glass or glazing, are probably the better option.”
If you do decide to hang artwork in the bathroom, there are a few things you can do to mitigate disaster: “Always let fresh air in to keep humidity at bay,” says Amalia. “Use the fan and keep the windows open whenever possible. And choose acrylic instead of glass if you are framing your piece, too: it allows air to flow through but won’t break. "
Although it’s not without hazards, the kitchen is a better place to hang precious pieces, with the added bonus that it can break up the feel of boxy units or mono-colour schemes. Just make sure that the room is well-ventilated, and avoid placement near the kettle, hob, extractor or sink to prevent damage.
3. The loo's the place for creativity
Rather than letting tiny rooms predict the size of the art, go against the grain by using small areas such as the loo or home office to create walls of colour and interest. These places are a great way to experiment with bolder or different styles: after all, you can always close the door on the madness and walk away. "The loo remains one of my favourite places to hang artworks,” says gallery founder, Ben Cotton. “Because they tend to be compact, the spaces lend themselves to smaller (and often more humorous) pieces. We have an eclectic mix of works in our bathroom including one of my favourite pieces, a small linocut from David Shrigley entitled I'm So Great alongside other small works from artists including Joe Webb and Banksy. You can use art to make the space seem bigger, too: hanging vertically is a great trick to enhance the ceiling height. And, if you have shelves, then placing a picture or two within them can be a good way to add an illusion of depth and some extra space."
4. Get it right in the bedroom
The most obvious place to hang art in a bedroom is over the bed. This can be an impactful way to set the mood of the room (though it’s wise to stick with the ⅔ rule and ensure that the piece you choose compliments the size of the bed frame). For something a little more original, look for unexpected placements, such as by reading lights, or either side of the window.
Though you might want to steer clear of anything too shouty in what should be a peaceful sanctuary, don’t go too bland – the bedroom should reflect your personality, whether you opt for a celestial mantra from Lauren Baker or one of Delphine Lebourgeois’s feminist drawings.
Don’t neglect the kids’ bedrooms either. Fun works referencing familiar cartoon characters (such as those by KAWS and Katharine Bernhardt) will appeal to children – with the added bonus that they’ll provide them with investment pieces for years to come.
5. Style it out
Whichever room you’re decorating, mix and match styles to avoid everything looking too catalogue-like. As Hang-Up’s business development manager Charlotte Bain puts it, “there’s nothing better than walking into a room that has nailed the contemporary/traditional theme. Think Ai Weiwei in Blenheim Palace, Tracey Emin’s neon in Downing Street or a Banksy Girl With Balloon in an ornate, gilded frame – the juxtaposition always makes for a visual treat! There are no rules when it comes to mixing and there’s no formula to follow. Just decide what effect you are trying to achieve and make sure you have plenty of reference material. I always love a modern piece in an ornate frame, and Magnus Gjoen’s artwork lends itself very well to exploring mixtures of traditional and contemporary.”
To chat to us about art for a particular room or to find out more about work by one of the artists mentioned, please get in touch. And if you happen to share images of your Hang-Up art work don't forget to tag us and use the #HangUpAtHome hashtag - your beautiful home could be in the next feature!