I love the way a “gallery wall” of art brings personality to a room. Hanging some of your favorite paintings and photos together is a great way to show them off without being too precious about it. I like it when people combine more expensive, pedigreed pieces with favorite photographs they snapped themselves, or with their children or grandchildren’s vibrant finger paintings—why not? If you love all the individual pieces, they’ll probably work as a group (and if you change your mind about something you’ve hung, it’s not too hard to fill in a nail hole or two). Here’s my advice on arranging art in a way that’s elegant and interesting:
Mix it up, just enough. Groupings of art are especially eye-catching when you mix contemporary and traditional pieces, or hang photographs and drawings alongside paintings. That said, I like to have a consistent element that subtly ties it all together—that could mean matching frames, art with similar subject matter rendered in different media and styles, art in a single general palette, or surrounding all the pieces with a couple of inches of white matting.
Vary the scale. Try mixing small and large pieces, or small and large-scale images. In other words, if you love nature images, rather than doing all landscapes, mix in some close ups of the natural world. Love portraits? Try mixing together full-length images of people with upper-body or head shots.
Sometimes, more is more. Yes, this contradicts what I said above, but if you have a big group of images that are very similar (say, 8 nature prints or 16 antique etchings), then hanging them together in symmetrical rows can have a great visual impact.
Lay it out first. Before you grab a hammer, place all of the art on a white sheet or a big stretch of butcher paper, and position it different ways until you find a favorite arrangement. If you use butcher paper, trace each frame then cut out the tracings and tape them to the wall (using blue tape that won’t hurt the paint) in the proper arrangement.
Position it properly. A few general rules: The lowest pieces of art should be 6 to 8 inches from the furniture below them, and when you’re hanging a large number of pieces (more than four, say) they should all be consistently spaced (three inches from the piece below and to the sides of them, for example).