5 ways to hang a bunch of pictures to best effect

Before banging a nail into a wall, it pays to give some careful thought to your picture-hanging strategy. — dpa/Christin Close

Hanging a picture is simple – you just hammer in a nail and put it up, right? Well, not necessarily. The hard part is deciding where the picture will work best in a given room.

“You can do a lot wrong, ” says German designer Katharina Semling. “People find something beautiful and hang it up wherever there is space, but often that doesn’t work in the context of the room.”

Semling believes furniture and pictures should fit together harmoniously. That doesn’t mean everything has to be from the same period or style. A baroque picture, for example, might look great in a modern room, because it could act as a conscious contrast.

The right height is also important, and that all depends on where the work is viewed from, as Felix Becker of the Federation of German Interior Designers explains.

If the intention is for a picture to grab people’s attention as they walk past, it should be hung at eye level, he says. “If, on the other hand, it hangs above the dining table, you should drop it down a bit so that you don’t have to crick your neck to appreciate it.”

For pictures hung on coloured walls, Becker recommends passe-partouts – cardboard inner frames that separate the picture from the outer frame. “That helps to serve as a transition – a mediating element, so to speak, ” he says.

And the frame should always match the picture, rather than the exterior environment. “An old oil painting can hang in a modern apartment. This is an exciting contrast. But in a simple frame it will appear out of place, ” says Becker.

And what if you have several pictures to arrange in your room? There are several possibilities:

Quadrate: Photos of the same size are arranged in rows. If you like things regular and straightforward, this will work for you. “Such an order also works when the motifs are related to each other and have a unified theme, ” says Becker.

Wild: A collection of pictures with no relationship to each other can be hung more irregularly. “But here, too, it’s often nice when small groups are formed that are more closely connected, ” says Becker. Alternatively, you could opt for the circular form, in which a few large-format images are placed in the middle and smaller ones around them.

Salon style: This is when many different pictures of different formats are hung in different frames. But these should not be arranged completely arbitrarily. “I would make sure there is some sense of an overall shape, so that it is not too stressful on the eye, ” advises Becker.
Semling adds that the images are placed relatively close to each other “so that they remain in relation to each other”.

Board: A strip or a board is the right choice for the arrangement of many smaller portrait and landscape pictures.

Gallery: Those who like to swap out their pictures once in a while can work with a gallery rail from which the works hang on a string. “That always has a professional touch, so it’s less suitable for snapshots, ” Becker points out. – dpa/Jana Illhardt

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