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Artwork in your home: the how, the where, and the what

The following is a guest post from Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles, and was originally published on June 15, 2008.

I love to inspire others to find joy in the simple things in life, as well as share my journey as a mom of three little boys. My passions include decorating and design, photography, literature, education, and family life.

So many Mt. Hope Chronicles readers are creative and enjoy beautiful homes, but they’ve expressed their frustration that the ‘where, what, and how’ of wall décor trips them up. I’ve heard the question over and over: “Exactly how do I hang things on my wall?”

Here are a few of the tips I use when decorating and designing the walls in my own home.

1. Match the artwork size to the wall.


Coordinate the shape and size of your wall decor with the shape and size of your wall space. Large items (or a grouping of small items) belong in a large space; small to small; horizontal to horizontal; vertical to vertical.

2.  Less is more.

Try not to fill bare spaces for the sake of simply filling a space. Wait until you have something perfect or a piece that you really love. While it might take some experimenting and arranging, a little minimalism looks more attractive than haphazard or inadequate arrangements.

3.  Go for three.

The Rule of Three applies to items hanging on the wall.  Go for groupings with odd numbers.

4. Or go for one.

If you have the space, be brave and try one over-sized element to make a bold statement.

5.  Don’t hang randomly.

Don’t place numerous disconnected pieces throughout a room. Choose one or two favorites, consolidate into groupings, or ‘ground’ a wall item with a piece of furniture.

6. Pay attention to height.

Aim for consistent wall height between furniture and wall decor throughout a room. Stand in the center of the room and turn slowly. Do your eyes move up and down to follow the focal points along the wall, or do they move smoothly?

7.  Go for eye level.

When hanging items on a blank wall, aim for roughly eye level. If you want to be exact, the center of the item or grouping should be 55-58″ from the floor. In a child’s room, it would be appropriate to hangPhotobucket items lower on the wall to match a child’s eye level. I throw the eye level rule out the window when hanging a picture above an item of furniture such as a piano or above a mantel. I then hang the picture comfortably in the space available, as long as it is not hugging the ceiling.

8.  Think outside the box.

Use unexpected items on the wall. If nothing else, they can be conversation starters. Hang game boards (Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly…), a grouping of white plates, decorative maps, empty frames painted in bold colors, a collection of straw hats or mismatched wooden oars for a summer atmosphere, a painted quotation, or an old door.

You are only limited by the bounds of your imagination (and your husband’s tolerance level). Look through catalogs, magazines, and decorating books scouting for ideas.

9.  Create your own art.

A canvas painted with a list of the things that makes you happy is much more personal in a home than a store-purchased, mass-produced, framed picture.

Create silhouettes of your children or a collection of treasures found on a nature hike secured in a shadow box. Hang a large framed cork board, a board covered with stainless steel for a magnetic surface, or a surface painted with chalk board paint for an ongoing creative process. I used a cork board to create a personalized Christmas advent calendar.

10.  Don’t be afraid.

Your home is a place for self-expression. A place to feel comfortable in your own skin. A place of acceptance.

Ultimately, only you (and the members of your family) need to love the way your home looks and feels. Throw these tips out the window if they are unhelpful or hinder your creativity!

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

What’s on your walls at home?

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Heidi blogs at Mt. Hope Chronicles, where she shares her life with three boys, homeschooling, photography, and her “forever house.”

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  1. steadymom

    We have a small piece of art representing each place we’ve lived as a couple (which has been a few!). It reminds us of all those memories shared together.

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Inspiration for Your Weekend =-.

    • jj

      I want to do that for my baby boy – I want to collect an art gallery for him of the places we go to. I hope he will appreciate it 🙂

  2. Stacie @

    Our walls are crying out for love! Most of them are bare, except for a few nicely framed portraits of our family. I’m guilty of doing nothing since I don’t feel confident in my abilities to decorate walls. I really need the advice in this post. Thank you!
    .-= Stacie @´s last blog ..Before I Was A Mom =-.

    • Briana

      I wish I felt confident in the wall-decorating arena! I think I’m terrible at it, plus I hate measuring things and when I mess up, there’s a gaping hole in my wall…
      This list is great, but even still, I wish someone else could just come and decorate my walls for me!
      .-= Briana´s last blog ..still finding time to smile =-.

  3. Rona

    We have alot of photos on our wall. I love creating photo galleries.

  4. L.L. Barkat

    I love to occasionally frame a piece by one of my children. There art is vibrant in unique ways. And these days I finally began my own art journal… now the visions keep me up at night… so much color, so much form… 🙂
    .-= L.L. Barkat´s last blog ..The Poet as Minor Pastor =-.

  5. L.L. Barkat

    Funny how my spelling goes out the window in a comment box. “Their” art of course. Ah, the humility bred in little boxes!
    .-= L.L. Barkat´s last blog ..The Poet as Minor Pastor =-.

  6. Teresa

    What a fabulous post…and great ideas…Can you tell me where you got the green wall hanging by point number 7. I love it……
    .-= Teresa´s last blog ..Blog Hop and the Famous Card Box Giveaway =-.

    • Heidi @ Mt Hope

      Hi, Teresa!

      I made the green canvas with the words. The first link in #9 shows the how-to.

      Heidi @ Mt Hope
      .-= Heidi @ Mt Hope´s last blog ..A Cottage Tour =-.

  7. Katie

    Decorating has always been challenging for me. Now that I’m paying attention, reading posts like this and actually trying- things are coming together in our home. Thanks for the tips and also the encouragement. It is our home after all, not magazine.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..My best friend =-.

  8. Megan

    We mostly just use our children’s artwork (unframed, for now) to cover our walls, but as they get older, we will probably frame and hang some of it.

    I love your blog and always come away feeling so inspired by what you share!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..August 14: SK Showcase =-.

  9. jj

    I love the door with pics and the advent calendar!! My sis-in-law has the biggest variety and amount of family pics in her pea-nut gallery. We were always critical of the cost going into it, but now I can see how much value it actually holds. She is freaked out about alignment and I must say: it really looks good when all the pics align on one side and on top or at the bottom – creates a nice starting point and helps to organize all the different sized frames and colours.

  10. Ruthie

    I love this idea – even I could attempt it! To understand the principles behind the look is so handy. I can’t wait for my kids to create artwork that we can all enjoy for years to come.
    .-= Ruthie´s last blog ..Family Friendly Weeknight Dinner Menu =-.

  11. melissa @ the inspired room

    We’ve always collected line drawings or water colors of places my husband and I have gone on our anniversaries, vacations and homes we have lived in. Those pieces of art mean so much more to us than anything we could buy at a discount store or art gallery!
    .-= melissa @ the inspired room´s last blog ..I {heart} Striped Rugs: Dash & Albert =-.

  12. Monica

    Great ideas for displaying art! I have a wire clothesline from IKEA hanging in my kitchen with metal clips to hold up 10 pieces of art at a time. My walls are never bare and are easily changed.
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..John Michael’s eye appt & Brushfield Spots =-.

  13. Carrie Russell

    I had a question about the silhouettes in the first picture. Are they each mounted or pasted on a canves frame, then all hung inside the gold frame? I would like to buy canvases at a craft store and paint a fun color… could I then paste the sillhouettes onto the canvases and then spray a gloss over it??

    • Heidi @ Mt Hope


      I cut out the silhouettes and then pasted them (probably with glue stick, since that is what I had on hand) on to painted canvases. You could easily spray gloss over them after pasting, which would give them a more finished look. I hung the empty wooden frame on the wall and then just mounted the silhouettes inside.
      .-= Heidi @ Mt Hope´s last blog ..A Cottage Tour =-.

  14. Kristin

    Love these ideas and I love decorating! So glad I found this site and I feel inspired by so many of the articles. I am in the process of working on our family mission statement because of a past post you had! Thank you!
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Stuffed French Toast: Scrumptious Saturday =-.

  15. pam shensky

    I recently had most of my children’s “artwork” digitally shot and put on disc, so i can use it as screen savers, birthday invitations, or email it to family. I just wanted to share that. p.s.

  16. lily evans

    I love to make family photos into fine art by framing them in an unconventional way. Also obscure photos of places you’ve visited could make for some nice artwork, by getting them printed on a canvas or deco-paging them onto wood scraps. Let your imagination soar!

  17. Mindful Mimi

    Hi there,
    I love art and consider myself an artist. I love to create my own art and my paintings cover our walls. I try to get my very young kids to paint and express themselves (which they have no trouble doing) and teach them that anything they create is art if someone likes it (and I always do).
    Thanks for the tips.
    .-= Mindful Mimi´s last blog ..Sunday laugh =-.

  18. Down Comforter

    Great tips! Love the “things that make you happy” idea. Sounds like a weekend project!

  19. Diana

    I dedicated one wall in my house and inscribed our last name on it using letter rubs on. I add photos to the wall of the kids over the year and add all of the kids artwork to it. They have a dedicated place to hang objects. My entire hallway (which is painted lime green and canary yellow) is dedicated to them. Fun for all!!

  20. cordelia

    I have –
    a vintage painting of a Latina girl and her doll, an oil painting of a mother and child that my mother painted for me, family photos (current and vintage), a Mexican ceramic sun, some original contemporary art from local artists

  21. cordelia

    I forgot to add that I also have some framed pieces that my son did when he was younger.

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