This floor-to-ceiling scheme works for any themed grouping—colorful kids’ paintings, black-and-white family photos, the neutral prints in antique-style frames (as shown here). Start by hanging a favorite piece at approximately eye level. Stagger the frames as you add them, placing the next one an inch or two to the right and another to the left (don’t measure—keep it loose), then above and below. Now step away and look at the wall as a puzzle. Next, fill in the blanks, item by item.
Oval art: Original ink-on-paper drawing in vintage frame by Don Carney, $900, patchnyc.com for info. All other art: Hugo Guinness vintage framed prints, from $425 each, johnderian.com for stores.
2 of 8William Abranowicz
Use Eye-Catching Art to Create a Focal Point
To shake up convention, hang a small, bold work of art just above an ornate fireplace; it becomes part of the mantel-scape and draws attention to the architecture.
Play around with arrangements on the floor before you hang. Start with a low center piece, then place your largest works on the ends to provide boundaries and visual weight. If you have pairs, keep them close to each other for unity. Line up the bottom edges of the display, and align the sides of the art to create crisp vertical columns of white space between the pieces. When you’re ready to move your plan to the wall, the bottom line should be about 10 inches from the top of the couch. Hang the lowest items first, starting in the center, then work your way up. Measure to leave two inches between the frames.
From left: Original India-ink drawing on paper, price upon request, samstill.com for info. Pen-and-pastel drawings (stacked) by Henri de Waroquier, $2,250 each, sentimentoantiques.com for info. Cup photos (in gilt frames), by Christine Rodin, $500 each, peninehart.com for info. The Feather Bed (below Cup photos), by Carin Riley, $1,000, 631-725-6260 for info. Waking (2007), by Jeremy Stenger, $6,000, hosfeltgallery.com for galleries.
4 of 8William Abranowicz
Place Large-Scale Art in a Secluded Spot
For an effortless, sophisticated vibe, lean a large piece in a quiet corner. Plexiglas won’t break if knocked over, but because big art is heavy, this is only for toddler-free homes.
From left: Figure, by Carin Riley, $1,000, 631-725-6260. Original India-ink drawing on paper, price upon request, samstill.com for info.
5 of 8William Abranowicz
Make a Tight-Knit Row of Sentimental Family Pictures
Gather up photos, paintings, and silhouettes in plain frames. Begin with a large item centered above a desk or a table (or simply in the middle of a wall) and at eye level. Add a piece to each side, hanging the frames close enough to touch but intentionally creating an uneven line on the top and the bottom. Continue, one on the right and one on the left, building out from the center. You can fill the width of the wall or not. Vary the subject, the medium, and the orientation (vertical or horizontal) for a playful feel.
Photos by William Abranowicz, $1,200 each, artandcommerce.com for info. Silhouette portraits by Katherine Wolkoff, from $2,500 each, katherinewolkoff.com for info. Dog portraits (oil on wood, framed) by Jeanne Hedstrom, $200 each, peninehart.com for info. Gallery frames in black or wood (similar to shown), from $12 each, westelm.com.
6 of 8William Abranowicz
Fill a Vertical Space With Colorful Framed Fabric
Mounted flea-market handkerchiefs (shown above) or silk scarves make cheery, inexpensive multiples. Uneven edges are part of the charm, so don’t make yourself crazy going for perfection. For the backdrops, cut heavy construction paper to fit the frames (use the cardboard inside the frame as a template). Iron the fabric, then attach it to the paper with one piece of double-stick tape near the top. Smooth it with your fingers and place it in the frame. Hang a series in a tall row or a square formation, depending on your space, measuring an inch or so between frames.
Masterpiece frames in white wood (16 by 16 inches), $34 each, samflaxny.com.
7 of 8William Abranowicz
Display an Unexpected Duo
Stack an oddball pair in a narrow area (like a wall between two windows) to turn an awkward spot into a curious, inviting nook.
Perfect for a bed with no headboard. Pick weighty material with a sheen, like silk. Mount a curtain rod so the fabric falls about eight inches from propped-up pillows (brackets should line up with the sides of the bed); drape fabric (a runner, a shawl, a scarf) over the rod like a towel. Switch seasonally or whenever you’re in the mood.