IN PICS | There's an art to it: 10 ideas for displaying wall decor

From eye-catching ways to group multiple artworks to making use of picture shelves, here's how to show off your treasures in style

01 August 2021 - 00:02 By Robyn Alexander
Hang companion pieces close together to reinforce their shared use of colour and style.
Hang companion pieces close together to reinforce their shared use of colour and style.
Image: Bureaux

1. MATCHING PAIR

This pair of abstract artworks takes pride of place on the wall of a tranquil bedroom.

It's an excellent idea to place companion pieces close together to emphasise their joint use of colour and style, and make them the focal point of a space.

The additional rules to follow are also similar to those that govern the hanging of artworks in a classic "white cube" gallery: allow plenty of space around the pieces to avoid visual clutter, and ensure that they are not mounted too high up on the wall - an artwork should generally have its midpoint at eye level.

TIP: Combining beautifully with this pair of paintings by South African artist Jeanne Gaigher, whose work is available via Lemon, is a vintage Le Corbusier chaise longue - the perfect vantage point for contemplation.

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Incorporating art in a kitchen gives it the sense of being a living area rather than a solely functional cooking space.
Incorporating art in a kitchen gives it the sense of being a living area rather than a solely functional cooking space.
Image: Bureaux

2. IN THE MIX

Combining practical with aesthetic pleasures, this kitchen is situated in a stylist's home in which all the walls and fitted storage cupboards have been painted pure white to serve as an ideal backdrop for an ever-changing display.

It's a joyful, confident mix: a trio of golden ceramic ducks draws the eye upwards, shelves hold a mix of cooking essentials, framed artworks and collected treasures, and a favourite image snapped in Namibia is used as a focal point behind the hob.

TIP: Take inspiration from the photographic image featured, and enlarge and frame your own photographs. Then display them wherever they will regularly catch your eye and give you pleasure, from a kitchen shelf to a bathroom windowsill.

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This evocative wall-mounted fabric panel was inspired by early drawings of the flora and fauna of SA.
This evocative wall-mounted fabric panel was inspired by early drawings of the flora and fauna of SA.
Image: Bureaux

3. NATURAL RHYTHM

This home belongs to fabric designer Amanda du Plessis of Evolution Product who takes inspiration from the natural world for her creative practice, often doing months or even years of research before starting to work on new designs.

The framed artwork above the bed in the main bedroom is one of her own pieces: a fabric panel inspired by the drawings of early explorers in SA.

TIP: This is an easy idea to replicate: select a favourite piece of fabric, in a length slightly wider than the bed, and have it mounted and framed.

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This striking mural was created with the help of an overhead projector.
This striking mural was created with the help of an overhead projector.
Image: Bureaux

4. ALT ART

In this holiday home on a farm, where many paintings and objects can't be regularly dusted, the best way to create an art installation was to paint it directly onto the wall.

With the help of an overhead projector, the homeowner outlined and filled in an image of a hawthorn branch on the white wall of the kitchen-diner. Its thorns and flowers serve as "subtle reminders of the masculine and feminine elements balancing the home's interiors".

TIP: Create a similar look using readymade, budget-friendly adhesive decals. These need not be thought of as permanent installations: many of the adhesive versions can be easily removed and replaced by new ones when the look of your space - or your taste - changes.

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Artworks by Claire Johnson (left) and Dale Lawrence from Smith Studio.
Artworks by Claire Johnson (left) and Dale Lawrence from Smith Studio.
Image: Bureaux

5. IN THE PINK

The interior colour palette of this sun-splashed apartment is unusual but beautifully muted throughout.

This guest bedroom is painted in a soft and dusty pink, which sets off the pair of artworks in red, black and white beautifully.

The two pieces also combine a boldness of brushstroke and line that sets up a lively dialogue and adds energy to an otherwise tranquil space.

TIP: The untrimmed canvas on the abstract painting on the left is an unusual element that is worth keeping in mind when printing one's own images onto canvas for wall display.

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Ceramic plates are a practical choice of artwork for a kitchen where things can get steamy.
Ceramic plates are a practical choice of artwork for a kitchen where things can get steamy.
Image: Bureaux

6. WONDER WALL

The home of this art museum curator is an object lesson in the display of artworks of all sorts.

This exuberant wall of special and collected plates in the kitchen is a "Friends' Gallery" of handmade gifts, each of which has sentimental value.

The display features round and oval plates and multiple decorative styles and colours - an excellent demonstration of the fact that "carefully curated" need not mean overtly ordered.

TIP: The wall-mounted ceramic vases are an especially charming element: they offset the rounded shapes of the plates with a more linear feel, and emphasise the three-dimensional appeal of the installation when filled with fresh blooms.

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The black and white photographs are by Clive Will.
The black and white photographs are by Clive Will.
Image: Bureaux

7. COLOUR BLOCKS

A bold mix of colours in the casual living room of a family home gives it a playful feel, which is enhanced by the striking artworks.

Bright shades abound on the gallery-style wall around the TV - which features an eclectic mix of vintage prints, original artworks and a delightful fan - while a set of black and white photographs on the other wall offsets the bold colour beautifully.

TIP: The use of a range of differently sized pieces on the wall works to engage and hold the viewer's interest.

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The beauty of placing art on shelves is that it's easy to change up the display whenever the mood strikes you.
The beauty of placing art on shelves is that it's easy to change up the display whenever the mood strikes you.
Image: Bureaux

8. SHELF LIFE

This homeowner credits her geologist grandfather with her taste for collecting.

From Egyptian scarabs found in North Africa to vintage botanical art prints picked up in New York, she has an eye for items imbued with charm, history and a tale to tell.

Plus, her talent for display makes them more beguiling: using shallow picture shelves to display artworks is perfect for curator-collectors of all stripes because they enable an easy change up, refresh and add to the combinations in which your pieces appear.

TIP: These picture shelves are crammed with favourite artworks. To create a similar collection, choose a theme or colour focus - botanical illustrations, for example - then start hunting at auctions, in junk stores and online.

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The small artworks are a combination of pieces by Jonathan Freemantle and Sitaara Stodel.
The small artworks are a combination of pieces by Jonathan Freemantle and Sitaara Stodel.
Image: Bureaux

9. GROUP DYNAMIC

Shared by a sculptor and an interior designer, this apartment is filled with their collections of vintage furniture and artworks.

"It starts with one piece and then we create a narrative around it," they say.

As this cluster of small artworks in the living area shows, they are drawn to pieces that resonate with others they already have: placing them in a group close together enables the remainder of the wall to function as a sort of wider "frame", drawing the eye their way, and facilitates interactivity - a "conversation", if you like - between the four pieces.

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A trio of artworks frame the doorway in this eclectic bathroom.
A trio of artworks frame the doorway in this eclectic bathroom.
Image: Bureaux

10. FRAME GAME

When this historic home in a country town was renovated to include en suite bathrooms for its five bedrooms, elements of its past were enhanced via the use of architectural styles and finishes - and by adding artworks, in a wide variety of styles, from the homeowner's eclectic collection.

Here, a trio of delightfully different pieces - which also show a range of framing styles - have been hung to frame and emphasise a doorway, creating a vivid display.

TIP: Create instant visual interest with artworks by combining pieces in different styles: here, a full-length portrait, a vintage map and a lush landscape contrast to make each piece stand out more clearly - and memorably. — Bureaux.co.za

Photos by Greg Cox, Warren Heath, Elsa Young and David Ross for Bureaux.


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