Condos Photo Credit: Barry Calhoun

Expert Advice: How to Hang Your Art

Turn those bare walls into an at-home gallery.

At the age of four, Riko Nakasone’s artistic tastes ran to more permanent installations: her mother had to ply her with large scraps of paper just to keep the young art lover from drawing all over the walls. These days, Nakasone is just as passionate about stunning visual statement pieces, but her techniques for displaying them run a little more toward the refined. After 15 years with the Bau-Xi Gallery, she knows a thing or two about how to hang art in the home. “Trust your own eye and create your own vision,” she suggests. That’s easy enough for this experienced director and curator, who oversees and hangs a major show every month. But for those of us who need a little more guidance, Nakasone has provided these concrete tips, all sure to keep your latest treasure from “floating” on the wall or being overwhelmed by a space.

artwork above mantle
Interior design by Kelly Deck Design; artwork by Bau-Xi artist Virginia Mak

1. Set your sights

It’s standard to hang art so that the centre is between 56 and 58 inches from the floor—that’s where, as Nakasone explains, it’s in most people’s sightline. With higher ceilings, aim for the upper end of that range; in living rooms or sitting areas, think a little lower.

2. Keep it conversational

Art should take furniture into account, Nakasone says, so leave no more than eight inches between your painting and the mantel, or that gallery wall and credenza.

3. Find strength in (odd) numbers

“A grid of four or two pieces side by side makes sense,” Nakasone allows, “but groups of three or other odd numbers are often more interesting.”

4. Go wireless

Instead of using picture wire, use D rings to hang pieces—particularly in high-traffic areas. When hung with wire or string, art pieces are less likely to stay in place, so you’ll “constantly be righting them,” says Nakasone.

5. Put it on paper

When hanging five or more pieces together, lay them out on kraft paper first. Once you have an arrangement you like, trace the outlines, transfer the paper to the wall, and mark where the nails should go.

6. Practice sun safety

Certain media—like watercolours or photographs—are more prone to fading in natural light. Nakasone’s advice? Keep them out of direct sunlight, or invest in conservation glass to protect the pieces.

7. Exercise restraint

An empty wall can be to your benefit, Nakasone tells us, since “it allows what artwork you do have to breathe and shine.” A gallery wall of several different prints is a fun way to show off your favourite pieces, but a single, stunning work framed by plentiful white space can make a real statement—and can spark conversation.

Riko Nakasone; portrait by Geoff Webb.
Riko Nakasone; portrait by Geoff Webb.

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