How to display photos and pictures on a wall

Displaying photos and pictures on a wall is an art in itself. Follow our tips and tricks to get your gallery wall just right

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If you're redesigning a room, a display of artwork will add character, help pull the colour scheme together and create a focal feature. But how do you display your photos and pictures in the right way? Follow these tips and tricks to get your artwork gallery right.

Achieve a balanced display

When grouping pictures, it’s best to hang the larger, more heavily framed or more imposing pieces to the left, which is where the eye will naturally look first, and the lighter, smaller pictures to the right. 

Read more tips on hanging a gallery wall.

Add greenery to a modern living room

(Image: © Desenio)

Take what's beneath the artwork into account

Don’t forget that if you’re hanging pictures over a piece of furniture on which you will be displaying accessories, you’ll need to factor in these objects when creating an arrangement. Working the shape of the gallery around these objects artfully will give the two cohesion.

White solid wood flooring in living room

White oiled single stave solid wood flooring blocks by Junckers

(Image: © Junckers solid wood flooring)

Create a grid

If you have lots of different pictures with a similar colour theme – even if the frames don’t match – create the effect of one large picture by grouping artwork in a tight grid that forms a square or rectangle. Find out more about grouping pictures below.

Striped runner up stairs

Masai Emerald flat weave runner by Roger Oates Design

(Image: © Roger Oates)

Colour scheme your artwork

Choosing accessories that pick out the shades in your artwork will help you draw your room’s scheme together and will also intensify the picture’s colours. Consider the colour of the wall your artwork is displayed against, too – it may be that a colour that will highlight one of the accent tones in the picture can show it off to greater effect. A group of photographs featuring similar colours will also work better together, such as all black-and-white images.

Wall gallery with different frames

(Image: © Desenio)

Ensure the scale works

If you’re hanging a single picture or group of pictures above an item of furniture – whether a sideboard, bed or sofa – try to match the artwork’s proportions with what sits below. Exactly the same size is ideal, but up to two-thirds of its width will work, too.

Display pictures in a surprising place

Sometimes artwork will have greater impact in a room if it’s placed in a position you might not have considered at first. This could be behind the head of a bed, in an otherwise unadorned corner of a room, at the end of a corridor or even in an overlooked cloakroom.

Panda fine art print in a pink bedroom

(Image: © Lola Design Ltd)

Complement artwork with accessories

Whether you’re leaning art on a piece of furniture, mantelpiece or shelf, or hanging it low above a sideboard or chest, you can enhance the artwork itself with accessories that complement it. This simple arrangement (below, left) works because the colour theme is consistent and the scale of each piece is different, producing a pyramid effect that creates interest and pleases the eye.

Layer frames

Ideal over a shelf, fireplace or above a piece of furniture, layering artwork is simple – but remember that it won’t work on a blank wall with nothing below it but floor space. Use a variety of frames of different sizes and finishes, hanging the largest frame first and working the others around it until you find an arrangement you like.

Desk with artwork from The Dormy House

(Image: © The Dormy House)

Check the proportions

Before you choose a picture to hang on a wall, work out whether the size and shape of the wall space you have complements the proportions of the artwork. Tall, rectangular pictures or groups look better on walls with nothing but skirting beneath, while wide, rectangular pictures or groups look best above a sofa or sideboard; small pictures hung in vertical groups suit the space between windows or door frames, or in a horizontal line so as to lead the eye along the length of a hallway.

Desenio gallery wall

(Image: © Desenio )

Hang odd numbers

If you have just a few pictures, an odd number of pieces grouped together can be more pleasing to the eye than an even number. You could use the middle picture to fix the wall’s centre-point, but don’t be afraid to display them off-centre, too. Group small pictures so the gaps between are no larger than 5cm, while allowing up to 10cm between larger pictures.

Unify a group of images

If you have a disparate group of frames, image sizes and subjects, you can easily unite them by creating a false frame on the wall behind with a simple, painted panel (think colour blocking).

Consider the whole room

Pictures are usually displayed all around a room, rather than on just one wall, and rarely match in size and shape. To unify the group, use similar frames or a colour theme that runs through it. When hanging pictures, don’t try to line up the tops or bottoms of the frames. Instead, use the mid-point of each picture or grouping as a guide.

Yellow sofa with artwork on shelves

(Image: © Loaf.com sofa)

Get the height right

Positioning a picture at the right level in a room is key to its success – they are often hung too high, creating a disconnect between the image and the furniture below. Ideally, the centre of the picture should be at eye-level, although in a living room, bear in mind that you’ll mostly be seated, so the picture might need to be a little lower – aim to hang the bottom of the first frame of a group at around 10cm above the back of the sofa.

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