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Special Fall Home Design Issue | Display

Tips from the experts

September 28, 2003|Barbara Thornburg | Barbara Thornburg is senior home design editor for the magazine.


Use angular moldings with edgier pictures and curved moldings for more sensuous images.

Frame with ultraviolet plexiglass instead of glass. It won't break and it offers better protection from harsh sun.

Never put tape or glue on fine art photographs.


Hang photographs in clusters "salon style." First measure the wall space to be used for display. Then tape an area the same size on a bare floor. Try different layouts, and take a Polaroid of the grouping you like best. Begin hanging from the bottom center of the wall, then move out right and left, keeping the inside spacing between photographs even (about 2-3 inches) and the irregular spacing on the outside.

If you have a large collection that you prefer to rotate, use frames that are all the same size and color so that pictures can be easily substituted. Frames should have unsealed backs and turnkey hooks so that mats can be easily popped out for reframing. Darker frames are recommended for enhancing black-and-white photographs.


Call in an expert for hanging heavy artwork. Hang small pieces of art (up to 100 pounds) on Floreat weight-appropriate hooks. For pieces more than 100 pounds, use a Moly expanding anchor in the drywall, or a lag threaded screw in wood.

When using eyehooks, create additional stability in case of an earthquake by threading a wire through the eye of the hook and vertically around the horizontal wiring used to hang the frame. The second wire will keep the painting from falling to the floor should it be jolted.

Add two layers of rough-sawn plywood atop drywall and paint charcoal to create a neutral reinforced background for frequently changed art, as nail holes are less likely to show on the rough surface.


With the Arakawa kit, art can be hung using steel cables and hooks along an aluminum rail that runs around the perimeter of the ceiling, preventing unsightly nail holes.

Display small works of art such as photographs and religious art by propping them on narrow wall-to-wall shelves.

Keep collections of small objects such as artifacts and costume jewelry in cabinets with shallow drawers.

Set small sculptures atop Lucite pedestals to give the illusion the pieces are floating; add swivel tops for 360-degree viewing.


Leave space in front of artwork so viewer can step back and view it comfortably.

Don't hang pieces too closely together as they tend to get lost or overwhelm one another.

Allow room for walking around a free-standing sculpture.

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