How to get the hang of displaying wall art creatively

Our handy guide to lighting, putting up frames and canvases, and choosing murals

bedroom with printed wall and bed with pillows

(Image credit: Adrian Briscoe)

Canvas opinion

For a bold artistic look, hang a large canvas behind a sofa or bed. We love this striking blue and green 19th-century bookend paper, which sets the theme for the rest of the room. The swirling pattern is an apt match for the quirky bedhead and low pendants, while the green is picked out in the décor. The Marbled Decorative paper is from the V&A collection at Surface View.

room with photoframe on white wall

(Image credit: TBC)

The right light

An important aspect to consider when displaying works of art is the lighting. You don't want a painting to be in direct sunlight, as this may cause it to fade over time, but you need the right light to get the best out of your piece. Options include spotlights, which can be positioned to highlight certain aspects of the art, or picture lights, which give an all-over glow, usually from above.

TM Lighting has helped transform the reputation of the picture light with its LED range (its TM picture light in Gold, 400mm, is shown above). These slim fittings come in styles and finishes to suit classic and contemporary artwork and improve the distribution of light down the picture. These lights emit no ultraviolet or infrared rays or direct heat onto the surface of the artwork, helping to keep it in good condition.

When positioning picture lights, you should first establish key places where the artwork is to hang. For each picture light, ask your electrician to position a flush clock-point plug and socket 1.7m up from the floor as a guide. If the picture is hung with the centre slightly below eye level, a plug at this height should be concealed by the artwork.

bedroom with photoframe on wall and red bed with pillows

(Image credit: TBC)

In the frame

If you have lots of different-sized pictures and paintings that you'd like to hang, why not curate your own art gallery for a personal look? Choose a neutral colour on the wall and arrange the artworks in a variety of frames, as shown above. In this scheme, accents of red match the headboard and lend cohesion to the room and we particularly like the mix of pencil drawings, paintings and colour posters.

living room with printed walls and blue sofaset with cushions

(Image credit: TBC)

Scene stealer

If you don't want to hang numerous pieces of art, you could transform one wall with a striking mural. While a mural can make an arresting feature, it is something you've got to live with on a daily basis, so ensure you're going to be comfortable with it in the long term. Use the mural as your guide for accent colours elsewhere in the room to bring the whole scheme together. It should be the focal point, so try not to pick patterns or hues that will fight against it.

If you intend to enlarge a smaller picture to fit a space, zoom into a section of the chosen image to get an idea of how it will appear when blown up. If you don't want to cover an entire wall or you have a compact space, you could split a mural into panels to make a statement or put the image on a smaller canvas.

Based on a woodblock print, this view of Mount Fuji (above) has been blown up to epic proportions to create a dramatic focal point, complemented by cobalt upholstery. Hiroshige's Regnskyar, 270x450cm panel from Sandberg.

For more ideas on display art, check out these Ten ways to make a statement with art.