10 tips for displaying art in your home

We take a fresh look at creating unique displays of antique, vintage and contemporary wall art. Welcome to the gallery…

A large gallery wall of black and white prints lining a staircase
1

CONSIDERED COLLECTION

A gallery wall of modern prints on a dark blue wall behind a black dining room table with vintage yellow chairs
Add a personal touch to your home with an on-trend gallery wall. Prints from a selection at Desenio.

A sure way to inject personality into a space is to create a gallery wall of carefully collected paintings, prints and photographs. For a truly Instagram-worthy display, we recommend laying artworks on the floor to find a composition that feels balanced and connected before taking a hammer to the wall. Try starting with a larger painting at the centre of your grouping, and surrounding with complementary works, for a gallery that feels unique and in-tune with your home.

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2

FAREWELL TO FRAMES

An industrial style kitchen with vintage botanical prints hanging in front of white metro tiles
Create a relaxed and informal vibe by ditching frames and letting posters and prints hang unadorned. (Photo: Katya De Grunwald)

For a look that suggests informal elegance, why not do away with frames altogether and display artwork the natural way? Try hanging vintage wall charts from wooden skirt hangers or hooks for an industrial feel, or create a lively office space by sticking up posters and cards with colourful Japanese washi tape. Fully customisable and budget-friendly, these techniques mean you can play around with combinations to find an arrangement that perfectly matches your space.

3

BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL

An oversized romantic wall mural behind a white-washed vintage chest of drawers
Create a sense of drama with a large-scale wall mural. Allegory of Love, IV (Happy Union) mural by Paolo Veronese, from £460, Surface View.

We all dream of owning a dramatic Old Master or a sensual Renaissance portrait (anyone got £100m they could lend us?). But if you don’t fancy flashing the cash at Christie’s, oversized wall murals are an ingenious way to introduce works by the world’s most renowned artists into your home. From Picasso and Rossetti, to Constable and Turner, murals are a daring alternative to paint or wallpaper. Most come in manageable strips for easy application and, for less confident DIY-ers, some are even available with a handy sticky back. Style with pared-back furniture for a look that’s chic and romantic.

4

TAKE TO THE FLOOR

Contemporary typographic prints leant against a white wall beside a green velvet armchair
‘I never read. I just look at pictures’ wall art by Andy Warhol, £150; A2 Continuous Continents wall art, £75, both from Oliver Bonas.

So as not to damage walls covered in precious wallpaper and panelling, or for those living in rented accommodation, leaning pictures against walls or atop dressers and cabinets creates a relaxed feel. It’s best to pick a sturdy frame to avoid any warping, and prints can be rearranged whenever a room needs refreshing.

5

SHELF LIFE

Ikea picture shelves against an aqua-blue wall displaying black and white photographs
Mosslanda picture ledge, £4.95, Ikea.

If you love to rearrange your collection of artworks, picture shelves are a great solution. This picture ledge from Ikea has been a hit with interiors bloggers, plus it has a special groove to keep prints at the perfect angle. We’ll take three, please!

6

TRUE COLOURS

White ceramics and a white painting on shelves against a moody black wall
Colour-match art with antiques for a harmonious display.

Create a coherent display by colour-matching paintings to existing antique collections. For example, black basalt teaware could look distinct alongside a moody monochrome photograph, or pair chalky pottery with a gentle whitewashed still life.

7

MIX IT UP

A gallery wall of paintings above a mid-century teak desk and Eames chair
Padstow carpet, £69.99 per sq m, Brintons.

If it’s the sleek and sophisticated look you’re after, choosing matching frames is the way forward. But for those with an eye for the eclectic, a hotchpotch of frames and prints from different styles and eras adds a sense of playful fun.

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ONE STEP AHEAD

A large gallery wall of black and white prints lining a staircase
Image credit: Georgia Burns

The wall space alongside a staircase is often forgotten, and it’s prime for displaying artworks. Stick to monochrome prints and frames for a dramatic feel, or up the saturation with clashing tones and patterns. Try staggering frames in a gentle incline for maximum effect, and break up any similar works with quirky curios, wall hangings, ceramics or trailing plants. If you’re feeling particularly bold, why not paint your steps or balustrade in a contrasting colour? Or pick a stair carpet runner in a complementary shade to complete the look.

9

A PLATE FULL

A swirl of blue and white china plates mounted on a white living room wall.
Rethink classic displays with this charming plate arrangement.

We love displays of prints, paintings and sculptures… But why stop there? Whether you have a carefully curated collection of vintage china, or an incomplete dinner set inherited from a relative, positioning plates on a wall can be a whimsical way to update your scheme. Swirl around room corners, scatter across a wall, or create a striking display of colour and pattern with a tight cloud-like cluster. If you’re dreaming of an impressive arrangement, regional auction houses or antiques fairs are great places to pick up pretty sets or quirky one-off pieces to match the existing colours in your home. Pair with hand-painted contemporary counterparts, by designers such as Laura Bird or Rory Dobner, for a fresh and upbeat combination.

10

ECHOES OF THE PAST

An eclectic display of antique prints above an antique Chinese bureau
We love the way this early Chinese bureau is framed by delicate antique prints in the master bedroom at Cothay Manor in Somerset.
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Subtle artworks can create a harmonious background in antiques-filled rooms that won’t steal attention away from statement pieces. For a traditional finish, look for art motifs that reference the past – vintage fairs and markets are a good place to start – along with gilt or solid wood frames to add an elegant finish. Oil paintings and watercolours naturally lend themselves to classic interiors, but for a look that oozes antique charm, try framed insects or pressed flowers to create a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ impression, or retro film and music posters for old-fashioned glamour.