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A Feature Wall Without the Paint

A featureless wall reminds guests that your house is merely a template. It is up to the homeowner to give the home personality. A fresh coat of paint is one way to change the look of a room, but another more original, more personal – and let’s face it, less messy – option is to create a picture gallery.

[Image sourced from World Home Design Ideas Magazine]

Picture galleries are a collection of pictures brought together into a tasteful, close arrangement across a wall. They can bring large, plain walls to life with a number of beautiful artworks. Here are 4 easy steps to creating a great picture gallery.

Step 1. Choose a theme

The most effective picture galleries combine a theme that connects all the artworks together in some way. One theme could be to incorporate the same subject matter into the paintings. The subject could be portraits, animals or Sydney landmarks. The benefit of this theme is that you don’t have to stick to the same artistic style; you can combine photographs with paintings, posters, or even more unusual paraphernalia, like street signs.

Alternatively you could stick to an artistic style, like impressionism, photography or art deco. Black-and-white themes are popular or you could display artworks by your favourite artist.

It is a good idea to pick imagery that incorporates the general effect of a room; bright and colourful landscapes, for example, suit the living room of a beach house whereas more somber, serious artworks or photographs are effective in the study.

Frames and matting should also blend into the theme. Natural wooden frames work for landscape pictures, but more colourful frames, perhaps of different materials, may be better for art deco and impressionist paintings. Simple frames are often most effective with photography and black-and-white themes.

Step 2. Highlight the central image

Once you’ve chosen your pictures, decide which one your eyes are drawn to first – this should be the central image of the montage. Normally, if the paintings are of varying sizes, the largest picture best serves as the focal point without detracting attention from other images. Centering the larger image also gives the arrangement a more balanced look. The eye will naturally progress to surrounding, smaller pictures.

Step 3. Pick a gallery template

The best template for a picture gallery depends heavily on your choice of pictures and the size and shape of the wall. You may choose to position a number of paintings above a couch or ascending a staircase. If the pictures are all the same size, a more symmetrical, blocked layout would suit a large, unadorned wall. Pictures of different sizes on the other hand look very effective with a more organic montage in smaller spaces – with the largest image in the centre, of course.

It may take a while to decide on the best arrangement for your pictures. You don’t want to go puncturing the wall with indecisive nail marks before you’re certain where you’ll hang each picture.

[Image sourced from SAS Interiors]

To decide the best layout, place the pictures on the floor first and experiment with arrangements until you find one you like most. Alternatively, you can cut out paper copies that match the size of your chosen pictures and tack them onto the wall before committing with the real thing.

Step 4. Place on the wall

After you’ve selected the pictures you like most and decided on the best template, it’s time to start hanging. Even at this stage, there are a few things to keep in mind:

- The centre of the gallery should be placed at eye level, which is generally about 140 to 150 cm from the floor. If the focal point is a large image, the centre of that picture needs to be at eye level. Otherwise, simply make sure your eyes align with the natural centre of an arrangement.

- Large paintings should be spaced about 5 cm apart. Smaller pieces, on the other hand, can be hung closer together; just make sure the gallery doesn’t look too enclosed and cluttered.

With the right selection of images and an arrangement that will optimize both the room and the pictures, a picture gallery will transform your living space. And without the messy hassle of a large paint job and the laborious cleanup afterwards, all that’s left now is to stand back and appreciate your work.

Richard Tarrant - Bio

Richard Tarrant - Founder and CEO of PictureStore Pty Ltd
Richard is founder and CEO of PictureStore and has worked since October 2000 to make wall art accessible to all Australians. Google+

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