top of page

Ideas 03 - wall paintings method

Your newly-finished apartment/house will not be called your ‘home’ until you hang your favorite pictures on the wall and placing your personal items on the shelf.

If a piece of art is displayed prominently in the center of the room, we create a museum or a gallery. For our home, it’s important to match the pictures with the room harmoniously.

Form follows function

In the documentary <samurai architect>, tadao ando was visiting his site when he found the signage of toilet were placed at the right side of the partition wall to just align with the alarm light vertically centre to centre. It might seem perfectly normal to site engineers, but ando insisted to have the alignment horizontally so people won’t be guided to the right side mistakenly for the toilet when it actually located at the left side.

This principle of ‘form follows function’ applies to the positions of wall pictures, too.

For example, in the picture below, the half-revealed blue painting on the further wall indicates a second room and draws visitors move toward it– a smart space guidance with exhibit itself.

we can duplicate this method into our homes.

Look at the two corridors below. Don’t you feel more intrigued to walk through the corridor and find out more about the space after the pictures were hung opposite the grid glazing door?

A picture placed near the door way creates the hierarchy of the space and draws you into the space behind it, just like the gallery guidance.

A painting at the end wall of the hall way tells a first-time visitor: this is the end.

Choose and Match

In landscape design, we have different methods of planting styles. Here we introduce the first term ''solitary planting’’. Literally, it means that a single big tree grows in the vast meadow is the center of the landscape.

How about we simulate our home space as a garden, and a picture as a plant?

A large-sized wall picture beats all the soft furniture in the room and wins the main character cast of the space.

Pay attention to the scale in the context of the space.

Most people tend to choose a similar sized/shaped picture regarding to the given wall. But sometimes, the ‘a box inside a box’ could turn the space really dull. Why not try the opposite way?

Choose a squared picture when you get confused because it works most of the time.

The second term in landscape design is ‘coupled planting’. The aesthetic effect comes from the symmetrical layout and outlook.

Use the twin pictures and align them perfectly easily create an elegant vibe.

Or you can arrange the twin paintings asymmetrically: have them mis-aligned or even have them perpendicularly positioned. The space will look more relaxing and cozy instead.

If you are hanging three pictures, it would be boring if you lay them in a same row or with same sizes.

Try triangle layout.

When we are going to hang more than two pictures, it’s time to learn about ‘group planting.’

Unlike solitary planting being the eye-catcher of all, group planting serves as the background canvas of the space. And we are talking about wall collage here.

If you prefer a classical style with strong orders, choose the frames with same size and color in array arrangement.

But do pay attention to the frame distance. Not too close, not too distant, just right amount :-p

Allow your furniture to sneak in front of the pictures is one way to connect your art to the rest of the space. By layering your decors from picture to furnitures or even your pets, one can create a more subtle and sophisticated space.

If you have Allodoxaphobia (aka, if you cannot make decisions), use gallery walls of pictures that you like in no styles or order would be the best solution.

For a free and cozy space, leave the largest picture at the bottom or side. Add small pictures around it.

If you hope to make the space an order, place the main picture at focus, align with your focus.

Special arrangement of gallery wall at the wall corner.

Take your gallery wall as a long-term plan as you live by in your home. Try not to finish it at the first place with a bunch of same typed pictures. instead, run your gallery wall as your experience display. Change it occasionally can change your perspectives to your home and life.

match the frames

A frame can transform a work.

Physically the frame is the buffering transition between the painting and the wall. The thicker the frame is, or the larger the mount is, the larger the buffering zone is.

A frame isn’t always necessary though.

When the picture is with vibrant and bold colors, set it free.

If you have a picture that is b&w in abstract, use floating mount in a frame for better layering.

Match the frames not only to your pictures, but also to your room.

Light-colored frames can expand the space in a visual point of view while the dark ones draw you immediately to the center of the space.

Pick the frame color from the picture makes the focus on the the story of the picture.

Pick the frame color from the flooring or darkest color of the room makes the harmony of the complete context.

There are no rules on which frames to use for different styled space.

It’s not always the case that the conventional ornate gold frames are used in the 19th century Parisian apartment. Try a narrow frame for a modern and chic look.

Similarly, use the heavy metal frame to display your art in a modern living room will bring more of your enjoyment of the space.

After all, mix and match is the key.

-the end-

About the author:

草三冉 Cao San Ran

is an interior designer and writer, based in Canton area, China. He has been working in design industry for over a decade both in Japan and China. His works are always well-thought-out in layouts and details to ensure the unique and best hierarchy solutions for each client. His great writings also put an in-depth theory into an accurate but simple explanation that made me a big fan of his.

If you read Chinese, scan above QR code to read more articles in Chinese from 草三冉.

I will be happy to translate more of his works to share with English readers.

bottom of page