9 Art Displaying Mistakes Everyone Makes at Least Once (And How to Never Make Them Again)

updated Oct 13, 2022
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(Image credit: Breanne Johnsen)

Art is, and probably will forever be, an integral part of decorating and making a home. What’s not vital? Making the same art displaying mistakes that many of us have probably made at least once in our home-decorating histories. These are some of the most common art-displaying mistakes that can be avoided.

1. Hanging Art Too High

Some people cringe when they see a picture frame crooked. Me? I inwardly grimace when I see art hung too high, whether floating miles above a bed or a sofa or just awkwardly above eye level on a wall, solo. It’s the most common art hanging mistake, but also the easiest to fix. Want a free way to improve the look of your entire home? Take a walk-through to evaluate your home’s art hanging heights and see where any can be nudged down a few.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

2. Using the Wrong Scale

Want to cast an unpleasant feel on an entire room? Just hang a too-small piece of art in a place that obviously calls for something larger. Going too small or too dinky is definitely the more common mistake, and can be remedied by reframing a beloved piece of art with a larger mat or thicker frame.

But you don’t always have to strike the most obviously perfect proportion when hanging art, just remember the “go big or go home” attitude: If you’re going to do something out of scale to the rest of the room, make it obviously out of scale with the room, either way too big or way too small, so it seems intentional.

3. Too Matchy-Matchy

Your art is the best opportunity to break free from the confines of color palettes, so don’t get stuck thinking you can only display art that has a mix of the colors that are in the rest of the space.

4. Not Thinking the Wall Collage Through

Only the very lucky can brave their way through eye-balling hanging a wall collage and end up with the best outcome. It doesn’t matter what methods or tricks you use, just use one that will allow you to get the feel of your wall collage plans — experience whether it will come off feeling energetic or calm —before you start banging a bunch of holes in your wall.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

5. Not Enough Variety

It’s called the art gallery effect, and it’s when you hang the exact same type of art on every wall in every room of your home. It’s also known as “boring.” Switch up canvases and framed art. Hang tapestries. Pin-up quilts. Find a collection of all farm tools to attach to a wall. The point is, search far and wide for art pieces so it doesn’t end up looking like there should be a wine and cheese table in the corner.

6. Filling Every Wall

We’ve talked about negative space before, and it’s an important topic, because the very truth of the matter is not every wall needs to be filled with an art piece. This can be tough for folks who collect a lot of art, but it’s the kind of restrictions that could lead to lovelier, less hectic spaces.

→ Your Home’s Negative Space: What It Is and How To Use It to Your Advantage

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

7. Not Layering to Connect Art to the Rest of the Decor

Go ahead — place that floor lamp right in front of a hanging painting. Allow a few leaves of a plant to sneak in front of a framed photo. Connect your art to the rest of the space — and create a more sophisticated room in the process —by layering your decor.

→ How to Pull Off the Art of Layering in Interior

8.Not Hanging Things Securely or Properly

Speaking of crooked artwork, are you only hanging art with one nail, so it’s always tilting out of place every time someone’s slammed a door? You don’t have to bolt every frame into your walls like a themed restaurant, but don’t let the excitement of hanging something up get in the way of thoroughly thinking out what kind of hanging tools and hardware your art pieces need to go up securely (and stay that way).

9. Only Sticking to Walls

Leaning isn’t for everyone, but if you’re not at least experimenting with different places to put art, you’re missing out. Next time you’re feeling restless, lean a few pieces of art against the back of your couch. Or on top of a dresser. Just play with the idea of taking art off the walls and mixed into the rest of your home.

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.2.14-NT