by Faith Teel
Sometimes when you move your art collection into a new house, it can feel overwhelming to try to find a spot for all of your favorite pictures. This can be particularly hard if you're downsizing from a larger space to a smaller one.
We recently had the pleasure of helping a couple install their art collection after downsizing, and we had a delightful time helping them curate their collection and turn their new "house" into a "home." One of the first photos we snapped says it all: the couple had arrived and placed their art more or less where they wanted it, but with nothing hung up, everything felt chaotic.
Our first order of business was to walk around the home with them and help them decide where the largest, most important items should be hung. (For smaller collections, we might even find a home for each piece on Day 1, but for with so many pictures to place, we decided the first day would be devoted to the most important images.)
By the way, notice the big framed textile which they had leaning in the photo above... it was more than eight feet long, and the couple hadn't found a good place to hang it. We'll talk about that one a bit later.
Meanwhile we got a start in the entryway and dining room, which are the first places you see when you enter the home.
There were lots of options for the art in the dining room, and the homeowners particularly liked this yellow horse and blue floral still life. Each of them was too small to hang alone on this long wall, and yet it looked strange to just have the two hanging there. I noticed another, smaller woodblock print leaning in a corner. You can't tell from this photo, but it includes small slivers of color which match both these pieces.
After an enjoyable time holding them up in various arrangements, we all decided this layout was the best. It's off-beat, but it works really well. Each piece holds its own against the others, and yet they all work together harmoniously. The small surprise of having the little one off to the side also makes you want to go over and take a closer look.
Turning to the left, there was an odd wall that just happened to match the shape of this beautifully-framed etching. (It depicts the ancient paintings from the Caves at Lascaux.) You can't tell from this picture, but there are glass bookshelves to the right which echo the translucent frame.
To offset the vibrance of the horse-and-floral wall, we decided on a soothing painting of the Maine ocean for the opposite wall.
Another painting we considered for that wall was this big, handsome eagle. He has a very fierce and intense gaze! In the end, we all decided that he was a little too intense for the room. Fortunately, my fellow installer Arthur stepped into the next room and immediately spotted a great home for it. This long view across the kitchen to the pantry/office lets you appreciate the painting both at a distance and up close, and draws you through the home.
We also got to work on hanging a small free-form gallery layout near the entrance. These five little abstracts each represent a harbor in Maine. (If you've noticed a theme, it's because the homeowners hail from the Pine Tree State.)
First, I cut out shapes from Kraft paper and loosely sketched the patterns for each painting so we could see how they would flow into one another. Then once we had a general placement, we called the homeowner to approve, and Arthur installed them.
Notice how the bottom center block doesn't quite line up with the one above it. This is on purpose! When we scooted it any further left, it lost the symmetry of spacing between the blue and yellow pieces on the ends. When we scooted it to the right, it looked too artificial. This little jog is part of what keeps the layout interesting.
Also notice how some of the shapes in these abstracts flow or "point" to the next picture... while the red and yellow one stands out like a little exclamation point. It's subtleties like this which we consider when we arrange a wall. You want a soothing arrangement, but with enough punch to keep it interesting.
In the living room, we also mounted a kingfisher sculpture, with a little help from the homeowner's kitty.
Last but not least, there was this big Masai textile. Remember it from earlier? The homeowners found this during their travels to Africa, and they loved it, but they still didn't know where to hang it. They were even thinking of consigning for sale.
But as we were working our way through the home, I noticed a long wall in a guest bedroom that really needed something special. It's one of the nicest rooms in the house because of all the sunshine flooding in. (And this textile is framed in UV-protective glass, so the bright light isn't going to fade the dyes.)
Look how well it ties in with the chair, the rug, and the throw pillow on the bed! Those were already in the room, and they were what cued me in to the potential. The homeowners were thrilled to find a spot for it.
I'll end with my favorite view. I usually keep my pictures small so they'll load quickly for you, but let's splash out for a widescreen view:
When we left, the home had gone from "chaos" to "comforting." We'd found a spot for all of the homeowners' most cherished pieces, and walking from room to room was like walking through an art gallery, only with comfy chairs.
If you have a treasured art collection of your own, and you need help deciding how to hang it, please get in touch. We've got an eye for it... and more importantly, we truly enjoy helping local art lovers feel at home.
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Owner: Arthur Teel
113 Rector Branch Road
Marshall, NC 28753