Banish the blues with colourful art

Surefire strategies for placing, hanging pictures

Yvonne Jeffery, Calgary Herald

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008

with Christmas colours behind us and patio living still months away -- it's time to beat that seasonal ennui.

One fast solution? Jazz up your living space by playing with the art on your walls.

"Moving your artwork is a quick and easy way to spruce up your decor," says Liette Tousignant, a Calgary interior decorator and the inventor of the Hang & Level tool for hanging art.

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Even better, moving the art doesn't have to cost you anything (great for post-holiday belt-tightening).

"A lot of people move the furniture, but are afraid to move the art because of all the holes they have behind the picture," Tousignant adds with a bit of a chuckle. (Hey, we've all been there.)

"But artwork is an extension of your furniture -- that picture that's hanging above the couch has to move unless you have another piece of art that you want to replace it with."

She also notes that change can be a good thing.

"If you have a piece of artwork that's been in the same place for a year or more, take that piece down and move it to another wall. All of a sudden you'll rediscover it."

As for all those leftover holes, Tousignant suggests using a small tube of spackle or drywall compound to fill them. In a pinch, toothpaste can mask them and so can children's modelling clay (which comes in plenty of colours).

For more solutions, check out our dilemmas and tools sidebars as follows.

Artwork dilemmas?

We've got solutions. Interior decorator Liette Tousignant offers these tips to help you deal with tricky artwork problems.

Problem: My picture frames never stay level on the wall. Help!

Solution: The best option is to use two hooks and nails to hang the picture -- this distributes the weight more evenly (if you're hanging a series of pictures horizontally, it also allows you to adjust the position of the pieces so that they're evenly spaced). Otherwise, try putting rubber bumpers (or removable poster "tack") on the back of the picture frame, or tightening the picture hanging wire.

Problem: I don't have tons of money to spend, but my walls need something.

Solution: You don't have to spend a fortune, says Tousignant. Try framing children's artwork, beautiful fabric, bold wallpaper or even clothing (perhaps a sari, kimono or hockey jersey).

Problem: What size artwork should I hang above my furniture?

Solution: Hang small items over small pieces of furniture and big items over larger pieces -- that's the essential rule. Tousignant suggests that artwork looks best when it's two-thirds the length of your furniture; if you don't have one big art piece, try combining two or three that will make up that two-thirds.

Problem: There's something not quite right with my artwork placement, but I can't figure it out.

Solution: Take a photo of your room. The problem will likely leap out at you on the printed photo because it provides a different perspective and cuts out nearby visual distractions.

Problem: I want to hang a series of pictures -- how should I align them?

Solution: For a horizontal series, align the pieces so that the tops of the frames, the centres of the pictures or the bottoms of the frames are in a line. For vertical series, it's best to keep the centres of the pictures in a vertical line. Tousignant adds that she loves to hang odd numbers (if you have three pieces, hang the centre one first and then the ones to the left and right).

Problem: How high should I hang my artwork?

Solution: If it's an area in which people will be standing, try to place the centre of the art 150 to 165 centimetres (60 to 66 inches) above the floor. If it's an area where people will be seated, it's a little more difficult -- but try 105 to 120 centimetres (42 to 48 inches) above the floor, and be sure to anchor the piece (don't hang it too high above the furniture -- try 20 to 25 centimetres, or eight to 10 inches, above a couch, for example).

Placement depends partly on how tall you are.

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Handy hanging tools

- The Hang & Level, at left, isn't just a great concept -- it actually works.

You hang the artwork on the Hang & Level tool, position the art on the wall, take the artwork off the tool, and press the button on the tool to mark the nail position.

The tool eliminates the guesswork that results in all of those extra holes and saves plenty of time, too.

You'll find it for $19.99 at Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Linens 'n Things, Home Outfitters and Blacks. Check for more information and tips.

- New on the market from Stanley, and currently available only at Wal-Mart, is the Home Accessory Kit, pictured above, retailing for $12.97.

It looks handy enough, with all kinds of hooks, nails, picture hanging wire and screws sitting in an inexpensive plastic box. But look again: the screws have Robertson (square) heads, which is nothing short of a miracle in do-it-yourself land.

Most kits like this use Phillips (star-shaped) screw heads -- notorious for allowing drill bits and screwdrivers to slip out of the screw (usually gouging the wall ) and for being easily stripped. The Robertson heads provide a much better footing for drills and screwdrivers.


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