Expert Eye: From Salon to Minimalist, and every hang in-between
It’s one thing to fall in love with an artwork and quite another to hang it to best effect within your home. Will an artwork look best if hung alone, in a pair, or in a salon hang? Stylist Julia Green talks us through hanging techniques to ensure your artwork enjoys the hanging justice it deserves.
TIP 1 / Decide up front: are you a minimalist
or a maximalist?
By nature, a salon hang is a busier display than a standalone work. It can be worth deciding up front if the style of your home will work best with a busy display, or if individual pieces pack more of a punch. Experience has shown me that those embracing a more eclectic, or even maximalist style will carry off a salon hang with aplomb, as the busy nature of the works fit in with the existing scheme of the home. Those living in a minimalist style home may opt for standalone large works so that they breathe and do not add visual chaos to their quiet surrounds. The good news is, there is no hard and fast rule. It is all about trial and error, and experimentation. If you are in doubt, you could also try masking tape in the various sizes of the work you want to hang, to see if the shapes and sizes suit the space.
TIP 2 / Strength in numbers
A salon hang can be quite daunting, and while it is not an exact science, it requires a lot of thought and preparation. Salon hangs can be very effective when there is a mix of size, style, colour and texture. However, a hang like this naturally requires more space for it be effective, so carefully select a space, such as a hallway or lounge wall, that allows the works to cohabitate and breathe.
A good starting point can be to determine a horizon line, so that the top of each artwork shares the same horizontal line. This can give the works a sense of symmetry and order, especially when there are multiple sizes and styles in the mix. To curate the works best, treat your collection as a jigsaw on the floor. If the composition works on the floor, it is likely to translate to the wall.
Depending on how many works you want to group, it is also best to allow breathing space between them rather than butt them right up to each other, as that can often take away the viewing pleasure of each work in its own right.
TIP 3 / Calming the chaos
The beauty of a salon hang is that you can display a mix of styles and themes all at once. However, you want to give some sense of continuity to the space. This is where framing plays a key role. If you want to calm the chaos, try framing each work in the same colour. On the flip side, framing a work can be a fabulous way to make a specific piece shine. You could frame your favourite work in the group in neon blue, for example. Although hung in a group, the work will naturally attract more attention than the others.
Another effective way to unify a salon hang is finding a common thread, whether that be subject matter, or even a colour that repeats itself in each work.
Confidence is paramount if you are to undertake a salon hang. Try not to dabble in it but commit to the process. It will be the difference between a considered look, and that of dipping one’s toe in the water.
TIP 4 / A happy medium
If a salon hang sounds all too daunting but an individual hang too simple, there is a happy medium. Let’s not overlook the power of a pair, or even a trio on your wall. Hanging works in a small group or a pair can create beautiful relationships between varying colours, themes or sizes. Hanging works in a pair can help balance a space and spark a conversation between the pieces. Where you hang the work is as important as the size and symmetry. If you want the art to be a focal point, try hanging the work above a key piece of furniture, or an architectural element such as a stairway, to attract attention to it.
Hanging art for maximum impact is personal. Experimentation, courage, and commitment are part of the process.
Featured image: Georgie Damm’s work Confined hangs above her larger work Rays on the stairway. Courtesy: the artist.