The Dos and Don'ts of Hanging Art Against Wallpaper
It’s a dramatic look, but how do you avoid the dreaded clash and really pull it off?
When there’s a bold backdrop to compete with, the larger your artwork, the more attention it’s guaranteed. Remember that this is a visually striking style to strive for, so to ensure that your art is an arresting interlude in your room you should think big. It’s also important to try to create a connection between your artwork and the wallpaper by ensuring that they have a colour or motif that is the same. Similar colours and patterns feature within this work and the wallpaper behind it, while the white mount and frame helps to create a distance between the two. As a rule of thumb, any framed work smaller than around 30cm x 45cm is at risk of being overlooked.
Using a more understated wallpaper as a backdrop will allow for the hanging of a more impactful, framed artwork. This breakfast bar area with a subtle, patterned wallpaper feature provides the perfect placement for a favourite work. Try hanging one striking piece with a characterful frame to draw attention, or even a few works vertically stacked to fill the space. When hanging works in the kitchen, always be wary of potential damage from water or heat.
Paler or more subtle wallpaper motifs and colours will allow you to reveal your true personality and taste through the artwork you display. Try subtly echoing colours in your chosen piece throughout the furnishings across the room. Here, green bar stools highlight the earthy tones of this piece, while bringing a more modern feel to the space.
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A backdrop of wallpaper doesn’t exactly scream ‘ideal location’ for a busy collection of artworks, but it can work to dramatic effect as long as you maintain consistency in scale, framing and colour palette. Coloured wallpapers lend themselves perfectly to the hanging of striking monochrome works that will complement the colour behind without creating competition. This stylish gallery is brilliant not only for its dramatic appeal, but for the way it has made use of the void above a stairwell. Smaller works definitely can stand up to a large expanse of pattern, be it part of a procession of frames up a wallpapered stairwell, like here, or a salon-style gallery on a feature wall.
More: An Insider’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Gallery Wall
Repeated wallpaper patterns, especially those that are vertical in nature, will draw attention to the height of the space. You should always consider this when deciding at what height to hang your artwork. This lengthy piece is hung in a central position to draw the eye away from the ceiling and towards the beautiful living space instead. Always take the dimensions of your artwork into consideration before committing to a placement and drilling holes that will damage your wallpaper. If you’re hanging a series of works, make sure they are all hung at the same height by using a spirit level.
Hanging works with plenty of negative space, or creating it by employing a wide mount or large frame, will set your work apart from the wallpaper behind. This is especially useful when working with a particularly busy or colourful wallpaper backdrop that could easily monopolise a viewer’s attention. This minimal work is equally as striking as the busy, patterned wallpaper it sits on, and the warm orangey-yellow accents in the room lift its subject. Always bare in mind that busy, abstract works will prove more of a challenge to pair with wallpaper.
As just mentioned, by framing a piece of art with a spacious white mount, you will ‘separate’ the art itself from the wallpaper behind it, giving it room to breathe and allowing you to see and study it without distraction. This is particularly useful for artworks that have the potential to jar with your feature wall, whether this is due to a similar motif, or a totally different colour palette. The use of a white box frame extends this mount further and helps to add impact to a particularly petite piece.
Wallpaper is often used to adorn a feature wall, rather than blanketing an entire room. When this is done, the wallpaper acts almost as art itself. In many cases, it also acts as backdrop for the room’s main feature, be it a bed or a dining table. Consider placing your chosen artwork on an adjacent wall as a way of dragging attention past the limits of the feature wall. Smaller pieces make especially intriguing additions, adding minute details to a high-impact space.
As mentioned earlier, there is always the concern that hanging art atop wallpaper will create permanent damage, which is why it is paramount to be entirely happy with your artwork choice and where you are hanging it before you commit. And it isn’t only the nail hole you have to worry about: covering the ends of any wires or attachments on the frame with cloth tape will further rescue your wallpaper from any potential damage. The perfect way to avoid any of this fallout is to prop your artworks instead. This will create a cool and casual look, while allowing you the opportunity to refresh and change your artworks as and when you please.
Don’t forget that wallpaper designs can be incredibly intricate and unique, many having been designed by artists and illustrators from across the globe. This bold map wallpaper features illustrations by Icelandic artist Kristjana Williams, who has a whole range of intricate designs for wallpaper on offer, as well as limited-edition prints to enliven your space. There is something to be said for letting your feature wallpaper speak for itself. If there is a particular artist or illustrator you’re taken with, it’s often worth checking to see if custom wallpaper is something they already create or are open to commissions for. When choosing a bespoke wallpaper ensure that the colours and motifs won’t clash with your existing furnishings.
Which is your favourite wallpaper/artwork combination here? Let us know in the Comments.