Unexpected Ways to Display Art

There’s absolutely no doubt that art can make or break the way we feel about a space.  It’s often the most personal part of a room, and therefore the most compelling.  We continue to adore gallery walls – you can see the ones in our own homes here and here – but lately we’ve found ourselves especially drawn to art displayed in quirky, unexpected ways.  Here are four ways in which the placement of art is an art unto itself.

1.) The Lowdown

There are a lot of rules out there about the perfect height to hang art, and there’s something intriguing about spaces that are so flagrant in their disregard for those rules.  Paintings hung extra low invite us to investigate.

2.) The Shelfie

We love when art is incorporated into shelf styling, whether it’s hung on the front of a bookcase, in the back of a recessed shelf, or propped amid pottery in a kitchen.

3.) The James Dean Lean

There’s something appealingly impermanent – and perfectly nonchalant – about art that is leaned against a wall rather than hung upon it.  These rooms have mastered the lean – up high, down low, and in a set of three.

4.) Roguish Charm

No place is off limits for displaying art!  Place it over a doorway (or, better yet, on the door), or give a prized piece a place of honor perched upon a chair.


Do you have art displayed in unexpected ways at your house?  We’d love to hear!

11 responses on “Unexpected Ways to Display Art

  1. Arielle | Scotch and Nonsense

    I love low hanging and unexpected art! I’m working on a gallery wall in our library and it’s my dream to have it extend down to the floor. Sadly, with two rambunctious dogs in the house, I don’t think it’s the safest or most practical spot for art. But a girl can dream!

    1. Katie

      Perhaps the earthquake-proof Command Strips recommended by Carol in another comment could withstand your wild beasts? I want your dreams to come true!

  2. Carol Bryner

    It’s always so interesting to me to see how people hang (or lean) their art. There’s definitely an “art” to it. But I do cringe with I go into someone’s house and see paintings or art that is hung too high or low on a bare wall, and it’s all I can do not to just go and rehang it. I love the little narrow painting hung above that kitchen entryway. It’s perfect for that spot.

  3. Carol

    A hint for those of us in earthquake country – 3M Command hooks are perfect behind your casually leaning picture. No one can tell they’re there and you have a little peace of mind!

  4. Nina D

    I was going to mention that Emily Henderson space with the art hanging beneath the window as soon as I read “the lowdown” but then scrolled down to see you using it as your first illustration. (Great minds…) I LOVE that.

    I have quite a few shelfie/james dean lean combos around the house, including in my laundry closet, where I took down all of the bottles of detergent and whatnot from the shelf over the washer and dryer (mainly because I’m too short to reach any of it) and replaced them with some baskets and a large, leaning seascape. It makes doing laundry somewhat less obnoxious and I don’t feel bad if I have to keep the doors open when guests are around.

    Now, that weird guy on the back of th door?? Hope that’s not a guest room.

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