Off-Center Art Hits the Mark for Energizing Design

Like many traditionalists, I gravitate toward lace. For a long time, my living room sideboard had one framed black and white photograph hanging on it, dead centre. The scale of this photograph was too small because of its place, and every time I walked past it puzzled over how to fill from the walls on each side. Sconces? Twin mirrors? Framed postcards? I had been stuck.

Then, in the midst of a little recreational furniture rearranging, I had a brainstorm. I left the image at which it had been pushed the sideboard a foot into the left and plopped a stray table lamp at the bare end. What a difference! Even without fine-tuning, the composition — and the area — gained immediate energy and tension. And the easy fix reminds me of a simple principle that I tend to overlook: Occasionally artwork looks better off centre.

Hanging art is such a complex topic that authors have spent pages and pages describing it. But one of those principles is to think about a bit’s relationship to its environment, not only the immediate area in which it will hang. As in my situation, that may signify mounting it into the left or right of a piece of furniture, or within a strange patch of wall space that cries out to be put to use. Does this invigorate a space, but in addition, it engages the eye and keeps the gaze moving.

Have a peek at how off-kilter art enlivens these distances. Have you taken this strategy in your house? Share a photograph in the Comments section.

I would not have thought to hang this piece in its spot to the right of this bed, and yet when I look at the space, I can not envision it anywhere else. Its positioning bridges the gap between the headboard and draperies and lends a needed bit of height.

Jamie Laubhan-Oliver

This is an ideal illustration of the connection between the other components in a space. With the powerful black wall and console sculpture, the composition needed a little negative space to keep from studying as too thick. Yet one painting or photo centered over the table could have looked lost. The solution? A group of many works organized in a manner that creates fluidity and leaves breathing space, but still holds its own.

Elizabeth Reich

Can you imagine a teeny-tiny piece of art hung over the console in this space? Neither can I. The oversize image that simplifies the gallery wall balances the small scale of this furniture, along with the staggered positioning leads the eye across the surface.

Natural Balance Home Builders

Similarly, this petite console and chairs would feel too shy against a big, blank stretch of wall. Off-center art swallows a few of this bare space and joins the furniture with the flat window near the ceiling.

Glenn Gissler Design

On its own, each of the works over the mantel are too small to fill that piece of wall. The solution? Elevate one, then prop another to create a feeling of movement and even out the visual weight.

Maria Killam

In this event a grouping of vases offsets a painting that has been shifted to the left. The positioning plays the energy up of this glowing orange fireplace and keeps the structure from feeling static.

Glenn Gissler Design

These homeowners could have mounted the bigger pieces on both sides of the bigger one and called it a day. But switching up the order tilts the balance of this space and provides a quirkier sensibility.

Kashmere Interiors and Draperies

If you have an architectural component that needs attention, consider hanging art where it won’t compete. This quartet of images contrasts with an asymmetrical fireplace as opposed to the mantel.

Kailey J. Flynn Photography

In an eclectic space where nothing fits, would you expect to discover a piece of art mounted precisely over the midst of a chest? Certainly not. Scooting it only a smidge to the left yields a satisfying graduated-height effect. This is much like what I did in my living space — though my lamp is nowhere near as cool as that lava version.

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