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Beautify That Blank Wall

Give your walls some personality with carefully assembled arrangements 

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®

Transform your stark white walls into beautiful canvases that display your art collections. White is safe and sometimes we find ourselves lost in that safety. The years go by and the walls just seem to stay white. Whether you just haven’t found time to decorate or you are nervous about picking up that hammer and nails, you can brighten and beautify those white walls with a few simple tips.

These arrangements will also make your home more inviting and warm to potential home buyers. Your arrangements can help those folks visualize what the walls would look like with their collections. Offer them some inspiration and some insight to your own creativity and passion. Here are some ideas about how to decorate your walls:

Lesson One: Think It Through

Carefully determine your arrangement before you start banging holes in the wall. Trace the outline of each frame onto Kraft paper and cut it out. Then tape the outlines to the wall using blue painter's tape.

Move your paper frames around until you arrive at an arrangement you like, then gather your supplies (picture hooks, hammer, level, and tape measure) and start hanging. This same Kraft paper trick also works for tracing and placing mirrors, plates, wall clocks, and sconces.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Lesson Two: Stay in Line

Displaying a collection of pictures requires a careful eye. As a rule, a precise grid gives a graphic, formal look. But that's not the only option. An arrangement that's hung within the confines of a square or rectangle but aligned along only one axis (center, top, or bottom) will also appear orderly -- just a tad more relaxed. Placing a sofa or other piece of furniture under the arrangement will help anchor the artwork.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Lesson Three: Stagger the Look

Sometimes an uneven pattern can be more interesting than a precise lineup. The key to a successful stair-stepped grouping: Vary the spacing between frames. Use your eye to gauge the distance. And because stairways are a high-traffic area, use small pieces of adhesive hook-and-loop tape to hold frame corners to the wall.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Lesson Four: Add an Element of Surprise

Try something unexpected. Here, instead of hanging a single piece of art over the bed, we created a sculptural grouping of plates and varied the shape, size, and design for interest. The plates are in perfect contrast to the headboard's boxy figure, so they attract attention and draw you into the space. The adjacent wall sports framed fabric cuttings. Bottom line: Trust your instincts. If it feels right, it will work.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Lesson Five: There's Safety in Symmetry

When all else fails, go for the grid -- and the grid doesn't have to be a perfect square. Though this notion is a good starting point, centering artwork horizontally and vertically over a prominent architectural element (in this case the mantel) while maintaining even spacing will do the trick. Add interest by mixing sizes, styles, and art mediums.

Make art out of collectibles or photos of favorite items. Here, $1 vintage equestrian book plates from a flea market pair with photos of the jockeys outside the legendary 21 Club in New York City.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Inexpensive Art and Supplies

If you find an inexpensive poster, print, or canvas you like but don't have a spot large enough to hang it or want to give it a new twist, don't be afraid to use its parts. We cut blooms, leaves, and a bird from one large piece, then popped them into two sizes of matted frames from a discount store.

Beautify That Blank Wall

From this print, we cut out
the bird, the leaves below the
bird, and the blue flowers on
the top right.


In our grouping, they nicely offset two larger horizontal pieces. Use the tactic on cast-off posters you relegated to the basement -- frame parts you still love and then hang them in a grid or series.

Beautify That Blank Wall

The three smaller pieces of art
are the framed sections of the
poster seen above.


Material Matters

Mat board can be a plain-color (smooth or textured) or covered in fabric, leather, or other natural materials, such as grass cloth. Mats are used to highlight the personality of the artwork and can either grab attention or fade into the background.

Frames come in a variety of colors and styles, including finishes that mimic precious metals and exotic wood species. When selecting a frame, use the style and setting of the room as a guide.

You'll need a hammer, tape measure, and level. Avoid using nails to hang art, since picture hooks can be sized to hold the weight of a particular piece of art. For lightweight art, try hanging with hook-and-loop tabs. Look for special adhesive discs or spring hangers used to hang plates.

Beautify That Blank Wall

Always use acid-free matting that
helps preserve art and photos.

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