To frame or not to frame? How to display artworks in your home

Mia Karlsson says that a practical and contemporary way to display your artworks is to prop them on

Mia Karlsson says that a practical and contemporary way to display your artworks is to prop them on a shelf with other objects - Credit: Archant

Displaying art at home has moved on since the days of picking matching mounts for your watercolours. We unravel the latest trends and find out whether or not to splash out on a pricey frame at all

The thrill of acquiring a new piece of art can sometimes be slightly diminished by the concern of how it should be displayed. Then there is the question of where best it should go in the room, taking into consideration the latest in trends and fashion.

Mia Karlsson a Swedish designer has many years of advising on interiors for London homes, through her shop in Highgate Village.

She explains that as open plan designs continue to dominate, wall art is becoming less popular than it used to be. Instead the trend now is for broad shelves with art objects placed on them. This arrangement is also adaptable, as with no nails or marks left on a wall, it is easy to change things around, or make seasonal adjustments.

According to Mia, framing has also gone through quite a revolution. A mixed look is gaining ground, so that while classic gold and silver are still popular, so are frames that match either the décor or the colour of the walls, often combined within the same scheme.

Andrea Sylvester, who runs her own art gallery in Hampstead, says that with more natural light filtering into homes through large picture windows or extensions, she gets many more requests for non reflective, and UV protective glass, as well as shatter-proof Perspex. Although the glass is slightly more expensive, it does provide much more flexibility as to where a painting can be hung.

Her “Big Picture” people are also interested in the new Velcro hanging systems made by 3M that again do not involve nails or damage to the walls.

Most Read

There is also an increasing demand for rails situated at high levels that are used for displaying a variety of pictures in a line, all hanging from nylon thread.

Directional LED spot lighting is Andrea’s first port of call when highlighting pictures. “LED is marvellous. It lasts for years and has come down in price a lot recently so environmentally speaking I do think it wins every time. It usually fits in with the rest of the room’s décor which is also important,” she says.

As Andrea deals with a number of the best twentieth century artists ranging from Picasso, to Hockney, she sometimes is asked if she can provide the name of a professional picture hanger. This is a new breed of craftsman, that can give advice on where and how to hang pictures in the best possible way.

She recently supplied an Andy Warhol print to a client, with a straightforward brushed steel frame, which she said “looked absolutely gorgeous”, while a Rembrandt etching was sold in a simple double mount. Both of these examples reflect her personal mantra that “a frame should always compliment the picture; never fight it.”

Or, if you feel entirely overwhelmed by options, follow the advice of Sally Vaughan from Go Figurative gallery in Hampstead. As she explains, “framing can be an expensive addition and in some cases, for more contemporary work, clients avoid it altogether and hang the work unframed, especially larger canvases.”