In last month’s article, Bring On the Beauty: Art Collecting 101, we established a few basics…

  • 1) A home without art is incomplete – therefore, art is essential! 
  • 2) Beginning an art collection can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • 3) Building an art collection is a deeply personal endeavor.
  • 4) Your art collection will evolve with time and experience. 
  • 5) You will never be completely finished with your art collection. And that’s ok! 

In this month’s follow-up article, we wanted to talk to you about what to do with your art collection or mounted prints once you’re ready to display it. Fortunately, you do not need to be an art aficionado to display artwork in your home. We’ve scoured the web – and interviewed some of McCoy Homes’ very own interior designers – to provide some helpful tips for displaying art in your home.  Read on for our easy to follow how-to guide!

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens – How to Arrange Art


Color is King + The Subject Matters

Art is evocative – in the most literal sense of the word. A piece of artwork will evoke an emotional response from the human experiencing it, even if that human isn’t entirely aware of the response. Subtly applied color can calm, where as bold color blocking can have a galvanizing effect.  So, to set the mood in a space using artwork, you first have to decide what mood you want to set. You’ll want to set different moods in different spaces; the kitchen and the laundry room will have a different mood than the dining room and the living room; you’ll likely want a formal study to feel different from a children’s homework zone, and so on.

For this exercise let’s use art to set the mood in the kitchen – a working space.

If your kitchen – like mine – is the heart of your home, then it is the place where most of the hustle lives. There’s a lot of activity in my kitchen, we cook food, assemble plates, brew coffee, sip coffee, make lists and plan our day in the kitchen.  Our art choices are reflected in this! I wanted our art to have a grounding effect – so I chose pieces with familiar subject matter and earthier hues. But I didn’t want the space to feel slow or formal, so I chose art with lighter hues. Here are the pieces that I chose…


Scale is Critical.

Pretty much everyone will agree: the wall above a sofa or a grouping of chairs looks sad and naked without some sort of artwork! Pretty much everyone will also agree: selecting and displaying artwork for the blank wall above a sofa can be a real mind-bender! How big should it be? How high should I hang it? Should it be centered? To make matters worse, there are no clear cut answers to those questions – they will change depending on a number of variables: what are the dimensions of the wall? What are the dimensions of your sofa? How is the rest of the room used? 
We can’t answer those questions for you. But we can tell you how to answer them yourself!

On a piece of graph paper, use basic shapes to represent the elements you’re working with: the wall, the sofa, end tables and any other large elements that might be in the space. Using a separate piece of graph paper, cut out a piece representing the art work (or pieces of artwork) you want to hang on the wall. The key to making this exercise successful, is drawing your room and your art pieces to scale. For our example we drew our room at 1:2 scale – which means 1’-0” = 2 blocks on the graph paper. 

Once you have accounted for all of the pieces and parts of your room, take the cut-out shapes which represent your art pieces, and lay them on top of the drawing of your room. Try several different arrangements. Choose the arrangement which seems to provide the best sense of balance to your space.


Plan + Prep AND Prep + Plan

Now that you have an idea as to how to plan for the scale of your artwork, learning to plan for the arrangement of a grouping or college will be easy-peasy. (???) As with planning for the scale of your sofa art, to plan for an art collage or grouping, you’ll want to begin with a roughly scaled sketch of your wall. Don’t worry about perfecting your drawing. Just focus on blocking out the major elements in the space. But make sure that you’re keeping the scale consistent. 

Once you have your space blocked out on a piece of graph paper, block out each frame or piece of art you want to include in your grouping and cut them out carefully. Play with the arrangement of the pieces, sure. But also play with the spacing and the over all shape of the grouping. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a box. Perhaps your grouping wants to take a more amorphous shape? That would be fine. Just work to create a sense of balance.

“Finding balance – a lot like sparking joy – is one of those things that you sort of have to experience. If you get too hung up on technicalities, weights and measures, then your arrangement could feel forced. To get it right, you really just have to play with it until it makes sense.” – Jillian Hendricks, Lead Interior Designerat McCoy Homes

Photo: Alaina Kaczmarski’s Lincoln Park Apartment


Don’t forget your Books + Baubles 

When we think of displaying art, we often think of large framed works or cleverly hung gallery frames. But, not all art is framed and not all art lives on a wall! Color, subject matter, scale and arrangement are, however, still critical components of a proper grouping! 

You’ll likely find that scale and proportion are most critical when displaying a single piece of three dimensional art; too small for a space and the art looks insignificant, too large and it is ostentatious.

Suppose you’re arranging smaller objects and you don’t intend for them to stand alone. Designers often default to THE RULE OF THREES when planning the arrangement of such objects. Think: SMALL, MEDIUM and LARGE. 

Photo: Schneiderman’s Furniture | How to Style a Shelf

The arrangement of the objects can be loose and can change over time, but their scale – in relation to the space they occupy and in relation to one another – will want to remain consistent.

Note: Can you arrange things in fours or fives? Can a grouping’s objects be the same size? Absolutely! The Rule of Three is just a simple tool that seems to work every time. 



It’s YOUR home and it’s YOUR art. If you want to do something a little “out of the box” you should. 


While the ability to edit oneself and one’s collection is – of course – critical, the majority of our clients don’t have trouble pairing back. Their issue, especially in the beginning, is that they have trouble filling a space. So, to them we say, keep collecting! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article! And maybe, found it helpful? 

If, while planning you’re planning your art displays, you find yourself looking around and thinking, “This has been a great home. But maybe we’ve out grown it?” Or maybe you’ve thought, “The kids are away at school. And this might just be too much space?” Give McCoy Homes a call! Our team designs and builds quality, custom homes for families in various stages of life. And… our interior designers can even help build your art collection into the design of your new home!