Ask A Designer™
Arranging Art on Vaulted Walls
Q.Our new home has some high vaulted ceilings throughout. The shortest ceiling is 10 ft. high. Our major furniture has been purchased, so now we are working on art and accessories. The largest pieces from our old house get lost in here. I know that “real” art would probably be large enough for some of our spaces, but we have a lot of wall to cover. What options are there for manufactured art, especially where we have vaults and 22 ft. ceilings?—SJM
A.You are right, most shops have medium sizes in art to maximize their sales potential. You may be able to place some of your largest pieces in bedrooms and smaller rooms with 10 ft. ceilings. In special places, definitely start fresh. Work with a designer or store that can order the sizes you need. Pieces should be half the size of your body or larger. Take care that the subject matter can be appreciated at the site distance your room will create.
Consider pieces of art that are hand painted but mass produced such as the Elegant Lady Posed in Thought (shown) which is 6 ft. tall and beautiful without a costly frame. A painting with directional interest such as this should be placed so that the figure looks toward an important part of the home (not directly onto seating). The same would be true of a building facade or any image that distinctly directs the eye.
Art helps the flow of the home as much as it creates style. If your tallest rooms look like two stacked stories, art can be in two tiers as well. If there is a drastic slope to the vault, you must deal with the wall as a whole. In Diagram 1, the wall slant is created by a staircase. To the far right is a door, so the art has to be placed to the right of the television. Think of tumbling blocks to create an arrangement like this. Frames and subject matter should be related but not matching.
Notice how the negative space between the art changes. Making any one of the pieces vertical would have made the job even easier. Create a scale model for projects like this using graph paper, with one block equal to two inches. Cut the shapes out and move them on a diagram of the wall until they look pleasing.
Hanging is tricky and should probably be done by a professional. Generally speaking, the more minimalist the decor, the fewer art pieces there should be.
A notable exception to the rule is a new trend in wall decor: repeating circles or squares to fill a wall. This is typically done in modern environments with mirrored pieces. One fabulous trick you can use is to buy two of something and rotate one 90 degrees then pair it with two other items such as in Diagram 2. This approach takes up 4x the wall space and maintains unity even when the two pieces are slightly different in size. Simple stacking and flanking will occupy much wall space as well.
Take care to plan your single image pieces first, then work around them. Alternate framed work, plaques, metal, and mixed media throughout for a rich environment. u
Editor’s Note: We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Questions are answered by Tanna Miller, allied member ASID, a well respected designer who has operated her award winning interior design practice, Trends & Traditions, in Nashville for 18 years. Visit http://www.designnashville.com or call 615/ 601-0552.