There isn't a right or wrong way to go about it – it's more that a nudge of inspiration may help revitalise, reorganise and revamp a display. So, whether you are looking to spring clean, de-clutter or dust down, here are some fresh ideas to help you achieve aesthetically pleasing displays.
Don't spend a fortune on new art, objets or artefacts – look in your cupboards first! Too often, we stack beautiful plates away for high days and holidays – so hang them, prop them or use them.
Start by cutting out paper templates and taping these to the wall first – this helps you to get an idea of their impact and ultimately achieve a perfect arrangement, before committing to any permanent fixings. Choose solid colours over highly patterned, more traditional collections, and enjoy a contemporary ensemble of mood-boosting hues.
Make the most of an exciting collection. Consider the backdrop or wall covering behind any display – almost as important as the display itself. Walls painted in a deep colour draw attention to an eclectic collection of small images and may balance the strength of colour in a bold curtain treatment. Textural wall coverings or fabric-covered walls do complement fine art, together with the quality of the picture mount and frames that surround it.
The size of an image is often dictated to us by the subject matter. Very large pieces – be they traditional portraits, film posters or even gargantuan mirrors, can be propped on the floor. With more conventionally sized images, do not ask too much of a single piece. Better to group it together with others that share something in common – be that size, media, subject or frame finish. Rather than dotting pictures and photographs about the place, devote one wall to their display, and leave others clear.
For a less formal display, prop smaller images on shelves. This may be in among books, on a floating shelf behind a sofa, or on a contemporary sideboard. Then these displays allow one to get nearer to a picture, and really study it in greater detail – hard to do when hung high on a wall, in behind furniture. Use free-standing artist's easels in much the same way – moving them around the home as screening devices, and interchanging pictures at will.
Think beyond conventional imagery to fabric fragments, antique calligraphy brushes, hat lasts, cotton reels and North African woven baskets. The shape and character of such items will inspire a display solution which in, itself, contributes to the appeal of the installation. When you start to contemplate it, the possibilities are endless – particularly when you extend your attention to 3D artefacts.
Collections of, perhaps, rather unpromising artefacts can still be secured relatively cheaply and will represent real value for money as decorative investments.
Do not overlook household necessity in your quest for display – space for hats, scarves and coats can be attractively achieved. Series of wall hooks ensure that hats stay untangled from coats. An open-fronted boxed shelf may be used to display colourful rolled-up scarves, with a bench below to house pigeon holes for shoes – suddenly you have a practical and aesthetically pleasing storage solution!
Having gone to these decorative lengths, do not forget to light your displays. Punchy overhead lighting with sharp focus oozes theatrical impact, while tabletop spots and flexi floor lights add variety. Picture lights still have their place, but choose discreet models and ones that can be moved to accommodate the positioning and size of an image.
Caroline Palk, BIID member, runs Ashton House Design, C2 Linhay Business Park, Eastern Road, Ashburton TQ13 7UP. Showroom open weekdays 9am-5.30pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm. Telephone 01364 653563 or visit www.ashtonhousedesign.co.uk and follow Caroline on her Room for a View blog.