Beautiful Art That Keeps On Giving…

by Max

This week I helped a client hang her own artwork.

Her South American-inspired masks, pulled out of storage and dusted, really livened up the house. 

She also has some amazing Indigenous dot-paintings, Greek iconography, African stone masks and an Ikea clock!

It took a day (there was window-cleaning, hole-patching and painting too). But at the end of it her home looked beautiful, vibrant and interesting. That’s what it’s all about right?

Hanging your own artwork can really ‘make your home’, imbuing it with a unique, personalised sense of colour and style.

And beautiful art - once hung - keeps on giving… exhilarating you and your guests. For eva.

We all (well, nearly all) have an inbuilt sense of style and order, a preference for things to ‘work’ visually. Philosophers call this aesthetics. And renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow added a whole new tier to his Hierarchy of Needs, to account for our desire for beautiful things.

Our aesthetic sense is pretty important.

Why do people create gardens? Not just because they want to give life to plants. It’s about beauty, a particular sort of beauty we call gardening (or landscaping, garden design, topiary, or Bonsai).

And take the colour of your car. Why is blue more important than red, yellow, or green? It’s an aesthetic decision, often tacit (unspoken, unconscious), made at the point of sale. It’s based on your concept of self and how you want to project this to others. Deep down, for you, a blue car means something

Marketers know this well.

As we spend a third of our lives at home, it’s important to populate it with objects we find interesting and stimulating. Here are a few tips on how to transform your home from an empty shell into something you’ll look forward to come home to...

Get Stuff

You can’t hang objects if you don’t have any. Become a collector. A connoisseur. Develop an eye for things you like. Do research - read magazines, visit op-shops, see what your friends do, and check out Pinterest. Don’t blow your super on anything in particular. Go for quality over quantity. Look for unique but inexpensive items that compliment your home and style.

And you don’t have to have a fixed ‘theme’ either. Eclectic is good. You can pull things from different parts of the world, time-periods and styles…

Don’t ignore the possibility of making something yourself. Do a WEA course. Be crafty (in both senses of the word) and make wonderful, unique things to create visual interest:

  • • frame an exotic postcard
  • • make a picture from chocolate foil
  • • find unusual items at the flea-market
  • • recondition an old canvas


Once you’ve found an artwork or group of objects, you need to decide where they're going to go in your home.

How to Hang Paintings and Pictures

  1. Use the wall to frame your artwork.

Strong colours, bold shapes and large sizes need a prominent position to showcase. Choose a wall that has lots of frame (wall-space) around it. A spot you see as you enter. Don’t clump a large picture on a small wall – it won’t look right.

Cluster small items in groups of two or three to make up the space on larger walls. Clustering makes interesting visual shapes that are more powerful than objects hung on their own.

Pay attention to the shape of the artwork and the wall it’s going to hang on. Echo the shape of an artwork by placing it on a similar-shaped wall. For example a portrait-shaped picture (taller than it is wide) will look better on a wall that is the same shape.

Likewise a landscape-shaped picture will do well on a landscape-shaped wall.

  1. Match architectural features.

Use the same concept (visual echoing) to take account of nearby architectural features. Make the top of a painting match the height of a window-frame or pelmet on an adjacent wall. Angle a group of small objects to match the angle of the range hood in the kitchen, etc.

Look for these shapes and lines and use them. Your artworks will then tell a story, rather than appear isolated…

  1. Colour and tone.

Most walls in your home will be neutral (without strong colour). So it’s easy to select stunning artworks that sing when placed on them.

Choose a favourite, signature colour within the artwork that matches other items in the room. At the very least, artwork colours should complement your walls and furniture…

Contrast is good: a dark object on a light background; a warm-coloured object on a cool background.

  1. Wall anchors and how to hang.

Hold your artwork up to the wall – it’s easier if you get a friend to help. Make sure it’s the right height, and centered (use a tape-measure). Move it around until it looks good, but don’t scratch the wall.

Once you’ve got the correct height and left/right orientation, make a light pencil mark top dead-centre of the painting. Measure down from the top to where the string or hole is, and transfer this measurement to the wall. This is where your fixture goes in.

Plasterboard walls are the easiest to anchor to. (You can tell if a wall is plasterboard by pushing a pin into it – if it goes in easily, it’s plasterboard).

I find the plastic ‘wall mate’ fixtures the easiest to use. Secure too. Much easier than say, toggle-screws. But some prefer to use nails.

Make a small hole, and use a screwdriver to insert the wall mate. Then put the screw in.

Make sure there’s not a stud (vertical wooden beam) behind the plasterboard. (If there is, dispense with the wall mate and just use the screw, but pre-drill first). Observe the weight restrictions of the object your hanging. (The wall mate packaging will tell you this).


Consider that there may be services (gas, water, electricity) behind the wall. So don’t go drilling holes willy-nilly or screwing super-long screws in.

If you’re unsure or not confident inserting wall-anchors, please consult a trade professional like a licensed handyman, builder or electrician.

We can nip out and hang a picture for you.

I like to use a pan- or truss-head screw, so the wire or string won’t  fall off. About 32 - 40mm is long enough for most lightweight objects. Use a cordless drill or screw driver to insert the screw, leaving about 5 – 8mm proud, and then hang your artwork!

If wind un-levels your artwork, use a blob of Blu Tack behind a lower corner to stop it swinging.

Clay masks, or similar, might need two or more wall mates and screws with small heads. Paint the heads black after hanging so they’re invisible. This way, your objects will appear suspended on the wall.

There are lots of different fixture types for wall-anchoring. Familiarise yourself with these at the local hardware. And practice on scrap to get familiar. Read the packaging, follow the guidelines and seek advice if you encounter difficulty.

With elbow grease and inspiration, you can fill your home with beautiful objects that keep on giving…

Max Aberdeen is a trained artist, furniture-maker and licensed handyman.

Need help around the home with picture-hanging or shelving? Call Max now on 1300 349 424