In all design, you need to consider the visual composition. Yes, you need to think of practicality and function, but the visual arrangement is what draws you in and catches your attention. That’s why designers spend hours trying to arrange bookcases, hang art in just the right spot, or move furniture around in a room. Stand back and think about your arrangement as a piece of art or a visual composition. Is there balance? Is there a focal point? Is there a combination of lights and darks to create some contrast? Is it pleasing to the eye? Looking at your design from this point of view can bring a fresh approach to your project. Often, all you have to do to bring vitality to a room is add something a little unusual, or do something out of the ordinary with your own flair and spirit.
Tips on Creating Compositions at Home
If you want to make a small watercolor or design appear larger, use clear glass around it rather than an opaque mat. This way the object is suspended in air, drawing your attention to its features.
Not all paintings need to be hung on a wall. They look less formal and permanent if you rest them on a horizontal surface. For example, place a small painting on the back of a table. You can even rest several paintings against a wall on the floor. There’s something relaxed about not having everything flat against a wall. Use plate racks or easels to rest small paintings on a ledge or on a table.
Don’t overlook the floor as a potential surface for compositions. Place baskets or a collection of wooden boxes underneath tables. Stack an assortment of boxes against a wall or at the end of a desk. Rest some prints or botanical watercolors on the floor against a wall.
If you have a pleasing composition on one wall that you love to look at, place a mirror directly opposite the favorite composition so the eye can enjoy the echo as well.
The best way to call attention to a composition is to put one live flower in a vase. Our eye is naturally drawn to living things, and a flower never fails to delight.
Don’t be too neat or too rigidly proper; the spirit enjoys loosening up rather than lining up. Often you see a composition that has all the right elements but somehow makes you feel uncomfortable. By placing the objects more dynamically, you make everything look and feel so much better.
If you place a mirror across from a window, the design of the window planes will reflect in the decorative mirror, creating energy and greatly increasing the light.
When hanging paintings on walls, the center of the picture should be at eye level as you enter the room. Table lamps with shades, flower arrangements, and objects bridge the space between the tabletops and the paintings. Use this as a guide, but trust your eye in making subtle changes.
Keep the rule of thirds in mind when you’re hanging art in your home. Too often, what you’ll find is a placemat-sized piece of art hanging dead center of a 12-foot run of a wall, looking lost. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your piece of art is two-thirds the size of your sofa or headboard. That doesn’t mean that you have to rush out and buy a gigantic painting. A series of framed prints – hung salon-style or in a grid – will fill the same space nicely. This same sizing guideline would apply to multiple pieces of art or a gallery wall (i.e. treat them, in terms of scale, like one piece of art and make sure the whole arrangement is at least two-thirds the size of the furnishing its above).