Friday, June 17, 2011

Using Art & Mirrors In Your Decor

Since you all know that I love to create and change table top vignettes, I am always surprised when someone visits my home the thing they comment on the most is the artwork and mirrors.  I am definitely not an expert on art, but I do study magazines and designers books to try and learn the best way to display what I have to achieve the most appealing arrangements to complement my furniture and give the room a balanced look.

Now I have to admit this 4ft x 8ft mirror is a little daunting.  I purchased it for my last home that had two story or vaulted ceilings and so it looked very small there.  This house has 9ft 4in ceilings, (I know a strange size) it is also a very small room. If I had purchased the mirror for this home, I would buy one a bit smaller, but I would still buy one large enough to dominate the wall area above the sofa. The mirror makes the room look twice as large as it actually is and also helps to emphasise the height.  I've discovered that really large art can work really well in a small home and definitely creates an impact.

I like to use other art in this same room, but it needs to be a little more understated.  This picture hung on the corner wall is showy enough, but it doesn't compete in any way with the huge size of the mirror, it just fills the corner.

I love to use family photos or small art as table top accessories, and pretty frames and easels makes them important.

The dining area of the room also has some really huge art.  The plates and sconces are neutral so the total spotlight is on the art.  This piece is 31/2 ft. x 41/2 ft.  Since you see both the mirror and the painting at the same time, the painting needed to be large enough to balance the size of the mirror visually.  A small painting here would be totally off scale.  I think the extra tall candlesticks help to balance the size, and the wall has impact without being cluttered.

The buffet has another piece of art displayed on an easel as part of the vignette.

The corner wall in the dining room also has 2 small pictures that I just placed there.  The frames and prints tie in well to the gallery wall in the hall, so it all goes together.

I have several antique clocks that I inherited from my mom.  Instead of filling the whole wall up with them, I decided to use just a few and hang some art for interest.    This makes the wall much nicer to look at and not cluttered with too many clocks.

I decided to use this round mirror in the familyroom.  Again it is a rather large piece measuring 45 in. wide with a rather substantial frame.  I think it also helps to open up the long narrow size of the room.  I put a wall pocket on one side and then used a corbel on the other side.  I deliberately kept this space simple since there is an entertainment center with bookcases across from it that demands a lot of attention. 

 Here you can see the size of the frame.  It is substantial enough to command attention as the focal point on the wall.  A smaller framed piece would not have the same impact.

I think we all know the value of using pictures on bookshelves.  Just hunt for pretty frames and you can download prints for free off the internet. 

The adjoining breakfast area wall is quite busy with this collage.  However, you don't see the bookcase area and this wall at the same time.  You just see the sofa area and this area, so they don't fight or make you feel like every wall is weighed down with "stuff".

 Even when you're doing a collage wall, keep it contained  and leave some breathing room around it.

 I also like to use art in unexpected places in the kitchen.  This little rooster print I got off the internet and the frame came from GW.  It just helps to tie vignettes together and doesn't take up any counter space.

 On the other side of the kitchen I have another piece hanging on the wall under the cabinets.  This is a cross stitch piece I did about 30 yrs. ago.  It's always hung in my kitchen somewhere ever since.

Since we all love to put things on the tops of our cabinets, we have some empty wall space like above the pantry door.  I love to use it.

 This is another needlework piece I did 30 yrs. ago.  It helps the eye travel from the tops of the cabinet around the room to the next set of cabinets.

The main thing I always try to keep in mind is to make all of the art and mirrors a part of the furniture arrangement.  Nothing hung too high or too low.  The biggest mistake I see made is art hung so high it is floating on the wall and has no connection to the furniture underneath it.    Also, use art that is big enough for the space, or else group several pieces together.  One lone small picture hung way too high above the furniture is not appealing and will always make the room look off.  Most designers agree that art or mirrors should be hung no more than 6 to 8 inches above the furniture.  There are exceptions, however, keep it low.

I hope this helps you with placing all of your favorite art in just the right places and try some of those huge pieces.  You may find that you like it.


  1. Hi Marty... its simply interesting to read about decor ideas ... very good post with this regard... love your frames and all your vintage ...

  2. Fabulous tips Marty - and very timely for me as I'm trying to switch things up around here. Thanks so much! As always, I've enjoyed seeing the pix of your lovely home.

  3. Marty, This is a very well written post with great advice and wonderful examples of how you applied the principles in your own home. Very good Miss Marty!!!xo Kathysue

  4. Everything looks beautiful! I also love mirrors as part of the wall 'art' in my home. Unfortunately I lost my antique mirror when it fell from our wall in a little CA tremor. I was sad. You have made me realize I need much fancier frames for my grandson's photos! That will be a fun excursion!

    Warm wishes,

  5. Great tips Marty. You really do a beautiful job of arranging your artwork and vignettes. Love the small pictures in the vignettes.
    Thanks again,

  6. Marty,
    Excellent advise! Now when can you grab the next flight to the Prairie and help me with my hallway??? Last year while preparing for a dinner party, the galley shelf in the hallway came crashing down bringing the other two shelves with it and all three of them landed on my toes! Since then, I have hung only three photos of our son and daughter~in~laws wedding there. I am craving a family gallery of photos. "Mr. Ed" doesn't want a ton of holes in the wall (thus the galley shelves nine years ago)! You, once again, have been my inspiration. Perhaps I'll be brave enough to begin my gallery wall soon! I adore how you've showcased your clocks with artwork.

  7. Great post Marty! I know you are the queen of Goodwill silver plated pieces, what advice can you give me for cleaning them? If I get them clean I am having a giveaway, you'll want to check it out.

  8. Hi Marty, I love your artwork and your gift for decor. Girl, I really think you should open your home on a home tour-it is so beautiful but I love how it reflects you. I especially love the dog painting and of course the other animals paintings as well.
    hugs today, Noreen

  9. It's always a pleasure to visit your beautiful home.

  10. You do things very well -- and mirrors are very important and especialy at night when they reflect lamplight!

    Love all of your art especially the free ones!

  11. I like the large picture of the girl sewing!

  12. Marty your home is beautiful! I love all your art work. The painting with the dogs is so adorable! You have such a great eye for decorating!

  13. Thanks for the tip. I LOVE the view of your living room with the table to the right. Looks like a magazine. :)


  14. I love the large round mirror.

  15. This post could be a magazine article on how to arrange artwork...very interesting and I picked up on a lot! Thanks, Marty!


  16. Beautiful as always Marty! I love the vignette you created on your buffet it looks beautiful. My mom has the same picture as the one you have hanging in your hallway. A friend of her's brought it back from Ireland and she had it framed. Enjoy your weekend, Martina

  17. You have the same eye for walls that you do for tables, Marty. My favorite piece of all was the "Give Us this day..." crosstich, but I really liked it all.

    And I could use a mirror that size here. I have some large spaces that need filling.

  18. Thanks Marty, this is so well written and informative. Your home is beautifully decorated.

  19. Excellent advise (as usual). We lived for a couple of years in a small apartment. We hung our large paintings on the walls and whenever one of the other tenants visited they thought our apartment was larger than theirs, even though they were the same size. Our art was sized to match our furniture, theirs (when they had any) was small because they thought that it would fit in a small apartment better.

    Art, as well as mirrors, opens an area up where a blank wall closes it in.

  20. Every single time you show the inside of your home I am struck by how lovely and carefully done it is. Just beautiful! Just not something I can achieve..but HOW I would love to. When I want perfection I hop over here to see you!

  21. Great tips, Marty! Your home shows like those in magazines...Christine

  22. You have a great eye for scale, which is so important. Going large offers a big welcoming impact.

  23. Great tips, Marty. Love the artwork and mirrors. I love the way they reflect and cast the light around a room, and actually makes the room appear larger!


  24. Great post Marty! I am always wanting to hang things higher as I am so tall!

  25. You sure have a delightful and very tasteful home :)

  26. Hi Marty!
    You are having a great creative mind. beautiful frames enhance the beauty of house..
    Write My Essay

  27. O'Marty, as always I enjoy my visit to your beautiful home! Great tips and thanks for sharing.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

  28. That mirror over your sofa makes me swoon every time I see it.

  29. Morning Marty,
    You do such a great job accessorizing your home, it is so warm and homey
    and beautiful.
    You are so right about the Artwork and picture hanging. I used to be a displayer for Home Interiors and Gifts years ago, and I would go into peoples home and they would have beautiful things but have them hung way too high. I remember one young lady I worked with that loved the safari look and she was very tall, and she told me that they are suppose to be at eye level,
    well, her eye level was certainly not most people's eye level. We were always told furniture and artwork should all look like one unit. So you are so right about the 6-8 inches. Your sofa, end tables and artwork should all look
    like one picture when you stand back and look at it, with no big gaps anywhere, if that makes sense.

    Thanks for sharing all your lovely designs with us, all very pretty,
    and very interesting and hung correctly!! Good work!!

    Blessings, Nellie

  30. I always enjoy seeing your wonderful prints!

  31. You have the most amazing eye for decorating. Nothing is over done. Each space is just right.
    I love your yellow crackled pig. I brought home a duck in the same crackled color and we named him Rodney...I know...we are weird.
    I am trying to visit every one of my blog followers. Some I am in contact with all the time but others have been MIA and we have lost touch. I want all of my blog buddies to know that I appreciate them.