The Art of Displaying your Pictures

Know the basics of displaying paintings, prints and photos on a wall


How do you accentuate your walls at home? Make it more fun and personal by adding wall accents such as paintings, prints, and photos. How do you display them? There are two ways of grouping together some frames on a wall: they could either be symmetrically aligned or grouped asymmetrically.

Styling by Issa Villar.  Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("Picture Perfect”) in the August 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Option 1: Symmetrical Arrangement

Denoting formality, a symmetrical arrangement works best with frames in even numbers of fours, sixes, eights, etc. They can also be grouped in twos or threes—one on top of another for twos, and side-by-side in a row for threes. Group frames following an invisible grid with equal spacing and remember to keep the spacing in proportion to the size of the frames—the smaller the frames, the smaller the space in between each. Try not to exceed four inches between frames.

When doing a symmetrical arrangement, the frames should be perfectly straight and aligned. Mark the placement of your frames with a pencil, and use a leveling tool or level to make sure you get it straight.

To make a symmetrical arrangement more effective, use similar frames, and display paintings or photos of similar colors, patterns, and subjects. The similarities will unify the arrangement, and make a visual impact when viewed from afar.  

Option 2: Asymmetrical Arrangement

A group of frames in random array is more informal. With this type of arrangement, you have the freedom to display the frames any way you want. This works well if you have a variety of different images in odd numbers, if you have a large number of works to hang, or if your frames are in different sizes, styles, and materials.  

Make a sample layout with kraft paper or newspaper cut to the size of the frames, and tape them to the wall in your desired arrangement with masking tape. This way, you’ll be able to try a few layouts until you are satisfied with an arrangement.

You may use photocopies. With photocopying, you can resize a photo to fit your frame and even play with the brightness and you’ll instantly get that vintage monochromatic effect. It also helps if you’re still undecided on which photos to use because it lets you sample some before getting them reprinted. 


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