My Design Ode to the 2012 Summer Olympics

Pencil Drawings of Bath & Stonehenge

Twelve years ago I started off a 5-week holiday in London, toured around the UK, and then enjoyed some of the great cities that Europe has to offer. When I holiday I like to buy at least one piece of art to remember the trip by, and on this journey I opted for a few pencil drawings.

The two large ones are from the City of Bath, and the small one is of Stonehenge.

Pencil Drawings of Bath & Stonehenge

I love these pieces, and have enjoyed them since the day my Dad matted and framed them for me. That is until this home we moved into last summer. You see, I’ve had a project for a TV stand brewing since about this time last year. I know, right. Who leaves a project for a year? You can catch my teaser post about it here.

Anyway, I always thought the space behind the TV stand (upon completion, of course!) is where these prints would go. You know, something like this.

With the TV stand sitting out in front, I thought they would be a good fit for this spot, both in their look and scale. And so they’ve remained unhung just waiting for the stand to be done! I’ll let you in on a little secret… the TV stand was finished 3 days ago, which is why you see the chaos of cables in this photo. We were in the middle of switching stands over, but I’ll be posting that reveal a little later.

To cut to the chase, my well-laid plan for the prints was a FAIL! And I didn’t have to hang them to find out. What I did first was make a template for each print out of newspaper, and then gave the placement a test-run. I got this tip from Young House Love way back when, and I’m so glad I did! I seriously recommend this step if you’re trying to decide on art placement before you bang the nail in!

When I knew this spot was a definite miss, I had to go to my option B location.

And test it out with my trusty templates…

Tip to hang multiple pieces of art

With the templates I could see this spot was best with just the two larger prints. With three, the top piece would fight for attention with the trim above the window… and that would just create visual pain for anyone looking that way! I tried the templates lower, but the lamp started to fight with the frame of the bottom print…

It’s hard to see, but the top print is slightly narrower than the bottom one, so getting these two pieces hung just right took a lot of measuring, leveling, shifting and re-leveling with the templates.

Template System to hang multiple art pieces

Did I mention how the templates made this part a lot easier?

And, voila!

Pencil Art of Bath UK

All this after living here for a year! And to think I could’ve been enjoying the prints so much sooner 😐

Here’s where I decided to hang the Stonehenge print…

Even though I was only hanging one piece, I still used the template, because I wanted to make sure the size of the print wouldn’t overwhelm this spot.

Template system to hang art work

Ooops! I wasn’t planning to feature my kitchen, and totally didn’t prep the space :-0  Oh well, it’s a day in the life of…!

I think the print looks great in this spot.

Template system to hang art work

Okay, I’ll crop the shot and remove the visual distractions for you! 😉

What do you think? Do you like ‘Stonehenge’ here?

Here’s one more look at the ‘Bath’ prints in location B…

Artwork stacked vertically

When you see them in context, it makes a difference, doesn’t it?

Notice the stacked pieces over the fireplace? The top piece was also hung up today. I wanted to repeat the vertical stacking of artwork… but this particular piece also has special meaning and I thought it was a great place to feature it.

You see, it’s a cross-stitch that my Mom started, but never got to finish. She purchased it in England, and it’s of a little thatched roof cottage. We were on this trip together, and drove through the countryside where cottages with thatched roofs were scattered along the way. It was just so pretty and quaint. When hubs and I got married, my Aunt finished this piece and gave it to us for a wedding gift. My Aunt was on this trip too, and she was the driver… that’s right, wrong side of the road out in the English countryside! Can I just say, I’m so glad she was the one dodging the Hawthorne bushes, driving the M3, and navigating the 4-lane round-a-bouts?!!! 🙂

The point of this post is to share a tip for hanging artwork, but it’s also to demonstrate something I really believe in. And that is the value of the stories behind the pieces in your home. There is a sweet irony in the timing of this post… the 2012 Summer Olympics are taking place in London at this very moment, and these special pieces just happen to be attached to my time in the UK twelve years ago, almost to the day! So as we catch some of the Olympics, and I glance at my prints, I am reminded of a time in my life that feels like just yesterday, and I feel connected… See what I mean about the stories?…


All Photos by Sheila Zeller

DIY Tips for ART-ful Presentation!

Yesterday I walked you through the latest progress in Kaleigh’s room…

And today I’m sharing some of the tips and strategies for how we arrived at the photo arrangement on the feature wall behind her bed.

Once again, here is the ‘before’ photo of the wall space.

And another photo illustrating how we had to shift the bed over to be positioned more effectively on that wall.

The window and the mirror act as frames for the wall space. So for the bed placement to make sense, it needed to be more centered between the two. And the point of the feature wall was to backdrop the bed in the sense of a headboard. So they needed to feel connected.

Once the bed was moved, we were able to get a better feel for how all this might work. We already had the photo frames, and they’re all the same size, but the photos are not! So this was definitely a point to keep in mind.

The bed isn’t perfectly centered because at its foot is a sofa that also had to work with the overall balance of the space.

We measured the rough area of wall space we had to work with, and then started to try different layouts on the floor.

We set the photos on top of the unwrapped frames to figure out what order to put them in. Then we started to play with placement.


When figuring out order placement in groupings, the subject should always be looking toward the center of the group, not away from it. That pulls the eye in rather than away from the grouping as a whole.

Also, balance the weight of each image. Notice the top photograph. It’s the only one in portrait format, but because the subject is a collection of skyscrapers, it would be out of place if it was placed on the bottom or in the centre of this grouping.

Did you notice there are only 6 photos now instead of 7? Kaleigh did not want a symmetrical layout, and in order for this random approach to work using these frames, the 7th photo had to go. We could have teamed up 2 photos in the center and worked out from there, but Kaleigh didn’t want that. If we kept 7 photos, it meant there was always one photo floating too far away from the overall grouping, or there were always two photos too close together compared to the rest.

Once we established the presentation of the grouping, I quickly sketched the layout and took some key measurements.

And then we double-checked the outside dimensions of the arrangement with the wall space so we could determine actual placement on the wall.

The painters tape is a guide for where the bottom of the lowest frame will land. Kaleigh didn’t want the grouping too low because she likes to lean against the wall when she’s sitting in bed.

We also marked the horizontal center.

Next, prepping the frames for the artwork – this is not my favorite part!

I bought two cases of these frames at a closing out sale a few years ago, and some of them were scratched when we went to use them.


I used a black Sharpie to touch up where there were scratches and marks. Great way to quickly camouflage minor imperfections, and pretty tough to see the evidence unless you’re up close and personal to it!

Finally, let the hanging begin!

Notice, we also marked the top of the of the grouping area with painters tape.

I started with the very center piece so I could work my way out from there. Because this presentation is more random and abstract, there is a little more flexibility than with a symmetrical grouping.


If you’re hanging a grouping where the frames must line up on the outside edges, then it’s a good idea to outline your whole area with painter’s tape.

Next I placed the  piece that would sit on the farthest outside edge on the left. I did this because there is less room on the left than the right, so it was critical that this piece follow the plan we drafted up.

After that I hung the piece that would sit at the farthest outside edge on the right.  Now I had all my border reference points including the painters tape.

You will see the very top piece has been left to last.


Notice the level sitting on top of the center photo? This is a very handy tool to have when you’re working with groupings.

So here’s the tip for why I left the very top photo to last.


Do you see the shadows between the frames? Remember to account for the shadows, because they will alter the balance of the overall presentation.

By placing the very top piece last, I was able to shift it slightly left or right, up or down, so it finished off the grouping both in relation to placement of the other frames, but also how the shadows factored in.

Do see what a difference the shadows make?

It’s easier to appreciate the presentation with the neat and tidy ‘After’ shot…

Do you notice how your eye is drawn to the bottom left photograph? That’s because it’s sitting slightly out of the grouping compared to the rest, and because it is highlighted by a shadow that demands your attention. It also has more white in the background, which will always attract your eye.

Do you remember where in the sequence of hanging the photos that the bottom left one was put up?

It was the 5th piece, so 2nd from the last to go up. And it was placed with intention. It was deliberately shifted just enough that it would grab your eye. The intention is to draw your eye down and back into the room, rather than up and to the ceiling.

So that’s another tip for you.


Place your art with intention. Even if that means breaking the rules!

When you have a plan, your presentation will reflect that. So even with random placement, you should always work with a basic plan in mind. In the end go by your gut. You will know your placement is right when it feels right…

And finally…

It’s important with groupings that each piece is hanging straight. I mentioned earlier that a mini level is your best friend for this task. The other tip is to secure the bottom corners of each frame so the frame can’t move.


To see how I ensure my artwork hangs straight, click here.

As for the overall presentation and how we came up with that layout. We factored in the height of the ceiling – it’s a 9′ ceiling. We looked at the thickness of the trim, and the placement of windows and doors. We paid attention to the pieces of furniture in the room. We took all pieces going up on the walls in the room into consideration. And we factored in function – Kaleigh leaning against the wall. And we went from there.

Final TIP:

Always make sure your artwork connects with the furniture around it. So for example, the general rule for artwork over a sofa is approximately 6″-8″ above it, or the width of a hand spread wide open.

But always remember that rules are guidelines. They are there to help you, not to dictate to you. In the end let your room, your pieces and your gut be your guide. Because in the end, presentation is a very personal preference.

Did you find these tips useful? Do you have a tip to share?

It’s about coming home… If you want a remarkable space that tells your story, contact me to see how we can help!

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