For many, the word salon conjures images of posh up-do’s and $100 blowouts. But for Bruce Carey, the Portland restaurateur responsible for 23Hoyt, Saucebox, Bluehour and Clarklewis, salon-style is simply the best way to hang a collection of artwork.
The term actually dates back to the mid 17th-century, when the Parisian art school Ècole des Beaux-Arts began displaying their student’s art in a way that combined both large and small pieces on a wall from floor to ceiling. It then became popular among royalty and eventually commonplace in the Louvre. Today, as designers move away from hanging similarly sized pictures equal distance apart, salon-style is coming back with a vengeance. Here’s how you can achieve the look:
#1 – Decide what to display.
When choosing the artwork for 23Hoyt, Carey decided to split wall space between fine art and vintage objects. He also mixed sculpture with regular framed art, and topped it off with a few vintage plates as well. For added interest, choose an eclectic collection of your own—the sky’s the limit with this step.
#2 – Pick a layout.
Before pulling out the hammer and nails, decide your layout first. You can begin by making a rough sketch like the one shown below. Afterwards, measure the wall space you’ll be working with. Then, use a string to outline the same area on your floor and begin placing the large pieces first, eventually filling the gaps with smaller objects.
Carey suggests separating pieces into columns and thinking of each as an individual unit. Make sure that larger objects are given more negative space around them, so that they receive the attention they deserve. Also, use a variety of frames to add an extra punch.
#3 – Now, to hang.
Time to collect those supplies. You’ll need a level, pencil and tape measure. If you want to keep the space between objects equal, it’s important to measure and mark before punching holes in the wall. For a less uniform look, skip the measuring.
A few extra tips on hanging:
- The bottom of a frame should sit no lower than 6 to 8 inches above a couch or chair. This will keep people from bumping into them.
- Use museum-quality glass to avoid glare in a room with lots of lighting. If that’s too expensive, then put a piece of cork between the top of the frame and the wall.
- In order to keep pieces at eye level, they should be hung approximately 56 to 58 inches from the ground.
So what’s the best part about salon-style? There are no rules. Just make sure nothing is hanging obnoxiously crooked and you’ll be just fine.