Art Display Tips: How to Utilise Negative Space for Gallery-Worthy Walls

You’ve read our advice on how to physically hang your newly bought art, but how do you decide where on the walls to put it? Pinterest boards, Instagram feeds and swish magazines are always flaunting photos of beautiful rooms, from perfectly placed furniture, ingenious storage ideas and of course, art on the walls that has clearly been displayed by a pro. But when it comes to dressing your own home, how is it that something seemingly so simple is surprisingly hard to re-create? It all comes down to negative space.


When talked about in terms of art and design, negative space is generally referring to white or empty space on paper or canvas that is not taken up by a subject. When translated to interiors, this is the empty space in a room, whether on a wall or elsewhere. When dressing a room, interior designers will often focus more on where they would like to keep or arrange the negative space, rather than where to hang art or place furniture and this is the beginnings of creating gallery-worthy walls in your own home.


Regardless of the size of a room negative space, or lack there of it, plays a huge role in creating balance and using the potential of a room to the best of your ability; but there’s more to it than just leaving the walls bare. Here’s some tips on how to do it right:


Don’t Just Fill Gaps


It’s very tempting to give into the feeling that an empty space means that something needs to go there, but this simply isn’t true. To create a room that has very deliberate and effective use of negative space, it’s important to embrace minimalism – to an extent.


This doesn’t mean sitting in an empty house with one stark art installation, but rather, allowing areas that don’t really need filling to just be.


Consider it to be like writing: you might pen a paragraph off the cuff but when you look back over it, you discover that actually, that sentence would work just as well without those extra filler words. Take them out and you’re left with a more pleasing read. The same goes for interiors: embrace the space.

Be Intentional


It’s often the case that the things that look the most simple in fact require the most skill, like the ancient art of tea ceremony in Japan. Using negative space to hang your art in a stylistic manner should not be left down to chance – it should be planned and executed with precision.


Being intentional with where you choose to hang art and where you choose to leave negative space is what makes a room look beautiful rather than sparse. Consider where negative space will enhance or spotlight a piece you are placing and work with that.

Discover Tips on How to Hang Your Art


Use Art to Draw the Eye


Allowing a picture hanging on the wall to enter into negative space ever so slightly, say peeking around a corner for example, can be a wonderful way to create a flow throughout your house by linking the rooms and encouraging the eye to naturally gravitate in the direction you would like it to be pulled to.


This is a great trick to use particularly for smaller houses to give a sense of space where there isn’t much. Try it in your hallway and see how it looks!

Trust Your Instincts


Using negative space to dress a room and make the most of your art should instil feelings of calm and happiness, when done right. For negative space to work you need to keep the room free from clutter, and a good clear out always evokes a sense of relief.


If you’ve attempted to use negative space but it’s just not sitting right with you, go with your gut. It’s not supposed to make you feel uneasy! Sometimes just a slight tweak can make all the difference, so play around until you’re happy.