By Tatiana Beckham 

          An important step in the decorating process that makes a house a welcoming home is the choice and placement of art and accessories. This is not a new idea. Enter the caves at Lascaux in France, for example, and you will see how paintings as old as 20,000 years elevate a crude cave with dirt floors and rough stone walls into a spiritual and enchanting space. 

          In your own decorating project, after the walls in your home are painted, the floors are polished and the furniture is placed to the best advantage, perhaps something feels not quite right about the room. The space still may seem anonymous, generic and cold. Here is where art and accessories will take the room to a completely different height and make it sing. These two elements create a mood, and endow the space with personality. They bring together everything else in the room to create a finished and pleasing ensemble. Art and accessories also tell the individual story of your experience, interests, travels, books read and people and places that are important to you. These things speak volumes about the who and why of that room. 

          When creating that special space with art and accessories, it is important to consider the relationship among all the elements in the room.  Consider the architecture and furniture because art should not just hang on a wall, unrelated to anything else. This is after all a home, not a museum. For our purposes here, let’s define “art” as anything that you choose to hang on your walls. 

          Not every wall needs a picture or grouping, so resist the urge to cover every surface. The purpose of incorporating art into your home is not to overwhelm but to enhance all the other items in the room and knowing when enough is enough. You do not need to show all your art pieces and accessories at once. If you have a large collection, you can always rotate your possessions. After all, you don’t wear all your jewelry at once.          

          Step back and take a good look at the space before putting a single nail in the wall, because the artwork that you are about to hang should be connected to and integrated with everything else in your home. For example, don’t place a tiny framed picture over a massive sofa. Plan your arrangement so that the art covers at least three-fourths of the wall space over the furniture item in question and make sure that it is not wider than the furniture. That way, both the artwork and the furniture share a symbiotic relationship and highlight each other. 

          Although there aren’t any rules etched in stone when it comes to arranging art and accessories, common sense dictates that a large, oversized piece of art requires a wall large enough not only to hold the art, but to surround it with enough space to let it ‘breathe.” Another helpful tip to hanging your art is to cut out the exact size of your picture on construction paper and place the construction paper on the wall to give you an idea of comparative sizes. Tack the paper on the wall with painter’s tape. It is easier to move paper than trying to position and visualize a heavy painting on the wall. 

          When hanging a grouping of art together, lay it out on the floor first to decide the overall size and shape of the arrangement. Or again, cut out on construction paper all the shapes and sizes of the pictures and tape the paper to the wall. This prevents mistakes such as putting too many unnecessary holes in the wall. 

          Arranging art and accessories in a room is like putting together an interesting puzzle. It is a form of artistry that requires some practice through adding and subtracting, trial and error, balance and proportion, resulting in a perfect arrangement. The end result can be so much fun and so satisfying. 

Tatiana Beckham and her partner Jean Phillips are interior designers, home stagers and e-decorators. They can be reached at Staging to Sell (410 271-1261), or at [email protected] or visit their website at

Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.