Off-Center Art Hits the Mark for Energizing Design

Stifling a yawn over symmetry? Shift your art arrangements for design drama that's anything but middling
Like most traditionalists, I gravitate toward symmetry. For a long time, my living room sideboard had a single framed black and white photo hanging over it, dead center. The scale of the photo was too small for its location, and every time I walked past it I puzzled over how to fill in the walls on either side. Sconces? Twin mirrors? Framed postcards? I was stuck.

Then, in the midst of a little recreational furniture rearranging, I had a brainstorm. I left the picture where it was but pushed the sideboard a foot to the left and plopped a stray table lamp at the bare end. What a difference! Even without fine-tuning, the composition — and the room — gained instant energy and tension. And the simple fix reminded me of a basic principle that I tend to forget: Sometimes artwork looks better off center. 

Hanging art is such a complex subject that writers have spent pages and pages explaining it. But one of the fundamentals is to consider a piece's relationship to its surroundings, not just the immediate area where it will hang. As in my case, that may mean mounting it to the left or right of a piece of furniture, or in an odd patch of wall space that cries out to be put to use. Not only does this invigorate a space, but it also engages the eye and keeps the gaze moving. 

Take a look at how off-kilter art enlivens these spaces. Have you taken this approach in your home? Share a photo in the Comments section.

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