In design, groups of three are always en vogue."The rule of 'threes' in design is based on the observation that odd numbers of objects tend to be more appealing and memorable than an even number of items," explains designer Amy Leferink of Interior Impressions. "This especially applies to anything eye-catching, such as artwork or wall decor, where creating that sense of visual harmony is imperative to a room looking and feeling polished." She adds, "Picture frames hung in odd numbers not only look great, but they tell a story—this is why you so often see the triptych in art history, it is a storied way of displaying art."
Displaying a set of three picture frames is a popular design tactic, but if you're a bit unsure as to how you should hang a trio of pieces in your own home, note that there are many possibilities at play. Read on as designers share their tried and true tips for making three pieces of artwork shine.
Opt for a Stack or Row
Hang a set of three picture frames in either a vertical stack or a horizontal row depending on the size of your wall, says Stephanie Purzycki of The Finish. "Be sure to have three different sizes: a small, medium and a large piece," she adds. Not sure what size frames to use? "A general rule I like to follow is that your artwork should be 50 to 75 percent the width of your furniture to feel proportional to the space," designer Jennifer Hunter explains. Place furniture in a space first, though, and hang artwork as a finishing touch. "To avoid artwork from being hung too low or too high, I recommend arranging your frames at eye-level," she advises. "Start first with the center frame to ensure it is placed properly [in relation to] remaining two side frames."
Hunter prefers a horizontal arrangement when working with three equally sized art pieces. "It creates a clean, contemporary look to a space and helps lead the eye from one end of the artwork to the next," she notes. Hunter adds that a level is a key tool to use to make sure each frame appears uniformed and balanced.
Or Try a Triangular Configuration
Designer Sara Hillery is a fan of this method. "I find this grouping better than a square for three pieces, providing visual diagonals for movement in the room," she says. She recommends opting for a gap between one and a half and three inches between each frame. Laying out pictures on the floor ahead of time can be a useful tactic to get measurements and spacing just right, she adds.
Vary Frame Types
This can result in a more organic look and is an excellent way to combine vintage and new pieces, designer Lisa Kooistra shares. "It's fun to search for a collection of frames and add your own personal artwork to them," Kooistra comments. "You can also mix photography and vintage pieces this way as well."
Play With Proportion and Scale
In the case of one larger frame and two smaller ones, Leferink offers a key suggestion. "Play with the idea of one larger frame juxtaposed against two smaller ones," she advises. "This will create some dynamic tension on the wall."
Try a Picture Ledge
Looking to go a different route? “If your pieces are smaller or the idea of lining up and measuring three pieces is daunting, I suggest a picture ledge, where you can lean three pictures for instant art wall," suggests designer and roomLift co-founder Megan Hersch. This is a particularly ideal setup if you enjoy changing your art pieces around frequently—no need to create new nail holes in the wall every time you find something you would like to display. "I also love the ability to add a couple of smaller pieces here and there as you collect them," Hersch adds, noting that postcards, Polaroid strips, and other small pieces can make for fun additions.
Have a Bit of Fun
There are plenty of ways to get a bit innovative when hanging your frames. "I love making them more interesting by using large mats with smaller pictures," designer Andi Morse says. Some DIYers enjoy painting their picture frame mats for an extra dose of color. Or paint the frame itself—we have tips on how to make a frame shine with a little bit of chalk paint. You could even cover them in wallpaper! And, Morse notes, frames don't have to be custom to shine in a space. You can find excellent frames at your favorite home decor retailers and even at craft stores without breaking the bank.