Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Tips for Lighting Your Artwork

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What’s the point of hanging great art in your home if you can’t actually see it? Glare, shadows, and uneven lighting all affect how a picture is viewed.

In designing great spaces, Greg Dufner and Daniel Heighes Wismer, of interior design and architecture firm Dufner Heighes, have become well versed in art and the best ways to light it. Learn their tips to keep your best pieces illuminated.

Photo by Dufner Heighes

Photo by Dufner Heighes

Avoid Direct Light

“When placing art in our clients’ houses we make sure it’s on a wall that’s not getting direct natural light. Indirect light is okay, but avoid direct light at all costs. It can damage everything from flooring and furniture to art.”

Tip: North-facing light is optimal (artists’ studios often advertise this). Or simply choose a wall where daylight is not aiming directly at the surface of the art.

Photo by John Ellis

Photo by John Ellis

Ensure Even Lighting

“Larger pieces look best under recessed or surface-mounted lighting. The idea is to evenly illuminate your art by pulling the light source away. This will prevent shadows and a harsh raking light on your artwork.”

Tip: Use nonglare museum glass rather than regular glass to prevent distracting reflections. Most framers offer this option, which also cuts out UV light.

Photo by Eric Laignel

Photo by Eric Laignel

The Right Artificial Light

“Absolutely do not use fluorescent bulbs. Those that replicate daylight are a much safer choice than bright, white, artificial light.”

Tip: For chandeliers, floor lamps, sconces, or other fixtures used to light an entire room, try full-spectrum bulbs, which are available in multiple shapes and bases.

Photo by Dufner Heighes

Photo by Dufner Heighes

See It Up Close

“Picture lights are meant for smaller works and are great for drawing your eye directly to the details of the art. They invite a viewer to get an up close look.”

Tip: A picture light will usually take low-wattage bulbs. Dufner and Heighes Wismer recommend keeping the light as dim as possible to protect your piece.

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