3 secrets to displaying art in ways that make your home feel happy by Kit Kemp

Interior designer Kit Kemp knows a thing or two about gallery walls, and here are her secrets for making your home feel happy

Kit Kemp gallery wall
Room designed by Kit Kemp
(Image credit: Firmdale)

Kit Kemp's hotels are known for putting a smile on the faces of all who enter. From London's Ham Yard and Charlotte Street to New York's The Whitby, they're brimming with pattern, color and wonderful gallery wall ideas

'When you turn the key and enter the house, and suddenly, somehow you feel like it's eternal spring – that to me is a happy home,’ Kit explains. ‘If there’s a dog in there wagging its tail, even better.’

‘The way you design your home can without a doubt make you happier! It's the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning and what you come back to at the end of the day – it should give you an enormous amount of pleasure. Happy homes and happy people are synonymous with one another.’ 

Kit is famed for her love of craftsmanship and artistry, and it's this that is her secret ingredient. ‘There's something transcendent about looking at wonderful art, and art in the home tells a story. Pieces on the walls communicate so much about yourself and who you are, and also your history, because it will bring back a memory of a time in your life – it's the story of your life, and we don't have to write a novel, but it's there in front of you.’  

Here are her secrets to displaying art for maximum happy-making effect:

Kit Kemp art display

(Image credit: Firmdale)

If you're wondering how to create the perfect gallery wall, Kit says it doesn't have to revolve around art. ‘If you’re creating a gallery wall, don’t just incorporate pictures – you can add anything!' Kit says. 'Funny little things can be framed and become part of your story, items from bowling shoes (which I have framed), to handkerchiefs, collections of keys, to that embroidered shawl that you bought in Guatemala. There will be things in your life that are actually very decorative – so start a collection!'

DIY art, and the small touches that help to finesse your own work

Kit Kemp butterfly art

(Image credit: Firmdale)

‘Art and collections shouldn't just be constrained to a major artist – get involved and make your own,' Kit says encouragingly. 'We made a piece for a project by gathering loads and loads of paper butterflies and displaying them in a clear box, which suddenly made it feel very contemporary (try putting coloured or black felt at the back of the box so everything that you put in it stands forward). We've also done potato prints and framed them in such a way that they look absolutely amazing. This is happy art, rather than living with a Picasso!’

Wall space, and how to make the most of it

Kit Kemp art wall

Art in Kit's own home

(Image credit: Firmdale)

When hanging art, there are tricks to getting it right. ‘It’s important to look at your hung art as a whole wall,' Kit says. 'If you have one large piece, don’t crowd other pieces around it – you have to give your art space and let it breathe. If you have too many fabulous artworks, they almost cancel each other out. Making the most of corners in the room for hanging art can help with this, corners are so often overlooked. If you hang art in a corner, it draws the eye and makes the room seem bigger, just make sure to light the art too!’. 

Amy Moorea Wong

Amy Moorea Wong is a freelance interior design journalist with a decade of experience in contemporary print and digital editorial, previously News Editor at Livingetc. She writes on a broad range of modern design topics from news and interior zeitgeist to houses, architecture, travel and wider culture. She has a penchant for natural materials, surprising pops of colour and pattern and design with an eco edge.