Megan’s art hanging tips


06 Jul 2017

Stylist Megan Harrison-Turner shares her art-hanging and colour secrets.

While art galleries frequently have white walls so there is no colour to distract from the artist’s work, we often have colour on our walls at home. How much colour depends on the style of art:

Watercolour paintings are generally quite delicate in colour and medium, so sit well on subtle wall colours. Think Resene Apple Green and Resene Breeze.Some newer watercolour artworks have more vibrancy of pigment so can hold their own on stronger, crisper wall colours.


Oil paintings and works with stronger textures can sit on even stronger colours. Many of the artworks you will see in the museums and great houses of England and Europe are hung on bold colours. Almost anything with wooden or gilt frames can look stunning against dark greens, earthy reds and charcoal. Try Resene Ruck N Maul and Resene Pohutukawa.There’s a trend for oversized monochromatic art or photography, which looks stunning on clean white walls or a solid black background.

Did you know… that traditionally landscapes are framed in concave framing to draw the eye in whereas portraits are in convex frames?

Using an artwork as inspiration for your colour scheme works well. Just be sure to see the general tones of the artwork rather than pull out a tiny detail colour. One easy way to do this is to take a photo and load it into the Resene Palette Generator and it will turn it into a colour palette for you.

Picture galleries can add interest to nondescript spaces, especially transitional spaces like hallways and stairwells.

Here are four simple tips to creating a picture gallery or cluster of artworks or photographs:

Unify the frames and the subject matter. Paint a collection of frames in similar colours (all greys, or sea blues etc) to unify a collection of artworks or photographs. The frames can be different widths and styles but will be unified by colour. Family photo galleries work well because they have a unifying subject – portraits. Add a family cross-stitch, a certificate or calligraphy copy of someone’s wedding vows to add interest.Cosy but consistent. Keep the distances between the frames close and even. For small frames (those that hold 5x7 photographs) the distance between each frame should only be 2.5-3cm. The larger the frames, the larger the gaps but still err on the side of cosy.Create a vertical and horizontal axis from which all the other frames spread. This works particularly well with a family gallery wall as more photographs can be added as the family grows. The horizontal and vertical axis has been exaggerated in the red room pictured above with the words ‘friends’ and ‘family’ but you can see how easily the gallery can grow in any direction. The frames are painted in the limited colour palette of green, gold, pale grey and dark grey (Resene Nero, Resene Half Foundry, Resene Proton metallic, Resene Gold Dust metallic and Resene Tiki Tour) to unify them. Easy DIY portraits were created by placing tracing paper over photographs and painting simple strokes with a fine brush. The walls are painted in Resene Pohutukawa.
Lay out the composition on the floor and play around with it until you’re happy. Then take a snapshot on your mobile phone to refer to as you’re hanging the artworks or photographs.

Other art-hanging tips

If you hate crooked frames, use two hooks on the rear of the frame itself, rather than one hook and some cord.If you like lining your artwork up like soldiers, use a level.Don’t hang pictures or a collection of art too high. A good rule of thumb is to hang art so that your eye is level with a point that’s a third of the way down the picture. Consider the viewing angle - dining room pictures can be hung lower as they are usually viewed when seated.A long thin artwork (vertical or horizontal) will need company either from other art or furniture and accessories if hung on a large wall, or they will look lost.

Think outside the square when it comes to ‘art’


Use round baskets in varying sizes hung in a group. The upper wall is Resene Triple Wheatfield and the lower wall is Resene Bronze. Or use an old shutter, painted in Resene Hope on a Resene Fresh wall, as a photo holder.


Create a framed still life by placing a floating shelf inside a frame. The wall is Resene Hullabaloo, the frame and vase are painted in Resene Candy Floss and the shelf is Resene Trinidad. Or use a piece of wallpaper over a ready-made canvas as an artwork. This is from the Resene Wallpaper Collection (358000), available from Resene ColorShops, set against a Resene Atlas wall. 


Habitat Magazine May 2017

Megan's room recipes

Colour expert and stylist Megan Harrison Turner uses certain rules when creating rooms for Resene. She shares her secrets.

Baking a cake successfully is about getting the proportions of ingredients right, in the right order. It’s the same for a room scheme.

Choosing the elements of an interior in the right order can save a small fortune. It’ll be some natural law that the best match for the Resene paint colour you've committed to is the most expensive benchtop granite ever imported. Choose your paint colours last – with so many to choose from, paint is the most flexible part of a room scheme. It’s easy to literally paint yourself into a corner when choosing paint colours first.Start with the most limited or most expensive material first. So in a kitchen, choose that granite benchtop first, then the tiles/splashback, then the flooring, then the cabinetry. Finally, choose the paint colour for the walls that best ties together all these elements.

The right proportions

When putting a number of colours together be sure to vary the proportions. Using them in equal proportions, will give the room an unsettled feel and make the colours feel far too intense. Use the 60:30:10 principle - 60 is the walls, 30 the flooring and 10 is an accent colour. You don’t need to take the ceiling into account using this proportional scheme unless you plan to paint it in a colour other than white.

These proportions are a tried and true industry standard for high-end product packaging. For example, a perfume box in deep red, black and gold. For an even more luxe feel, a 70:30 proportion uses just two colours, such as white and gold. These principles can be easily converted into colour schemes for your home to convey the same message.

If you’re keen on using a range of colours or have elements that are colourful (like a wallpaper), one way of tying these together, is to add a good dose of an ‘achromatic’. That’s black or white, or colours close to them, such as charcoal, pale grey, cream.

Using white, grey or black can work brilliantly as neutral foils to make even pale colours sing, and are great choices if you want to break away from just using neutrals. They can add drama to a scheme without having to add a bold colour.

If you’re set on using bold colour, but still want a cohesive look try a tonal recipe made up of ‘related’ colours – those that sit next to each other on the colour wheel. So green, turquoise and blue is a tonal related scheme. Or, varying shades of green from turquoise to leafy yellow-greens.

A more classic approach to a tonal scheme is to use a colour in varying strengths or shades, such as icy blue through to inky blue. Stick to the 60:30:10 rule and use one colour in a higher proportion. Or, of course, you can use colours from the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection where colour families and variants are already chosen for you.


Another room recipe is more to do with accessories than colour, and sounds similar to the old wedding rhyme “something old, something new, then add shiny, reflective and a hue”. The old and new are easy enough, the ‘shiny’ is something high gloss, and reflective is a mirror or metallic item. And hue is about adding a colour. Doing this creates layers of interest and textures. Although it’s not in the rhyme, adding fur, suede or velvet has the same effect, just like the room at the start of this article.

Fabrics and wallpapers are great ways to build a colour scheme because all the hard work of “does this green match with that purple/orange/blue” has already been done by an expert.

Tip: if you are using a wallpaper to inspire a colour scheme (this is Urban Flowers 32722-1, available from Resene ColorShops), beware of picking an exact match of just one of the colours. Stand back, squint a little and choose a paint colour that goes with the overall tone of the wallpaper. Just like Monet paintings, the colours in a pattern can blur together and look quite different when viewed from across the room rather than close up. You want a colour that echoes the far-away view. One easy way to do this is to take a photo and load it into the Resene Palette Generator and it will turn it into a colour palette for you.

Our bush greens are greyer than you might think.

If you’re keen on echoing the colours and textures from outside the room, don't let the left side of your brain, which knows that ‘leaves are green’, do the choosing for you. Really look. A lot of New Zealand bush greens are surprisingly grey-green or black-green and not nearly as sharp as the colours we often point to first on a paint chart.  Look at the colour against black not white and look at the largest sized sample you can. 

Megan’s top tip: With all the decorating styles and choices available it’s easy to be overwhelmed or to lose focus on your style direction. A simple but effective way to stay on course is to choose a couple of words that describe how you want your home to be and feel. Emotive words, like welcoming or decadent, or casual. Use five words maximum. Then with every decision and purchase, ask yourself if it fits the description. Use it when you’re buying carpet, or when you’re tempted by a teapot. That way, you won’t end up with ‘orphans’ in your scheme.


A stylist’s eye

A pair of eyes interpreting your shoot from a slightly different angle can be hugely beneficial to keeping your work ontrend. Aaron K discusses with lifestyle and interiors stylist Megan Harrison-Turner the role of a stylist

  • The Photographer's Mail18 Apr 2016Aaron K

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Cover image styled by Megan Harrison-Turner


As a fashion photographer, I know from personal experience what a huge impact a professional stylist can have on a shoot. Don’t ask me how they do it, but a great stylist can take a mundane or lacklustre scene and quickly turn it into something visually spectacular. Their in-depth knowledge of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ can also prevent major embarrassment (for the photographer, the subject, and the client) further down the line. In fact, for trend-sensitive assignments, I think it would be fair to say that having a stylist involved from the outset is absolutely essential.

So, for this issue’s column, I spoke with Megan Harrison-Turner, a very highly regarded lifestyle and interiors stylist who has spent over two decades working alongside some of New Zealand’s leading commercial photographers. During this time, Harrison-Turner has styled dozens and dozens of editorials for well-known publications, including Your Home & Garden, Home & Entertaining, Cuisine, and Fashion Quarterly, and has been instrumental in the development of distinctive looks for many major brands, such as Levene and Ezibuy Home & Gifts. The Photographer’s Mail: Can you briefly explain the role of a stylist: what exactly do you do?

Megan Harrison-Turner: Well, ultimately, I’d like to think that what I do is help photographers to create great images. On occasion, when I’m asked this question, I tell people that I go shopping for a living — but styling is obviously much more than that. As a stylist, I basically have to beg, borrow, buy, hire, make, invent, or do whatever else is required to assemble the most suitable items for the scene that we happen to be shooting. A big part of a stylist’s job is knowing where to find things.

During the shoot itself, I worry about all the little details. I really love what photographers do with light and angles and composition — they make the scene that I’ve put together look better. But I worry about different aspects of the shoot than the photographer — like the shape of a wine glass or the finish of a table surface. You really need to get these details right in order to ensure that the photos ‘make sense’ and are visually appealing to the client’s target demographic. I imagine acquiring this type of knowledge requires quite a bit of research.

Definitely. I’m constantly keeping an eye on what’s going on. For example, I’ll attend gift fairs or food expos so [that] I know what’s coming through to the market and what’s on its way out. I’ll visit the boutique stores because they stock the new, innovative products first — usually a year or two before those products become mainstream and end up in Briscoes.

I also follow a gazillion different blogs and pick up a lot of magazines — not necessarily

because I like them, but so [that] I know what’s already been done. When shooting an editorial for a magazine, it’s important that we don’t produce something which looks a month or two behind other magazines in the same genre. What can photographers do to make your job easier and get the best results?

Having a detailed and concise brief really helps. Everything tends to run more smoothly when we have a clear understanding of what we’re aiming for.

It also helps if photographers understand that when things change, for whatever reason, the original costs that were quoted may differ.

Working collaboratively is another important skill. Some photographers act like a dictator on set, but there’s always more than one right answer to any problem that comes up, so, being willing to listen to suggestions from others can often be quite useful. When hiring a stylist, what attributes should photographers be looking for?

Pick the right kind of stylist for the job. My background, knowledge, and expertise is in props and interiors — I don’t do fashion. I’m a big believer in horses for courses, so I leave the fashion styling to those who specialize in fashion.

Styling is a real job. Sometimes, when there’s a styling budget, it might be tempting to get a friend’s partner’s cousin (or whoever) to go out and find things for a shoot from the stores. But professional stylists, like myself, have spent years building relationships with suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, dealers, galleries, private collectors, and all sorts of people, so we know how to locate and acquire the right things at the right price in a much shorter time frame than a lay person. And a good stylist will be able to find items that you simply can’t get on the street.

I guess it comes back to professionalism. If you want to be known as a professional photographer, it pays to work with other professionals who you can count on to deliver a level of quality and service that will actually enhance your reputation and standing with clients.

You can find out more about Harrison-Turner and her stylist assignments at