How to Buy Wall Hangings for Your Dining Room

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How to Buy Wall Hangings for Your Dining Room

Wall hangings are a form of artwork that has been around since ancient times. They are made for several different purposes – decoration, historical preservation, and depiction of fictional stories to name a few. Examples of wall hangings have been found worldwide and from many time periods – probably the most famous wall hanging is the Bayeux Tapestry, a French work which depicts the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings. Hangings are still popular nowadays, as they are a low-cost, versatile, and often unique piece of art that can add a talking point to any room – including a dining room. Tapestries and rugs are common types of wall hangings, though recently, smaller metal wall art pieces have become popular.

Choosing Wall Hangings for your Dining Room:

Although finding the artwork that is most suitable for an individual dining room can be a matter of personal taste, there are several factors that can be used to narrow the search. These include fabric, colour, design, setting, origin, and price, as well as considering where the hanging will be placed. A wall hanging in a dining room is likely to act as a focal point, but will need to be quite hard-wearing and resistant to food and drink smells, and maybe an occasional spill! Wall hangings are easily available, and can be purchased in stores, at markets or online.

Style and History of Wall Hangings:

Wall hangings are usually made of fabric, sometimes made of metal, and can be decorated in several different ways. Modern wall hangings may be machine-woven with an integral pattern, ethnic pieces may be hand-embroidered or have decoration such as batik, and “green” artwork may be fashioned from salvaged metal or recycled fabric. The pattern of a fabric hanging can be woven into the fabric or added later. Country of origin will also have an influence on the artwork – in style and design, European and Indian hangings, for example, will be very different. Here are some examples of historically significant wall hangings:

Bayeux Tapestry - France

A large length of linen embroidered with wool rather than an actual tapestry, this depicts the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings. It is over 68 metres long and created in the 1070s.

Hestia Tapestry - Greece

A 6th century AD Byzantine hanging made from wool and linen depicting Hestia, the Greek goddess who ruled the home and hearth. It is labelled “Hestia Polyolbos”, which translates as “Hestia, full of blessings”, and may have been a gift to the goddess or hung in a home to attract her favour.

The Hunt of the Unicorn - Netherlands

Telling a fantastical story, this is a series of tapestries created between 1495 and 1505. The vibrant depiction of a group of men in search of a unicorn is woven in wool, silk, and some metallic thread.

Types of Material and Suitability

Wall hangings for a modern-day home are normally chosen for purely aesthetic purposes, but it is worth considering the properties of fabrics before purchasing a hanging in case they are not suitable for the chosen area of display – in this case a dining room.

Wool

A wool hanging, such as a tapestry or rug, will have insulating properties and, therefore, help keep a room warm. Wool also quiets sound – rugs will be particularly effective at this due to their pile. A wool hanging would be acceptable in a dining room as it helps stop draughts and give a sumptuous look – wool is a rich-coloured material and often looks luxurious in decorative settings. However, it should be noted that wool may be hard to clean in the event of a strong smell or a spillage.

Cotton

Cotton hangings are lightweight and generally low-cost. They will allow air movement round them. Tie-dye and batik hangings are often cotton, and this fabric is easy to frame if you wish to preserve your art in this way. Cotton hangings may be suitable in a dining room, as they are easy to clean, but they may move excessively when people are making their way around the room.

Metal

Metal wall art is a reasonably new technique. Metal hangings are usually small, eye-catching, and hung in place of a picture. A metal hanging would make a great focal point in a dining room, and is both hard-wearing and easy to clean.

Finishing Styles of Wall Hangings

The type of construction and finishing involved in a wall hanging will often give a visual effect on the final piece. Some types of embellishment will not change the lay of the fabric, others will give raised stitching and/or visible threads.

Weaving

With wool, will give a textured finish. With cotton, a smooth finish. Can be used to create patterns within the weave by use of different coloured threads during the weaving process.

Stitching

Embroidering or tapestry stitching will raise the finish of the stitched areas slightly away from the base. Different stitches can be used for different textures.

Tie-dye

Made by tying knots in the fabric or wrapping elastic bands round small areas then soaking the fabric in a dark dye. Gives an unusual effect, but hard to do on thick fabrics like wool.

Screen Printing

Can put complex pictures onto lightweight fabric, and is a fast method of decoration. Gives a smooth finish.

Batik

Can be used on different fabrics for different effects. A pattern or picture is painted onto the base fabric with wax. The fabric is then dyed, but the waxed areas will be waterproof and not take up the dye. When the wax is flaked off, decorated fabric is revealed.

Hooking

Historically, more a method of rug-making than of decoration, strips of fabric or pieces of wool are hooked through a base fabric. Gives a “pile” effect similar to a carpet.

Why Choose a Wall Hanging for your Dining Room?

There are many advantages to a wall hanging over a picture or other art. Hangings do not need to be framed, are readily available, and can be tailored to fit requirements. They can double as curtains, hang on a sideboard, can conceal a storage alcove, and will easily hang on an uneven wall with no problems as they are flexible. As described earlier, if hung in the correct place, a thick wall hanging can also help exclude draughts and retain heat, and the colours of a rug or patterned tapestry can be matched to a room more easily than those of painted pictures. Wall hangings are also very long-lasting in comparison to pictures – if treated correctly, they will not fade quickly, they are easy to clean, and most will generally not be damaged by accidental knocks or spills. Tapestries were used to give a luxurious feel to banqueting halls in medieval castles, and a wall hanging will give the same type of feeling to a dining room. If the hanging chosen is particularly special, the room could be themed around it.

Conclusion

A wall hanging can be a great addition to any dining room, but should be chosen with care to fit in with the room. Wall hangings are easy to find at reasonable prices on sites such as eBay, and with due care, a good quality wall hanging will be a focal point for a dining room for many years.

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