There is an Art to Hanging Art

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

One of the subtle little details that give a home that designer look is properly hung artwork and wall decor. Although it may seem easy, hanging art properly is a common mistake in decorating. 

  • Juggling pictures to get the right one in the right place can be difficult. Instead, work with pieces of paper. Make a template of the size of your artwork and place it where you think you might like to hang your picture. This will give you sense of space, centering, distance and height that will allow you to avoid holding up large heavy artwork. To hold up your templates, you can use artist’s masking tape, which is less sticky than standard masking tape and most likely will not remove paint.
  • In general, artwork should be hung so that the center point of the picture or grouping is at about eye level for the average person.  5’7” is a good height to use. While this won't be possible in every situation, it's a good guideline to keep in mind.
  • It’s important to always use picture hanging hooks that are strong enough to bear the weight of the item you’re hanging.  You’ll find a range of standard picture hangers or hooks designed to take weights of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds of weight.
  • When hanging a picture, choose a wall where it will have maximum impact – over a fireplace, behind a couch, opposite your bed. Start with these key positions and work from there. Keep in mind that a very large picture will overwhelm the space in a small room and its impact will be reduced. A big room, on the other hand, will need one large picture or several grouped together to create impact.
  • Give some consideration to the light and heat sources in the room when hanging a picture. Avoid hanging original paintings, old family photos or textile wall hangings in direct sunlight or directly over a heat source. They are prone to damage in these conditions.
  • When hanging a picture behind a couch, bed or table choose one that is narrower than the length of the furniture.  For example, if your piece of furniture measures 6ft then your picture or pictures need to occupy a space centered above it with a minimum of 6-8 inches either side. The distance between the top of the furniture and the frame edge should be roughly 8-10 inches but use your judgment as it will depend on the height of the furniture.  Remember; use a template to help you get it right.
  • Illuminating artwork gives it importance. For example, track lighting in a hallway can banish the dark hallway feel as well as make an art collection more dramatic.
  • Vertical lines in a picture, in a frame, or in the arrangement on the wall add to the feeling of height in a room.  While horizontal lines can give the illusion of width in a narrow room.
  • Don’t eyeball it to see if it’s straight - get out the level!  After you've gotten it level, it can still become crooked, especially in high traffic areas. You can keep a picture straight using double sided tape to keep your picture from moving. Simply attach it to all four corners of the picture and press it tightly against the wall.

Here’s a fun tip if you are drilling holes to hang your pictures. Use a sticky note to capture dust. Since hanging artwork is usually a task done in a finished room, it can create drywall, plaster, or concrete dust on your floors or furniture. Add a simple, folded Post-It (make a shelf with the paper on the opposite side of the sticky part in an L) underneath your marked hole to collect most of the dust made.