Decorating & Design

August 17, 2015

How Should I Hang My Pictures?

Framed artwork and pictures add a splash of color and character to a space. It may seem simple to just add one to any given wall, but there are rules to be followed. A wall beside a pretty window, for example, doesn’t need to be filled with art; the view should be the focal point. Don’t hang pictures too high or at different heights in a room. Keep them at the same level so your gaze doesn’t jump up and down from piece to piece. Here are some tips that will help you make the right decision when displaying art in different areas of your home!


1. “Ground” your art by hanging it above a sofa, chair or table. Think of each pairing as a single unit; the furniture anchors the work, and you’ll avoid a “floating” effect.

2. Consider proportion. Choose a larger picture, or a pairing of pictures, to hang over substantial furniture, like the sofa; place smaller works over a table or chair.

3. Centre pieces – 6″ to 8″ over a sofa or chair, 8″ to 10″ above a table – with enough room to accommodate the height of books or a vase. Or use this rule of thumb: the center of each picture should be about 60″ from the floor.


4. Large works above a mantel become a key focal point in any room. If a favorite mirror or picture is too small, hang it with a piece of a similar size or flank it with sconces.

5. Test drive a picture by leaning it against the wall atop a piece of furniture. When you’re sure it’s right for the spot, then commit to putting a hole in the wall.

Tip: If you’re hanging pictures in a group, trace each work onto paper and tape the templates to the wall. Rearrange the templates until you find a configuration you like. Measure down from the top of each frame to where the hook will be and poke a pencil through the paper to mark the spot. Hammer nails through a piece of tape to avoid making cracks in the wall. If using two nails to support a heavy picture, use a level to make sure the nails are at the same height. 


6. Though you may be tempted to hang a picture in every empty space, please don’t! Consider a grouping of smaller pictures. (As shown above.) Gallery walls can give just much drama as a large stand-alone picture.

To compose a grouping, work outward from the central picture. To maintain a clean look, keep one edge of each piece aligned with the edge of at least one other piece in the group, and space them 3″ to 4″ apart.


1. Stacey Brandford, House & Home March 2014; 2. Tony Soluri, House & Home April 2013; 3. Stacey Brandford, House & Home March 2014


House & Home Decorating 101


1. Michelle Lloyd Bermann; 2. Katherine Newman; 3. Michelle Lloyd Bermann