Decorating & Design

December 15, 2008

Tips For Hanging Art

Edit what you display

Resist the urge to collect every framed piece of art or photograph you own and try to find a space for it. Instead, look around your rooms and decide which walls would benefit from some artwork, assess your collection and start planning locations for your most cherished pieces that will add to the spaces where they are displayed.

Protect valuables

Try to protect your artwork from UV light (sun fades artwork), heat and humidity. Avoid hanging pieces in a humid bathroom or over a heat register as this could potentially damage valued artwork.

Don’t forget lighting

Pictures or groupings that deserve extra attention can be emphasized with lighting. Low-wattage halogen bulbs or standard incandescent are both good choices for spotlighting artwork. Avoid regular halogen or close direct lighting as the heat could possibly damage the artwork.

Mount at the right height

In rooms with standard 8-foot high ceilings, most artwork should be hung so that the middle of the picture is approximately 5 feet (60”) off the floor. For rooms with higher ceilings, artwork can be hung a little higher, which will visually lower the ceiling height.

When hanging pictures above a sofa, leave an approximate 6” to 8” space between the top of the back of the sofa and the bottom of the picture. Over a tabletop or counter, allow 10” to 12” between the table surface and bottom of the picture. This space can be adjusted if you have lamps or other items on the table, which will visually add height.

Go for a grouping

The best way to arrange groupings on a wall is to first lay your pictures out on the floor as you want them to appear on the wall. Next, trace and cut out paper templates of each frame and tape these to the wall to mimic the pattern formed on the floor, nudging them around until you create the desired display. Mark the nail locations with a pencil, and make sure to use proper hardware for your pieces. It might seem time consuming to make paper templates, but it is much easier to move paper around on the wall than to repair holes made by mistake.

Groupings are more effective if they are hung with some kind of symmetry to create a square or rectangular shaped display. Since your frame sizes will likely vary, you won’t have a perfect geometrically shaped outline, but the desired balanced appearance can still be achieved. Try to space the frames 3” to 4” apart.

Stage a solo show

Don’t clutter very large artwork with other, smaller pieces. Left alone, a larger piece will have more impact.

Stay low for little ones

When hanging artwork in a child’s room, think about hanging pieces at their sightline level. Your child will be able to enjoy the artwork much more if they can see it without having to look up. Use simple, open frames or replace the glass in frames with Plexiglas to avoid dangerous breakage.