the art of hanging up

Updated: Aug 7, 2021


One of the most common questions I get from clients is "how high should I hang this"? My grandmother (also an interior designer!) had a personal pet peeve about artwork/pictures and their proper placement on a wall...she has passed this pet peeve gene on to me. Here are a few pointers to make sure you nail it the first time around!

A. How High (or Low) Should You Go?

1. Art should be hung at eye level (think of pieces you see in museums)

2. Rule of Thumb: Midpoint should be 57” to 60” from the floor

3. Ceilings Higher than Eight Feet: Midpoint should be closer to 60”

4. When grouping multiple pieces in a row, hang them as though they are one big piece

5. Exceptions to these rules:

a. Over a Sofa or Headboard: The bottom of the frame should be 6” to 10” above the

furniture piece (the art should not look like it is floating above the furniture, it should feel

connected to it)

b. If the piece is taller than 120”, forget the midpoint rule and hang the piece so that the

bottom of the frame is about 12” from the floor

B. Sizing it Up:

1. When selecting artwork for a space, err on the side of larger…BIGGER IS BETTER! Your artwork

should take up 2/3 to 3/4 of the wall area.

2. If you have a smaller piece of artwork or a framed picture that you love but you feel it is too

small for the space, then frame it with sconces to give more size

3. For art that is placed over a furniture piece (sofa, table, fireplace mantle), it should be 3/4 the

width of the furniture piece

4. Orientation – when working with a tall, skinny wall, select items that are portrait/vertical or

select horizontal pieces and ‘stack’ them; when working with a large wall, select items that

are landscape/horizontal or group multiple pieces to cover the space

C. Gallery Wall:

1. Gallery walls are great ways to create visual interest

a. On a staircase wall

b. In a hallway

c. On a bedroom/bathroom/dining room/family room wall

d. Over a reading nook chair

e. Under a staircase

f. Over a furniture piece

2. Pieces to use in a gallery collection

a. Items from the same artist in different sizes

b. Groupings of items in similar colors

c. Framed artwork mixed with mirrors/metal pieces/animal heads/words

d. Family photos from one session or many sessions in similar colors

3. Choosing a frame

a. Gallery frames (West Elm has some of my favorite frames)

b. Mix of metal with wooden frames

c. Different frames in different shapes and sizes in one color

d. Different frames in different shapes and sizes in multiple colors

e. Mats or no mats

D. How to Create a Gallery Wall:

1. Measure the wall to determine how “big” you want the gallery wall to be

2. Select your frames and gallery items and lay them out on the floor (this may take several attempts

to get the pieces to fit together just the way you like)

3. Measure your “grid” of art and determine the center point

4. Measure the center point of your wall

5. Hang the first item that is as close to that center point as possible (anchor

the wall by hanging a large piece first)

6. Working out from the first item, measure from hook to hook and hang from the inside pieces to

the outer pieces in your grid (mark your measurements with a pencil); a good rule of thumb is

to leave 3” between pieces but this can vary

7. Hang your wall!

E. Types of Hanging Hardware and Tools Needed:

1. Nails (different sizes)

2. Drywall anchors

3. Wire

4. Curtain rod, ribbon

5. Level

6. Stud finder

7. Hammer, drill

8. Spackle and touch up paint (we ALL make mistakes!)

Images from

my blue nest

a perfectly put together mess