Art Hanging Rules + How To Hang Pictures

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Hanging art is an art form in itself, but there are some design rules to make this process easier! Art can elevate the overall aesthetics of any space by transforming a plain wall into a spectacular gallery. But to create picture-perfect displays, you must have a keen eye, a dash of originality, and an understanding of picture-hanging design rules. We’ll go through the rules on how to hang art in this extensive guide, including hanging one picture or a gallery wall.

woman hanging 2 pieces of art on the wall

The Rule of Eye Level

The golden rule for hanging art is to hang it so the centre is at eye level. This ensures that your art is visible and establishes a pleasing balance in the space. Eye level is typically between 57 and 60 inches off the ground, and when hanging art, this height should be followed as a general rule. However, remember to consider the average eye level of the viewers in your household to ensure everyone can enjoy the artwork comfortably.

PRO TIP: I usually recommend that the centre of the art should be hung 60″ from the floor.

large piece of art on the all behind breakfast nook
Shop the Kitchen: Sconce here, art, dining table (similar), floral throw pillow. Find out more kitchen details here.

Balancing Size and Proportion

It’s essential to consider both the size and proportion of the piece of art and the available wall space when hanging it. Since they anchor a room, big pieces make good focal points for larger walls. Conversely, a gallery wall can be created by grouping smaller art pieces. Generally, give each piece enough freedom to “breathe” while maintaining a consistent look.

2 pieces of art hanging above a sofa, rules for hanging art
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Cambridge. Photography by Patrick Biller

Lighting Matters

To increase the impact of your artwork, proper lighting is important. Natural light may highlight the rich colours and textures, while artificial lighting in just the right places can have dramatic effects. Avoid direct sunlight because it will eventually degrade the artwork, but UV-protecting glass can be made to fit your frame. Experiment with various lighting solutions to achieve the ideal balance that enhances your art and the overall mood of the space.

Create Visual Cohesion

It’s crucial to consider the relationship between the artwork, the wall colour, and the surrounding furnishings to create a cohesive art arrangement. You may achieve a harmonious balance by choosing items that go well with the current features in the space. The idea is to preserve visual unity, whether you choose a symmetrical arrangement or a carefully selected mixture of styles and sizes.

piece of art hanging on the wall of a dining room
Shop the dining room: Art, Chairs, Rug, Chandelier, Curtains (similar), Dried Hydrangeas (similar), Dining Table is antique, and decorative items are mostly thrifted.

PRO TIP: Need more clarification about your art placement? Use Painters tape to tape the same size onto the wall temporarily. Want to take it a step further? Take a photo of the space and import the image into Google Slides/PowerPoint/Canva. Next, import a picture of the art overtop of your photo and resize it to the correct sizing of your art. This will give you a more accurate idea of how the art will look in the space.

How to Hang One Piece of Art

Hanging a single picture is a simple yet crucial task that can significantly impact the overall aesthetics of your space, but there are a few rules to follow. These steps will ensure a seamless and visually pleasing display:

Choose the Right Location

Select the ideal spot for your artwork. Consider the purpose of the room, the existing decor, and the desired focal point. Plus, you must ensure that the wall you choose is sturdy enough to support the weight of the artwork.

1 picture hung on the wall above a firepalce, rules for hanging pictures
Shop the space: Floral Rug, Woven Rug, Armchair, Art, Decorative items and fireplace are mostly antique/thrifted.

Measure and Mark

Before deciding how to hang your art, you must pick the perfect place for it and measure its height and width. To mark the appropriate location, use a pencil. When hanging a single piece, the artwork’s centre should be about 57 to 60 inches above the floor and positioned at eye level. Adjust this measurement based on your preferences and the typical viewing distance in your home.

Locate Studs or Use Wall Anchors

Finding the wall studs is best to hang your artwork securely. Use a stud finder or tap the wall to listen for a solid sound, indicating the presence of a stud. If studs are not available or not in the desired location, use wall anchors or specialized picture-hanging hardware that can support the weight of the artwork.

picture hanging on the wall above a bed
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Cobourg. Photographer Lauren Miller

Prepare the Hanging Hardware

Attach appropriate hanging hardware to the back of your artwork. For lighter pieces, simple picture wire or D-rings should work. For heavier or larger paintings, consider using heavy-duty hooks or wall brackets.

Position and Hang

Hold your artwork against the wall, aligning it with the marked spot. Ensure that it is level by using a spirit/bubble level. Once aligned, carefully place the artwork on the wall hooks. Step back and make necessary adjustments to ensure it is centred and level.

Finishing Touches

Once your artwork is securely hung, inspect it from different angles to ensure it appears straight and visually balanced. Adjust if needed. Finally, erase any pencil marks or touch up the wall if necessary to create a clean and polished look.

painting hanging on a shiplap wall behind breakfast nook
Kitchen: Sconce here, art, dining table (similar), floral throw pillow. Find out more kitchen details here.

How to Hang an Art Gallery Wall

There are a few rules to creating and hanging an art gallery wall in a beautiful way that displays a collection of artworks or pictures, adding depth, visual interest, and personality to your space. Follow these steps to learn how to hang an art gallery wall with finesse:

Plan and Prepare

  • Select your Artworks: Choose a cohesive collection of artworks or photographs with a common theme, colour palette, or style. This will help create a visually harmonious gallery wall.
  • Gather Materials: You will need a tape measure, level, pencil, painter’s tape, hammer, nails, and hanging hardware (such as picture hooks, D-rings, or adhesive strips) suitable for the weight of your artwork.

Arrange and Mock-Up

  • Clear the Space: Clear the wall and any nearby furniture to create a clutter-free area for your gallery wall.
  • Trace and Cut: Trace each artwork onto craft paper or newspaper. Cut out the traced shapes and label them with corresponding artwork names or numbers. Alternatively, I like to use painter’s tape to outline the art on the wall.
  • Arrange the Layout: Experiment with different arrangements by arranging the paper cutouts on the floor or taping them to the wall. Play with different compositions until you find a visually balanced layout and pleasing to the eye.
gallery wall hung above a sofa
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Cobourg. Photographer Lauren Miller

Measure and Mark

  • Determine the Placement: Once you have settled on a layout, measure and mark the center point of your gallery wall. Next, use a pencil to lightly mark the top center point on the wall.
  • Measure for Spacing: Measure the distance between each artwork horizontally and vertically. Use these measurements to mark the placement of each artwork on the wall. Again, using a level to ensure accuracy and straight lines is helpful.

Hang and Adjust

  • Start from the Center: Begin with the center artwork of your gallery wall layout. Then, align it with the top center mark on the wall and hang it using the appropriate hanging hardware.
  • Work Outward: Hang the surrounding artworks, following the measurements and spacing determined during the planning stage. Use a level to ensure each artwork is straight and aligned with adjacent pieces.
  • Adjust as Needed: Step back frequently to assess the overall arrangement and adjust to achieve a visually balanced and cohesive display. Use painter’s tape to temporarily affix artwork and experiment with different placements before making final adjustments.
gallery wall hung on a nursery wall, rules for hanging pictures
Shop the nursery: Rug, Rocking chair, Throw Pillow Cover, Bunting, Gallery Wall, Lamp, Crib, Mirror (similar), Knobs (similar), Dresser, Flowers

Finalize and Enjoy

  • Securely Hang: Once you’re satisfied with the arrangement, securely attach each artwork to the wall using the appropriate hanging hardware. Double-check that all artworks are level and secure.
  • Finishing Touches: Remove any remaining paper cutouts or painter’s tape, and erase any pencil marks on the wall. Then, consider adding decorative accents or lighting to enhance the gallery wall’s overall impact.

PRO TIP: Use sticky tack or rubber dots on the back of your art to ensure the frames stay straight on the walls.

how to hang art, two pieces of art hung beside a bench seat
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Cambridge. Photography by Patrick Biller

Hanging pictures is an art in itself, and by following these essential rules, you can transform your walls into captivating masterpieces. From adhering to the rule of eye level to creating a visually pleasing gallery wall, you now have the tools to confidently showcase your art and elevate the overall aesthetics of your space. Happy art hanging!

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