The Art of Hanging Pictures

Keep space between the bottom of a picture or mirror and the surface below it.

Keep space between the bottom of a picture or mirror and the surface below it.

Hanging pictures, or mirrors, or artwork on a wall takes some thinking. It’s very interesting how many people take such care to buy the right furniture and accessories for their home only to place them in a , what can best be described as a “higgaldy-pigaldy” fashion.

There are many guidelines you can follow that will help you choose the best placement for your collections. But let’s talk about hanging pictures. This short blog entry will just give you a few pointers (in no particular order) to consider when you’re ready to go with that hammer and nail!

1.Leave breathing room around a picture. In the photo at left there is space between the bottom of the mirror and the objects below it. Be careful not to place your picture too high, however, or it will appear to be unconnected to the surface below it.

2. Watch the scale of the picture with the objects that surround it. If you have a small picture above a large wing chair it will be out of scale and look strange. You have a choice: get a bigger picture or combine several smaller pictures to create the effect of a larger one.

3. Group pictures together for more impact. However, before you put several pieces together, stop and ask yourself : What is the common thread in this grouping of pictures?

Picture groupings need themes

Picture groupings need themes

Is it the frame that was used? Is it the subject matter? For example, are they all landscapes? Are they all in black and white? Are they all prints or photographs?

You can mix disparate pictures together but although it may look like there is no obvious connection, the combination will simply feel right – even to the untrained eye. Herein lies the “art” of hanging pictures. The grouping of pictures at the left combines prints of famous paintings (the Gleaners and another painting by the same artist, Millet) with other prints. The picture frames and the colours are similar and there is a landscape in each one.

4. Place pictures at optimum viewing height. The Victorians put eye screws in the middle of the back of the picture, causing the picture to fall forward on the top. This was intentional because the pictures were hung up way above eye level (the walls were covered floor to ceiling with objects) and this was the only way you could see the picture! Unless you are replicating a Victorian room place the pictures at the height that they would be viewed in the room. This means at eye level while standing in an entrance, and at seated eye level in the dining room.

5. Use pictures to create balance in a vignette. You don’t need to put pictures just right above a piece of furniture. If that had been done (as shown in the bottom picture) the area above the dresser would have been way too crowded.

Pictures can help balance a room

Pictures can help balance a room

In this case the picture on the left helped to balance the heavier Arts and Crafts lamp on the right and connected the chair to the grouping. This bedroom has a half wall due to the shape of the roof – and that adds another challenge when hanging pictures.

6. Use only the thickness of nails you need. It’s overkill in my opinion to use the hook and nail combinations you can buy at hardware stores. That is, unless your picture or mirror is extremely heavy.

That’s it – just a few pointers on hanging pictures in your home.