Hanging art often comes as a challenge due to the variety of factors involved. From the artwork size to the display layout and the placement location, the guiding principles for hanging artwork vary widely. If you have an outstanding art piece or a collection that you’re thinking of hanging in your home, this article covers all the professional tips on how high to hang pictures anywhere in your house like a pro.
General Principles for Hanging Pictures
As a general principle, curators recommend hanging art with its center being 57 inches from the ground. This measurement often represents the eye level of most people and is thus a good principle to go by when hanging pictures in general residential and commercial spaces, and for unknown audiences. One should be able to comfortably view the artwork without the strain of looking upwards or downwards. Once you settle on the right eye level, ensure that all the artworks in the space are centered at the same height for consistency.
· Hanging Pictures in Rooms with Different Ceiling Heights
The 57-inch rule applies to rooms with standard ceiling heights of approximately 8 feet. However, you can position your artwork centered anywhere between 57 to 60 inches from the ground, depending on the ceiling height. That said, you can work with a centerline of up to 60 inches for high ceilings that go beyond 8 feet.
· Hanging Pictures in Sitting Areas
The eye level naturally shifts when viewing art from a seated position. Taking this into consideration, you will therefore need to hang your artwork at a lower position when displaying art in areas where they will be viewed from a sitting position. Although this value might change with the furniture height and design, the sitting eye level is ergonomically considered to be 44 inches, which will therefore act as your centerline.
· Hanging Pictures above Furniture
When hanging artworks above furniture, the rule of thumb is to place the artwork with its bottom positioned between 8 and 10 inches from the top of the furniture. This allows for a visual connection with the furniture, while still avoiding any obstruction from the view of the artwork. Ideally, the artwork should be centrally placed, spanning two-thirds of the length of the furniture below it. For smaller artworks, consider adding more pieces to your collection to maximize the wall space.
· Hanging Pictures on a Gallery Wall
When hanging pictures on a gallery wall, treat the entire collection as one large piece. This means that the entire collection should be centered around the eye level. Evenly space out the various art pieces to avoid visual clutter. You can work with a uniform spacing of 3 to 6 inches between every art piece on your gallery wall.
If the art collection on your gallery wall is above a piece of furniture, follow the 8-10” rule, leaving adequate space between the furniture and the art collection.
· Hanging Pictures in Kids Rooms
Children grow with time. Therefore, it is crucial to hang art at their respective eye levels, raising the artwork over the years as they grow taller. This will allow them to interact with the pieces at a comfortable viewing height.
· Hanging Tall Wall Decor
For oversized artworks, you may sometimes need to just visually weigh in and find a position that works best depending on the height of the artwork. You can simply try to ensure that the first third of the artwork lies near the eye level.
When hanging long vertical pieces exceeding 120 inches in height, the eye level rule may no longer apply. Simply raise the bottom of the picture frame one foot off the floor.
· Hanging Pictures on Staircase Walls
Thinking of displaying artwork on your staircase wall? Mark the 57-60 inch mark above the tread of each step to find the ideal height for your artwork. If you need to hang several art pieces, mark a diagonal line with painter’s tape, joining the eye level marked on the tread at the landing, to that on the last tread at the bottom of the staircase. This will give you an inclining guideline for hanging art collections across your entire staircase wall.
· Hanging Picture Collections of Different Sizes and Orientations
Working with a varied collection and wondering how to arrange pictures on a wall? Organizing picture collections with different sizes and orientations may pose a challenge when it comes to finding the right height for installations. Simply start by placing your central piece, most often the largest piece, at the recommended centerline. You can then proceed to place the remaining pieces proportionately around it, creating either a symmetric or an asymmetric layout on your wall.
· Hanging Artworks above the Fireplace Mantel
The fireplace mantel makes for a great backdrop for hanging pictures. However, since fireplace mantels vary in height, it might not be possible to consistently place your artwork at eye level. As such, you can place your artwork 4 to 8 inches above the mantel, leaning towards 4 inches for taller mantels and 8 inches for shorter mantels. This allows for better distribution of the negative space.
· Finding the Picture Hanging Height When Working With Picture Wire
There is a variety of picture hanging hardware that you can use to hang picture collections and artworks onto your wall. You can use picture hanging systems, a picture hanger set with accompanying picture hook accessories, or picture wires, depending on how you prefer to maintain it.
A picture wire is wound around screws or strap hangers placed on each side of the picture frame. It is then hung onto a picture hook, nail, or screw on the wall. When working with a picture wire, you have to factor in the drop experienced when the wire is placed onto the hook. This will allow you to find the perfect height to hang artwork so that the final viewing height falls back to the recommended eye level.
To find the picture hanging height:
1. Find the total height of your artwork and halve it.
2. Hold the picture wire taught as though in a hanging position and measure the distance from the peak to the top of the picture frame to find the drop distance.
3. Subtract the drop distance from the value in step 1
4. Add your answer to the recommended eye level to find your picture hanging height and mark it on the wall.
This is the position onto which you will place your picture hooks and screws. Ensure you fix your screws onto wall studs, using a toggle bolt anchor on drywall whenever it is not possible to work with a wall stud.
· Positioning Your Art Lights
Recessed lights and track lights are often placed overhead on the ceiling, with track heads aimed at a 30-degree angle of incidence to the artwork. When working with picture lights, the distance between your light fixture and the top of the artwork should be the same as the standoff height. This often approximates to 7-inches. Adding art light accentuates your artworks and pictures, making them bolder and more vibrant, and drawing all the attention to the artwork.
Ideal Heights Vary with Location
The ideal height for hanging your pictures varies with the location at which it is placed. By applying the above principles, you will master how high to hang pictures in every circumstance, for a comfortable viewing experience.
Winny Okoth is a practicing Construction Project Manager and Interior Designer. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Construction Project Management. Winny Okoth has a great passion for every form of design and specializes in 3D visualizations for architectural and interior design.