Q. Dear Anna: We’ve recently painted our home and all our artwork is stacked up waiting to be hung. Do you have any ideas about how we can hang our art effectively?
I sure do. Hanging artwork properly is essential for creating a beautiful, comfortable room. Here are some tips:
- Select artwork that complements the style and mood of the room. Is the room modern or country-style? Is the color scheme peaceful and soothing or vibrant and energetic? These elements are clues as to which type of art would best suit the room. Try muted floral watercolors in a tranquil bedroom and colorful abstract paintings in a contemporary living room. You can certainly mix styles if you wish, but if you do, make sure the pieces relate to each other in some way—theme or color, for example.
- Hang large pieces first, and then fill in with smaller pieces. Make sure the size of the art fits the size and orientation of the wall. For instance, a long wide wall will accommodate a large horizontally oriented piece of art. A narrow wall would be best with a vertically oriented piece. Over a sofa, usually a large horizontal piece looks best, but two smaller pieces can also work well, as can a grouping of several smaller pieces.
- When hanging art above furniture, consider the size of the furniture piece. For example, a painting should not be wider than the sofa or chest below it. In general, a painting should be about 75% of the width of the furniture below it. And a good rule of thumb is to hang art so that the bottom of the frame is 6-10 inches above the piece of furniture.
- Be sure to relate the art to the furnishings in the room. A painting with some red in it will look great near a chair upholstered in the same red, if the theme is appropriate. When hanging art above a table, place something on the table that relates to the art in terms of color or theme. For example, a bouquet of sunflowers would look wonderful next to a watercolor print of sunflowers. And if you have an accent wall in your room, hang a piece of artwork on the opposite or adjacent wall that contains a fair amount of that accent color. That will help bring the eye around the room.
- Don’t hang pictures too high! If you have to look up to see the picture, it is too high. I won’t say hang it at “eye level” because it depends on the situation. The important thing is to relate it to the furnishings around it. In a dining room, the painting should be at eye level to people sitting at the table. In a hallway, the paintings should be at eye level when standing. Some pictures might actually be hung lower than eye level, such as under a lamp and above a nightstand. In general, my rule of thumb is to make sure the center of the artwork hangs at 60”-65” up from the floor, regardless of how tall you are. Start there and adjust accordingly.
- Usually art looks better than a mirror on a mantel. Mantels are often too high for mirrors to be effective. You do not want to reflect your ceiling in the mirror. Hang mirrors where they will reflect something attractive, for instance opposite a picture window or a piece of art.
Of course, artwork is so very personal, so please take don’t take this advice too seriously—if you love certain pieces, please hang them! Even if it “breaks a rule,” your home should make you happy.