Decorating Tips: How to Hang Artwork

Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper by Charles C. Ebbets

Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper by Charles C. Ebbets


You’ve purchased some wonderful art prints at Framed Art Decor, where you also had them expertly framed and now you can’t wait to hang them.

“Oh,” you say, “I need to hang them… how do you do that again?”

No sweat, but you need to stay focused. Poorly hung artwork would make even the Mona Lisa look cheesy.

Assuming that your lighting has been thought through, and you know that your art will be clearly visible when displayed in their desired locations, there are some simple steps to follow in order to hang them like an expert.

Keep in mind that the rules for hanging artwork are flexible according to your needs and preferences, but this information will be a handy guide from which to work.

Planning- first things first.

Put your artwork on the floor and lean it against the wall where it will be hung. You can do this with all the artwork for your room at one time if you have more than one piece to hang.

Envision how people will be viewing the artwork. Will they mostly be sitting down?

Most people hang their artwork too high. If you imagine a halfway horizontal line across your artwork, that central line would be considered eye level. This is the desirable plane on which to view artwork.

How high or low on the wall you wish to display your artwork may vary according to the average height of those viewing the art. If people will be seated when viewing the art, then the height of the center vision line would need to be lowered to accommodate the approximation of eye level for sitting people.

56” from the floor to the center line is a good place from which to start, but raising it or lowering it according to the elements in the room and how people will view the artwork should be taken into consideration.

If you have two or more smaller pieces of art, they can be hung in two rows, one on top of the other with the eye level line halfway between them, which would be approximately 3”to 4”. Larger paintings would require at least 6” to 8” between them.

A smaller piece of art can be hung over a slightly larger one. The eye level line for this group would be halfway between the top of the smaller piece to the bottom of the slightly larger piece including the 3” to 4” dividing space.

Hanging a single piece of artwork:

Measure the halfway line from the top of your artwork to its bottom including the frame. That measurement cut in half is the artwork’s center line. If possible, a small mark can be made on the back of the artwork to indicate the center line. A piece of tape will do as well.

Now, measure the distance from the floor to a point up on the wall at 56”. This may be more or less, according to your needs. Put a mark in pencil on the wall at that point.

Stretch the picture hanger wire on the back of your artwork up to a point as if there where a picture hanger holding it. Measure the point from the center line of the artwork to the top of the stretched picture hanger wire.

The measurement of distance from the floor to the point you placed on the wall plus the distance between the center line on your artwork and the top of the stretched picture hanger wire is where the picture hanger will be placed on the wall.

Some paintings might require more than one picture hook. These can be spaced about 3” apart. Large paintings should have a picture hanger hook in from each end of the wire about 6” to 8”.

Hanging a smaller art piece over a little larger one:

Add the measurement of the height of the two paintings plus the 3” to 4” dividing space that will be between them. Cut that measurement in half, which gives you the visual center line for the two pieces.

Now, measure the distance from the floor to the point on the wall at approximately 56” and mark it in pencil.

Take the smaller painting which will be above the other. Stretch its picture hanger wire up to a point where the picture hanger will hold it when it hangs on the wall. Measure the distance between that point on the picture hanger wire and the top of the painting.

Take the measurement of the horizontal center line for the two paintings and subtract the measurement from the stretched picture hanger to the top of the smaller painting. The resulting amount is then added to 56”. This gives you the measurement of where to put the top picture hanger on the wall. Mark it on the wall in pencil.

Once the smaller art piece is hung on the wall, take the larger painting and stretch its picture hanger wire up at the central point where its picture hanger will hold it. Measure that point to the top of the larger art piece.

Add the measurement of the stretched picture hanger to the top of the artwork plus 3” to 4” for the dividing space between the two paintings. The resulting number of inches is measured down from the bottom of the top art piece and marked on the wall. Make sure the mark for the bottom picture hanger is aligned with the top picture hanger. This is where the hanger will be placed for the lower piece of art on the wall.

Hanging two rows of smaller paintings:

Groupings of artwork can be very decorative and dramatic.

Planning is important when hanging art in groups. Are there six pictures in two rows, or eight pictures in two rows, etc.? The vertical center line may fall between two paintings or in the center of two paintings depending on how many are in the group. Working out from center may be helpful to ensure proper placement.

Assuming the overall design of the grouping is appropriately worked out for the wall space, hanging smaller pictures in two rows is the same as hanging a larger picture under a smaller one, as earlier described.

For small pictures that are the same size, the center vision line is in the halfway point between the top piece of art and the bottom one. Horizontally, the pictures need to have a space approximately 3” to 4” between them.

Horizontal hanging of more than one piece of artwork requires the measurement of the width of one of the small pictures added to the measurement of the space between the pictures. This distance is what is needed to hang the next picture hanger hook to the right or left.

To keep the artwork level, the measurement from the floor to the picture hanger hook remains the same from one to the other unless pictures are along a stairway.

Hanging artwork along stairways:

Artwork should be aligned with the center of each stair and probably no more than about 5’ from the stair to the center vision line of the painting.

Hanging artwork at alternating heights:

What looks best for artwork that alternates in height within a grouping is that the top of one picture is on the same plane as the bottom of the picture next to it. This creates a straight line from which each piece either goes up or down.

Hanging a line of artwork on one wall:

If all the artwork is the same size on a wall, the eye goes to the overall consistency of shapes and frames, rather than the artwork itself. It is best to hang different sized pieces together in a long line so the eye tends to rest on each piece individually.

Some artwork hangs in two or three pieces connected as one concept called a diptych or triptych. They would be an exception to this guideline.

Spatial effects:

Small masterful or dramatic pieces of artwork may be best hung with a lot of space around them. Otherwise they get lost in the artwork surrounding them. Museums often offer small important artwork a whole wall for viewing, and keep it low on the wall.

To make walls look higher, keep the artwork slightly lower. To make the ceiling lower, hang the artwork a bit higher.

Picture hanging systems:

All you have to do is Google picture hanging systems, to find an array of hanging systems for artwork that support flexibility and ease. If the artwork in a space is always revolving such as in corporate offices, galleries, hospitals and government buildings, upgraded picture hanging systems would be a great option.

Some people have an eye for hanging art.

Those souls who are brave enough to hang artwork completely by eye, often have a group of holes behind their artwork where they were either too far to one side, or too high or low. This is one method to hang art, however, good planning and consistent good habits bring much better results.


Framed Art Decor offers hundreds of museum quality art prints, photographic prints and posters to view and purchase at their website. Expert framing assistance for artwork is offered through the use of an online tool which shows each print in a choice of frames with just a click. Articles on Decorating topics, artists and their artwork are available on the website.

Leagh Janell is passionate about fine art and decorating. His 30 years as a fine artist and decorative artist for a high profile clientele have afforded him some authority in those fields. At present, Mr. Janell writes for Framed Art Decor.


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