Hang ‘Em High..Not TOO High

28 Apr

CONFESSION TIME:  One of my biggest pet peeves is artwork hung incorrectly.  And by this I mean too high, too low, staggered when there is no reason for staggering ( i.e., up a staircase wall ), etc.   While there are no set rules when it comes to hanging artwork, there are guidelines.  Knowledge is power, ya’ll, and you’ll thank me for it when my eyes aren’t twitching uncontrollably when I come over and see how your artwork is hung.  I’m too polite to say anything, though.. I am a Southern girl, after all.

Guideline #1:  Normal height for  hanging artwork is to center it at eye level. 

But whose eye level?  You may be 4’11” but your husband is 6’4″– how do you decide?  Law of averages, my friends.   I’m 5’5″ ( ok, 5’4 1/2″ ), so my eye level is actually spot on.  The safest height at which to hang artwork is 60″ from the center of the artwork to the floor.

I couldn’t resist adding in this image from Traditional Home ( via House of Turquoise ).  Recognize the work of our very own Pick of the Crop artist, Christina Baker?!  Girl’s got skilz.

Guideline #2:  Use picture hooks and D-rings for hanging whenever possible



Plain ol’ nails might be super cheap, but picture hooks are the best way to go to get your artwork to hang levelly and securely.  The weight of a piece of artwork will drag down a nail, but the picture hooks are designed to set the nail at an angle so that the laws of physics hold the picture up, instead of putting all the weight on the nail.  There are different size hooks available according to the weight of what you’re hanging, so if you’re in doubt about the weight, go with the heaviest weight hook so you’ll be sure your artwork won’t fall on someone’s head.. or toes.

D-ring hanger

D-rings are God-sends for hanging artwork and should be used instead of wire, if possible.   Simply install two d-rings at the same horizontal level on the back of the picture frame.  It’s true, you’ll need to put two holes in the wall instead of one, but your artwork will be more secure and won’t have that annoying habit of going crooked anytime it get’s bumped a little or someone closes a door a bit too hard.

Guideline #3:  When hanging multiple pieces together, be aware of the space between them and how they relate to each other

If you’re hanging a pair or series of artwork above a piece of furniture, measure and treat the pieces as if you were hanging one solid piece– taking into account a bit of space between them and center the overall size horizontally above the furniture and center each piece vertically at 60″.

Guideline #4:  Some rules were made to be broken

Not Guideline #2, the picture hook thing is always important, not just for aesthetics, but for safety.  The other two, however, might be flexible depending on the situation.

  • Broken rule #1– It is OK to hang artwork lower ( or higher, I guess, though this is less common ) than eye level if it helps the work relate to its surroundings

  • Broken rule #2– Sometimes extending a grouping of work outside of the borders of a piece of furniture or other furnishing helps the artwork to make more sense within the room, as in the case of the room below.  In this instance, more is more, yes?

  • Broken rule #3– The rules are, there are no rules.. Sometimes the positioning of artwork doesn’t really need to relate to the surroundings at all.. randomness & asymmetry can be beautiful!  If done well, of course. 

If you ever find yourself unsure of how to hang your latest acquisition, I hope these guidelines are helpful.  If you’re really stuck, drop me a line– I’m happy to help!  Happy hanging!

6 Responses to “Hang ‘Em High..Not TOO High”

  1. Kenneth Hamilton April 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Very good tips!

  2. Kento Rugg June 24, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Had the wierdest dream this am, about a collector who fancied herself a designer, and had all of her pieces hung way too high (like a couple inches from the 9 or 10′ ceilings). Even salon style crammed in, as though to fill the space to the brim. I do a lot of hanging in & around Santa Fe, NM, and was somewhat boggled by this dream, then to stumble across your blog here… gotta keep my eyes open today. No coinkidinks.

    Anyway, I like your suggestions, though being 5’8″, with eye level about 64″, that tends to be my standard. There are many homes out here with big light, not comfy, compact southern style, but open & high-walled contemporary, so this seems to work. I always consider the heights of my clients, of course. Again, thanks!
    Peace, Kento.

    • Lesley June 24, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks for commenting, Kento! When I worked for 5 years doing art consulting in corporate & healthcare settings, many of our installations were on blank walls down hallways or around the perimeter of cubicle filled office floors, so 60″ worked great. Every installation is different, though, as you point out and yes, heights of residential clients should always be taken into account. I have a friend doing some art consulting in the Santa Fe area, so funny that you should stumble upon my blog!

  3. m.a.tateishi July 22, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Wow, I’ve been wiring my work for years and never knew that d-rings were used for hanging. I usually use them for attaching my wire, but now I see if I do both (d-rings on back, with wire through them) it would give people two options for hanging.
    I will do so! Thanks Lesley.

    • Lesley July 22, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      So glad to be of service! 😉 I much prefer d-rings for hanging, even though it means more than one whole in the wall. Crooked artwork drives me crazy!


  1. HAS Art Solutions - April 28, 2011

    […] High but not too high… […]

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