Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Hanging pictures is a skillful and thoughtful undertaking, if your newly decorated walls are not to be battered with a multitude of misplaced nails. Here are our key tips to help you think about how to hang your art successfully.
The centre of the main piece should be at eye level, generally between 150-160cm from the floor and starting between 10-15cm above the back of a sofa or piece of furniture. It is important to see how the hanging relates to the overall space. When hanging two or more works together, you should treat them as one. A gap of at least 10cm between each is a good rule of thumb. It is important to create harmonious sight lines, whilst avoiding too many horizontals with any architectural detailing or pieces of furniture.
Creating groupings around a similar theme or colour will let them speak without causing contrasts. Anchor the wall with a main focal point, and then build around this with smaller works. Smaller pictures should be hung below larger ones so that they are more easily seen. It is sometimes helpful to lay the grouping out on a table or the floor so that you can arrange and create a pleasing visual balance before hanging on the wall, or draw an elevation for more complex arrangements. The more pictures the merrier: if you think 6, go for 12 or 18.
3. How to hang
The more traditional way to hang a piece of art is from a picture rail using chains, ribbons or picture wire. This can be especially effective if you have higher ceilings. For a more contemporary feel, the works can be attached directly to the walls using D rings and picture wire (see here), or left propped up against the wall.
In high traffic areas, the art should be secured at two points or use rubber pads along the bottom line so that the pictures do not shift position. A picture shelf can be a useful tool for expanding collections, allowing works to be stacked and rearranged without creating damage to the walls.
4. How to frame
The frame you chose can radically alter the artwork. When hanging a grouping, consistent frames will be a safer bet; it’s hard not to be successful. Smaller works can be enlarged and given more importance in larger frames. Larger works can sometimes be left unframed. One thing we like to do is to edge an unframed canvas with a coloured ribbon or add a painted border on the wall to create the illusion of a frame.
Anything that is light sensitive should be properly glazed with a non reflective UV glass. Non-reflective glass of at least 70% enormously enhances the quality of a framed picture.
5. Importance of stairways
The stairway is one of the main arteries in the home and people spend more time looking at what is on the walls of the stairs than in other rooms where the focus is on other things. Don’t save your most interesting works or budget for other areas and ignore this valuable space!
Have fun with your hanging. Pictures narrate a story of your life through your collecting. Let them speak.
The art in this post is from our London Restoration project.