How to Hang Art at the Right Height

One of my pet peeves is art hung too high on a wall and, unfortunately, it happens all too often.  I know you’ve seen it too, the wall art requiring you to tilt your head back to look up at it or the piece that floats so high above the sofa that it has no relationship to the furniture or the rest of the room.   The following photos illustrate my point:

Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.
Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.

 

 

Art should be only about 10" from the back of the sofa instead of way up on the wall.
Art should be only about 8″ from the back of the love seat instead of way up on the wall. Art on the left near the window is also above eye level. Take a look clear into the back room and you’ll see still another way-too-high piece of art.

 

 

Art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at eye level.
Look up – this art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at viewable eye level.

 

 

Whose Eye Level?

Many of you have probably heard the rule about hanging art at “eye level.”  Hmmm, but if you’re 5’5″ tall and living with someone who is 6’4″ (hope you don’t mind my using you as an example, Terrie!), whose eye level do you use?  A simple rule of thumb for hanging art is to place the centerpoint of the art at 60″ to 63″ above the floor.  From there you can adjust accordingly for the overall height of the ceiling or height of the furniture over which the art will hang.  This measurement provides a great base-line starting point and a good foundation for staying away from the too-high syndrome.

To find the centerpoint of the art piece measure the full height of the piece (if framed include the frame in the measurement) and divide by 2.  Then measure the full width of the piece and divide by 2.  The point at which these measurements intersect is the centerpoint of the art piece.

Arranging More Than One Art Piece

If you plan to hang a grouping lay all of the items out on the floor and move them around until you find a desireable arrangement or make cut-to-size paper shapes of each item and use painter’s tape to post them on the wall.   Once you’ve figured out the format for your grouping,  find the centerpoint by measuring the height and width of the overall arrangement, treating it as if it were a single piece.   Use the centerpoint of the entire grouping as your starting point for hanging the arrangement and build out from it.

 

Use cut-to-size templates or your art with painter's tape to experiment with placement.  Photo bhg.com.
Use cut-to-size templates of your art with painter’s tape to experiment with placement. Photo bhg.com.

 

 

Hanging Height

After determining your art’s centerpoint you must figure out where to to place the hanger so the art’s centerpoint ends up at the correct height.  If your art has picture wire installed on the back, pull up on the center of the wire and measure how high the wire peaks from the centerpoint of your art piece.   If the wire peaks 4″ above the centerpoint of the art then add 4″ to your 60″ eye level height for a total of 64″.  On the wall where you want your art installed measure up from the floor and put a light pencil mark at 64″.  This is the point at which you place the hook portion of your picture hanger. Tip: If you have a large or heavy piece of art you may want to use two hangers instead of one for added safety and stability.  To do this hold the wire in two places (separated by about half the width of the art) to find how high the wire peaks, add the peak measurement to the 60″ eye level height and place your two hanger hooks at these points.

If your art piece has two loops or hanging bars instead of wire, measure their height and distance left or right from the art’s centerpoint.   Then mark these points up and over from the 60″ eye level mark and place the hangers accordingly.  Double check to make certain both hooks are the same height by using a level.

Measure Twice Hang Once

A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art - use it often!
A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art – use it often!

 

You’ve heard the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”  Good advice for carpenters and seamstresses – and adaptable to hanging art as “measure twice, nail once.”  A tape measure like the one pictured above helps you save your walls from endless holes by measuring before nailing:

  • Measure your art vertically and horizontally and divide each measurement by 2 in order to find its centerpoint
  • Measure 60″ from the floor up the wall for placement of your art centerpoint and lightly mark the spot with pencil or chalk
  • Measure the hanging wire peak, or the location of loops or bars on the back of your art, and mark them lightly on the wall in relation to your art centerpoint mark
  • Nail your picture hanger so the hook(s) is on the designated marks you made after measuring

Here’s to hanging your art and enjoying the view without a crick in your neck!  You’re on your way to conquering one of the biggest decorating mistakes.

Now that we’ve discussed the right height for hanging art, in tomorrow’s post I’ll continue the discussion with where to hang your art.  Be sure to check back or, better yet, sign up for a free e-mail subscription and the post will be delivered to your inbox!

 

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