How to arrange artwork on a wall

How to arrange artwork on a wall

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The type of art you choose to hang on your walls is a matter of personal taste. But there are general guidelines you can follow that will help you get the most out of displaying decorative art, photographs and groupings of wall hangings. Wall art can be displayed with a casual or formal look to match the overall decorating style. Proper proportions are also important to keep a balanced and harmonious look in the room.

Height and Scale

People typically tend to hang artwork too high. As a general rule of thumb, the center of the image should be at eye level, or about 60 inches from the floor. In areas where people are usually seated such as living rooms and dining rooms, the eye level guideline should be from a seated position. The artwork should also be in proportion to the furniture underneath. Generally, the artwork should never be longer than the furniture beneath it. A good size is about two thirds the size of the furniture. The size of the artwork should also not overpower the wall.

Grouping Arrangements

You can experiment with different arrangements of wall groupings by laying the frames on a large sheet of butcher paper on the floor. Rearrange the pictures until you are happy with the placement. Then trace around each frame. Now you can either hang the sheet of butcher paper on the wall to act as a template for where to hang each picture or you can cut each tracing out. Use painter’s tape to place the tracings on the wall, making adjustments as needed until you know exactly where each frame will go without filling the wall with holes.

Odd Numbers

Decorators often use what is known as the rule of three, which can be mixing three patterns together, using three colors or arranging three objects together. The theory is that odd numbers are more dynamic or more appealing than even numbers. An odd number of wall hangings can be grouped symmetrically, such as three evenly spaced frames hung in a horizontal row, or they can be grouped asymmetrically, such as a large frame with two smaller frames on one side.

Even Numbers

Wall art displayed in even numbers looks best when hung symmetrically. Even numbers also work well when hung within a larger geometrical shape such as a square or rectangle. The spacing between the items in the grouping should be narrower than the dimensions of each item in order for them to appear as a unified unit instead of individual, isolated units. Using identical mats and frames will give the grouping a cohesive look.

Line Arrangements

The proper use and balance of both horizontal and vertical lines affects the mood in a room. Artwork hung in a horizontal line tends to elongate and widen the wall, creating a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Artwork hung in a vertical line provides the illusion of height, for a more formal and refined appearance. Symmetry also provides a sense of formality. You can hang artwork in an asymmetrical, vertical grouping for a look that is refined yet casual.

Offset and Mixed Groupings

Some of the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements include groupings with assorted frame shapes, varying frame colors and offset placements. While variety creates visual interest, it’s still a good idea to have some type of unifying theme in a grouping of wall art. For example, you can display a gallery of mixed frame shapes such as rectangles, squares and ovals with all the frames being one color. Or you can display a group of tropical beach prints with different colored frames. Similar to the way odd numbers and asymmetrical groupings tend to be pleasing to the eye, wall art frames can be offset when hung in vertical or horizontal lines to add interest to the display.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

No room is complete without art and wall decor. It showcases your personality and makes a room feel like home. But art can be expensive and intimidating to buy. That’s why we love mixing things up and adding in unexpected elements to help fill a blank wall. One of our favorite, inexpensive tricks? Hang plates!

How to arrange artwork on a wall

1. Create a Collection

A dining room is an obvious place to showcase dinnerware. We recently suggested to one of our podcast listeners to take a piece of family china, and use it as a jumping off point for her dining room color scheme. Then we suggested she hang some of that china on her wall to tie the whole space together.

Let a family collection or favorite dinnerware pattern inspire the design of your whole space. Then use the china as a the focal point by arranging it on your wall for impact.

How to arrange artwork on a wall
2. Fill a Small Sliver

Every room has those tiny slivers of wall that seem useless. We like to dress them up with art, or in this case a collection of Bunny Williams’ Campbell House Dinnerware. Just a grouping down the wall adds color and interesting pattern to otherwise dead space.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

3. Above a Door

In her dining room in the Southern Living Idea House, interior designer Margaret Kirkland hung antique platters over the door. The pieces echoed the colors in the rest of the room. Pieces up high like this draw your eye up, making the whole space feel larger.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

4. Mixed into a Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are a fun way to use lots of small, special art pieces together to make a large impact. To break up lots of little squares, add in a plate. It’ll bring more movement and a break in shapes to your gallery wall.

How to arrange artwork on a wall
5. Over a Bed

Of course, plates don’t just belong in the dining room or kitchen. In this guest bedroom with two twin beds, we used a symmetrical grouping of dinnerware to echo the color palette of our bedding.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

6. Mixed with a Mirror

The rule of thumb for hanging wall decor over a mantel is that the art piece is roughly the same size as the firebox. In this living room, we chose our Rayne Mirror for it’s scalloped border and coppery-blue patina, but it’s on the small size. To fill out the proper amount of space, we surrounded the mirror in Bunny Williams’ Campbell House dinner and salad plates and a pasta bowl. Arranged symmetrically around the mirror, it adds weight, height, and pattern to the mantel.

How to arrange artwork on a wall
7. On a Backsplash

Because of their petite size, plates can easily tuck into narrow spaces, like a kitchen backsplash. Add more color to a neutral kitchen by displaying vintage dinnerware, platters, and bowls on your kitchen backsplash, especially over a hutch or in a butler’s pantry.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

8. Over a Kitchen Window

Kitchens can quickly feel cold and sterile what with all the stone, stainless steel, and cookware. Warm up a neutral kitchen by hanging some dinnerware over your kitchen window or in tight spaces. The color and pattern will create a more inviting space that you’ll want to spend time in.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

9. Around Your TV

Collections are a great way to inject your own personality into a space. We love the way interior designer Maggie Griffin used a collection of creamware in her breakfast room to add personality and interest around her TV.

On the podcast, we’re often discussing televisions and the merits of hiding them away or leaving them in plain sight. Maggie’s creamware collection is a great example of how to hang a television in plain sight.

Did you like this post and find it helpful? Rate it below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920’s craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it’s her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.

Amp up your home décor with perfectly placed frames.

The process of hanging a new painting or a collection of family photos can seem like a puzzle. Although there are pieces to examine, there isn’t just one correct way to put them together. As with every aspect of decorating, it helps to understand the basic principles first, then improvise—the most pleasing arrangement may be the one you least expect. First, set out the pictures you want to hang; prop them against the walls, and consider your options. Look at every reasonable possibility. Have someone hold a piece up to the wall while you stand back and appraise (just cover the hanging hardware with masking tape first to keep it from scratching the wall). If you are grouping several pieces together, arrange and rearrange them on the floor until you find a composition you like.

In most groupings, a common thread will tie the pieces together. Perhaps the pictures are part of a set or collection; if not, maybe the frames share the same style or the mats are all the same color. Sometimes, a grouping may not need a linking element; the only unifying theme may be its diversity. Such collections take a little more nerve and are best suited to a less formal room. As for precise positioning, conventional wisdom suggests that pictures be hung at eye level. This notion is a fine starting point, but hardly definitive. There are many good reasons to hang pieces above or below a standard height. In any setting, you will need to react to the architecture and the furniture; you will also need to follow your instincts. A few inches’ shift in a hanging arrangement can affect the tone of an entire room: Move the pictures over a sofa or chair down a bit; the area will become more cohesive, cozy, and inviting. Add an element of surprise to a room by hanging a little picture above the door. Emphasize a chair rail by running a series of photos right above it. Hang several small pieces just over a desk—they’ll provide a refreshing view when you look up from your work.

Learn to trust yourself. If it feels right, don’t be afraid to do something a little different.

Measuring and Essential Supplies

Don’t leave measurements to guesswork when you are hanging pictures; get out the tape measure and be exact. For most pictures, the only other tools you’ll need are a hammer, a screwdriver, and a carpenter’s level, preferably 24 inches long. When hanging something at an average eye level, position its center 57 to 60 inches from the floor. Use the following formula: Divide the height of the frame by two; from that number, subtract the distance from the top of the frame to the hanging hardware; add this number to 57, 58, 59, or 60. This final sum is the height (measured from the floor) at which the hangers should be put into the wall. If you’re going by instinct as opposed to eye level, you don’t need to be as rigorous in your measuring; if you are hanging a grid or a series of pieces, however, you will need to be precise to achieve even spacing.

When it’s time to hang your art, use the method that provides the most stability. It’s usually best to use two picture hangers, so pictures don’t swing or tilt. Install two D rings on the back of a frame, directly opposite each other. Once you’ve decided where you want to hang a picture, make a mark on the wall in pencil (on pieces of masking tape, if you wish) for each hook; use the level to make sure the marks are at the same height. If a room has a slightly sloping floor or ceiling, start by hanging the pictures level; if they look crooked, cheat just a bit so they look straight, even if they’re not. In a case like this, you may want to string picture wire between the D rings; still, hang it from two hooks, unless the picture is very small. Decorative picture-hanging hardware, such as vintage hooks or French rods, can add another design element to a single picture or grouping.

One more essential consideration is restraint. You’ll want to leave some blank wall space in a room so the eye can rest; what’s not there will allow you to appreciate what is.

How to Arrange an Eclectic Group

Mismatched elements are more of a challenge to hang than a set of identical prints in similar frames, but the results can be compelling and really make a room. Sketches, oil paintings, architectural renderings, a display of cameos, and a decorative wall bracket could be arranged in a free-form, asymmetrical grouping, giving the living room the look of a comfortable parlor. The frames are varied, but all share a somewhat formal feel. If the pieces were hung higher, they would appear to be floating away; the sofa, just a few inches below, anchors them gracefully.

Before putting a hole in the wall, establish the arrangement of pictures and pieces. Lay them out on the floor and up against a wall or piece of furniture; move them until the results suit you. For a grouping like this, the spacing doesn’t need to be even but try to avoid unbroken “rivers” of space running horizontally or vertically between pictures. A carpenter’s level is an indispensable tool. If you are using two D rings to hang a picture from two picture hangers, mark the spots for the hardware on the wall, and use the level to be sure they’re even; adjust as necessary before putting hardware in the wall. If you are using one or two picture hangers and wire strung on the back of the frame, hang the picture, and then use the level to make it straight.

How to Create Symmetry Among Prints

The arrangement of pictures on a wall has as much impact as the pictures themselves. A precise grid gives a graphic, formal look; a group of pictures hung within a set square or rectangle has order to it, but is instantly more casual, ideal for a family room or kitchen. Rows of pictures can be aligned at their centers, tops, or bottoms with very different results. Whether you’re working with a grouping of pictures or just one, artwork should generally be centered horizontally between two points, which makes a room feel balanced.

A strong center line ties together contemporary photographs in frames of different sizes, left. Jagged lines on the top and bottom accentuate the arrangement. Two pieces of string stretched taut between pushpins provide a guide for even spacing. This technique is also useful for hanging pictures along a staircase: Mark a spot on the wall the same distance from the top step and the bottom step, and run the string between these points. Use a D ring on each side of a frame for secure picture hanging. But don’t estimate measurements; always use a tape measure. Here, the space from the top of the frame to the D ring matches the space from the string guide to the picture hanger.

Here’s how to create one of your own.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Look, we all love a good gallery wall. But in the same maximalist spirit that moves me to constantly find new places to wallpaper, I’ve often thought, “what else could I hang on my wall?” While art is a necessary staple of any home, that art doesn’t have to be confined to paintings and prints in frames—there are plenty of other objects to add to your decor. Take, for example, plates.

People have been hanging plates on walls for essentially as long as decorative plates have existed. After all, with the fine craftsmanship and detailed painting on Limoges and other porcelain, these pieces are just as much works of art as useful serving pieces. From England to France to the American South, tabletop lovers have long hung plates on the wall both as a form of decoration and, sometimes, a clever storage option.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

No one knows this better than John Derian, designer, shop owner, and decoupage artist extraordinaire. He has earned a cult following for his decorative plates, featuring repurposed motifs from vintage books and prints. Too pretty to eat off, Derian’s plates make the perfect fodder for a decorative wall. So, when his company generously sent me an array of plates after I moved into my new apartment, I set out to create a plate wall of my own. Here’s how I did it.

Don’t have a stash of plates lying around? Try tag sales or Etsy for sets of inexpensive dinnerware you can use for this project.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

1. Measure your background

Find the bare wall (or section of wall) where you want to hang your plates, and measure out the width and height of the area you want to cover. This will be the canvas for your wall art.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

2. Arrange your plates

Using your measurements as a guide, lay out your plates on the floor or a surface the correct size, moving around until you get an arrangement you like. Tip: If you’re using plates of varying sizes and shapes, vary them throughout, but keep larger pieces towards the bottom so the arrangement doesn’t feel top-heavy.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

3. Tape out your plan

Using blue painters tape, translate the arrangement on the table or floor to the wall. I find it easiest to start by measuring the placement of the center piece, then working out from there for the others, mapping out the distance between each plate and its size to get a mock up on the wall.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

4. Attach hangers

The big difference between framed art and plates is that art—since it’s created to hang on a wall—usually comes with a wire or hanger. Plates, obviously, do not. That’s where your new best friend comes in: plate hanging wires. Get the kind with springs, so they’ll hold your plate tightly, and with coated edges, so they won’t crack or chip them. The wires come in various sizes for every kind of plate, and most come with hooks and nails to hang them on. Attach the wires to the plates.

5. Hang!

Now it’s time to hang! For each plate, measure the distance from the top of the plate to the wire that will catch on the hook behind it, then nail a hook into the wall that same place on your taped outline of the plate. Tip: If you live in an older building and your walls tend to shake a lot when you hammer into them, nail in all the hooks before hanging all the plates.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

How to arrange artwork on a wall

6. Adjust if needed

Even the best DIYers make mistakes, and despite your measuring, something might look a bit off when all is said and hung. If so, don’t be afraid to adjust, swapping plates or moving the hooks a bit—your plates will likely cover any extra holes!

And voilà! Now you have a new kind of wall art.

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How Big Are the Large Wall Art Pieces?

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Wall Art Sizes Chart

48×24, 48×36, 48×48, 50×40, 54×36, 60×30, 60×40, 71×19

Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom

In a collage, mix in non-art pieces, such as a clock, tapestry or mirror.

14×11, 16×12, 24×12, 18×14, 16×16, 20×16, 20×20, 22×18

How Do I Measure My Space for a Large Wall Art Gallery?

Whether you are styling for wall art or a new sofa, measuring (not estimating!) your space is essential to knowing which pieces will work best for you.

  1. If you are just itching to dress up any unused wall space in your home with chic wall art – but are unsure exactly which size will work best – then measure it. With a measuring tape, carefully take down the dimensions of the height of your wall, from floor to ceiling.
  2. Next, if there is a sofa, chair or other piece of furniture arranged against the wall, measure the distance from the floor to the top of the furniture, and subtract the measurement from the wall’s height. This will give you a general idea of how tall the collage can be.

To get a sense of how wide the collage can be, measure the entire width of the wall, from corner to corner.
Remember, too, that a general rule of thumb is to arrange art no closer than ten inches from the ceiling, corners or tops of furniture. This will help to keep a breezy feel and prevent an overcrowded appearance.

Which Large Wall Art Subject Type Is Best for My Space?

For many of us, the road to a complete gallery wall is a long and tricky one. It often starts with a blank wall and comes to an abrupt stop with a pile of frameless art and photography.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Finding the perfect frame is often the point where many of us give up on designing a gallery wall. Our recommendation? Stick to something simple (like our Wood Gallery Frames) and let your art shine.

Once you’ve (finally) framed your art, it’s time to move on to the hard part: hanging it. I know, it sounds easy — just hammer a nail into the wall, right? — but prep and planning is key to a successful gallery wall. Once you start hammering away, there’s no turning back.

We’ve pulled together six of our favorite styles to setting up a gallery wall — from the simple grid to the step-by-step staircase style. Take a look at our detailed diagrams of each style, below, along with our favorite Pottery Barn examples.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Spiral: Start with a center frame, and spiral out the rest of your frames from there.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Don’t forget to maintain an even amount of space between each frame for consistency.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Centered: This simple layout requires minimal effort. Just choose one or two frames to center and align the left and right sides with one another.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

We think this works particularly well if you’re trying to highlight particular pieces of art.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Outer Align: You’ll want to make sure all of the outer frames are aligned for this layout.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Note that the center frames will meet slightly closer together at the right and left sides.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Reflection: Create order out of chaos with this arrangement!

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Don’t worry about arranging by size — when everything’s matched up and aligned at the center, the display makes perfect sense.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Staircase: Staircase gallery walls require a slightly different approach.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Hang your frames following the same upward angle of the staircase.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

Nine Square: Don’t dismiss the simple grid.

How to arrange artwork on a wall

It’s a basic arrangement, but it makes a big impact!

How to arrange artwork on a wall

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

If you’re not sure how high to hang art on your walls, you’re not alone. These tips offer helpful ideas and designer secrets for getting the best look when hanging artwork.

Hanging a Picture at Eye Level

You may have heard that you should hang artwork so the center of the picture is at eye level. This tip sounds easy enough until you consider that eye level for you may not be eye level for other people in your household. It also doesn’t take into consideration gallery walls, pieces of art hung above furniture, or frames in especially large or small sizes. The advice to hang pictures at eye level for the average person, or between 60 and 65 inches from the floor, is a good guideline, but by no means is it a hard-and-fast rule.

Consider How Art Relates to Everything Around It

A better approach is to weigh a few different factors to determine the proper height to hang pictures. Think of the artwork you’re hanging and its relationship to its surroundings. Whether you hang a framed picture over a sofa, on a stairway wall, or in the entryway, each of these spaces has unique elements to consider.

Here are more tips on hanging art in your home:

Hallways and entryways: Will you mostly be standing in the room? If so, it may make sense to hang artwork a bit higher than the 60–65-inch center starting point–especially if the ceiling is tall.

Rooms with seats: In a room where you generally sit down (a dining room, family room, or office), hang pictures a bit lower, so they can be enjoyed at a lower viewing angle. Sit in a chair and have someone hold the picture against the wall, moving it up and down so you can evaluate the look.

Consider size: A large framed piece over a sofa or sideboard relates more easily when hung so the bottom of the frame is positioned six-to-12 inches above the top of the sofa back or tabletop. This won’t work, however, if your artwork is very small. In that case, consider hanging the piece in a group of other objects such as plates, mirrors, or decorative items.

Gallery walls: When working with a grouping of pictures or objects hung on a wall, think of the grouping as one large picture and relate the bottom of the entire grouping to the furniture underneath it.

Vertical art: Does the center rule apply if you are hanging a tall vertical picture, panel, or poster? In this case, it may be better to think about placing the art so the top third of the picture is near eye level. However, the actual height of the piece will determine the best position on the wall. Again, have someone hold it lower and higher so you can see what looks best.

Small pictures: What about hanging small pictures? A small picture hung on a large wall can look out of balance. Look for narrow walls (such as the spaces between two doorways or windows) and consider hanging two or three small pictures in a vertical line. In this case, treat the center picture as the center of the grouping.

Use templates: If you’re hanging artwork by yourself, cut paper templates to size for each piece of art and attach the paper cutouts to the wall with painter’s tape. This will give you the option to stand back and see how the artwork’s size relates to your room and your furniture. Move the template up and down to find the perfect spot prior to hanging the picture.

Rather than only going by the eye level rule, always view artwork in relation to a room’s furnishings. Take the time to try out various heights and locations before you punch holes in the wall for picture hooks.

What is the right size?

As a general rule of thumb, your picture should not be wider than the couch as this will overwhelm the furniture rather than enhancing it. In order to create balance in your space, your artwork or gallery should be close to 2/3 the length of the couch.

How high should I hang my picture?

When hanging above a couch, the bottom of your artwork or frame should hang 8” to 10” above the back of the sofa. It is important to hang your artwork low enough so you can enjoy it while you are sitting.

How far apart should pieces be spaced in a gallery?

When hanging a grouping of pictures, you should leave 2” to 5” between each frame for a balanced look.

Our SpacingStrips™ make it super easy to precisely space the frames in your gallery. As shown below, you can use SpacingStrips to achieve a spacing of 2” or 4” depending on your preference.

What should I use to hang my artwork?

At UTR Decorating we have designed a number of products that make picture hanging easy regardless of whether you want to hang a picture frame or canvas. Our CanvasHangers install in the top two corners of your canvas, using our Place&Push® technology. This product design allows you to easily place, level and push your canvas into the drywall for a secure hold. Your canvas will hang flush to the wall for a professional look.

If you are hanging a picture frame, our Hang & Level™ makes it easy to visually place your items and mark where the nail should go, which eliminates mistake holes. Once you have marked the perfect spot, you can use our DécoNails™ , which are specifically designed for securely hanging items up to 20 lbs in drywall.

Under The Roof Decorating’s mission is to empower self-expression, and we do that by designing innovative décor products that help you Create the home you love™.

We believe everyone should have a home they love that reflects who they are and what they care about. It’s our job at UTR to design the products they use to do that quickly, easily and on their own.

UTR Decorating products are available online and at most Target, Lowe’s and The Home Depot stores in the USA. Discover the joy of decorating, not the frustration of the process.