The art of hanging


Artwork is a great way to add interest to a room and is an integral part of making your home unique and special. Over the years I have spent a lot of time advising clients on how best to display artwork, photographs and keepsakes. Here are some of my foolproof tips on how to arrange your artwork for maximum impact.

#1: Hang artwork at eye level

Some people cringe when they see a picture crooked but for me it bothers me when I see pictures and pieces of art hung too high. Whether suspended to high above a bed or a sofa, or just awkwardly sitting above eye level on a wall, it’s the most common art hanging mistake but also the easiest to fix.

Take a walk through your home and see whether it is worth nudging a few pieces down a bit. The centre of the image should be at eye level and in living rooms where most people are usually sitting, artwork should be lower. An easy way to ensure you’re placing artwork at the right height is to hang it one hands width above the sofa.


#2: Use the size of your artwork to add interest 

If you have a piece of art, or picture, that is too small it can simply look out of place.  This can often be resolved by reframing it in a much thicker frame or a double mount. But you don’t always have to strike the most perfect proportion when hanging art. If you’re going to do something out of scale to the rest of the room, make it obviously out of scale with the room. Either make it too large or too small so that it appears intentional. Unexpected artwork sizing can add real interest to a space.

When deciding where to hang pictures in your home, consider the wall space available and the arrangement of the room. Use small pieces between windows and doors and for larger pieces, allow room for people to step back and admire.

#3. Make your artwork stand out through colour

Art allows you to break free from the confines of color palettes, so don’t get stuck into thinking you can only display art that has a mix of colors that are in the rest of the room. Be brave and make your picture stand out and bring the hint of colour that you weren’t bold enough to use in soft furnishings to lift a space!


The art of hanging art

#4: Level multiple pieces through the middle

Hanging multiple pieces around a room can be difficult, especially when walls, doorways, or windows separate the pieces. Don’t try to level the tops, or bottoms, of all of the frames – always level the middle of the pictures. Artwork often collaborates with other accessories and decor to create a visual story. Make sure everything works together including the mouldings, shelves and ledges.

Only the very lucky can hang pictures blind and end up with the best overall look. It doesn’t matter what methods or tricks you use, just use one that will allow you to get the feel of your wall collage before you litter your wall with lots of nail holes. Save yourself the frustration of hanging, and rehanging individual pieces by planning your layout first. You can do this by tracing each piece onto paper, label each one and then cut them out. If you’re hanging portraits, draw arrows on the paper to indicate which way the subject is looking. Use masking tape to try out arrangements without covering your wall with holes.

Visual balance is important, so when grouping artwork always keep heavy pieces to the bottom and to the left as this balances the weight of the items. This is because the eye starts scanning from the left. If you have an even arrangement, put the heaviest piece in the middle.

When creating a grouping, choose an odd number of items as there is always a middle and mirror image on both sides!


Level multiple art pieces through the middle when hanging

#5: Avoid areas of water and heat when hanging artwork in kitchens

In kitchens, hang art in a place where it won’t get damaged by water or heat. Consider placing art above a preparation area, near the dining table or above an open counter space. Some designers avoid kitchen art in the kitchen but I do like to see a picture of food in the kitchen, especially in different mediums such as ceramics or even textiles – for example Kate Jenkins croquet fish and chips artwork (see below).


#6: Connect the art with your interior sceme

Don’t worry if a floor lamp or chair is in front of a piece of art and you can’t quite see it. Try and connect your art with the rest of the room as this will add layers to your scheme. I sometime overlap photographs when displaying them on open shelves to give that layered look.


#7: Hang your art securely

It is really important that you work out how best to hang your picture and what hardware you will require. You don’t have to bolt every picture to the wall, but don’t have it on the tilt every time someone slams the door or brushes past it. I often secure heavy pictures with screw-in fixings using a raw plug, and with large canvases I will use two screws rather than one so that it hangs straight.



#8: Don’t just stick to your walls

Leaning artwork up against a wall isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t experiment with different places to put art, you’re missing out. Next time you’re feeling restless, lean a few pieces of art against the back of your sofa, on a shelf, or on top of your dresser or side board.


#9: Make your family photographs take pride of place

Remember those days when you couldn’t wait to pick up your anticipated prints from Snappy Snaps and you were proud to display them on your mantelpiece! Thanks to social media we are taking more photographs than ever before, but they only seem to get a few moments to shine before they disappear onto our hard drives never to be seen again!

From childhood snaps and wedding photos, to the pictures you’ve taken on your travels, these are the images that can bring you a little piece of happiness every day and turn your house into a home. I know many people believe that personal photos have no place in the public areas of a home but I love looking at other people’s photos – wedding portraits, photos from a recent holiday or old snaps from childhood. They’re conversation fodder, and in my opinion, help make a house feel loved and lived in.

When putting a display of photos together, take the time to select a group of images you think work well together and with your décor.

Putting this blog together has prompted me to go through my photographs on the computer and iPhone and have the best ones framed before the year is out!