Friday, November 8, 2013

The Secret to Perfect Picture Hanging: How To Make Your Home an Art Gallery

Are you oddly pedantic about arranging the artwork in your home? Like you I'm slightly OCD and derive ample nerdy pleasure from creating a pleasing composition in a room... So I'm shocked I haven't heard about hanging items at "gallery" or "eye" height until recently.


The rule is simple, you hang your artwork in your home so that the center is 57" off the ground, an average for eye-level. This gives harmony to all the pieces in your home visually, helps you curate a cohesive collection, and allows visitors to view each piece with the same ease they'd view artwork in a gallery.


The Formula is thus: Measure the height of the art piece, then divide this in half. Add this amount to 57". Measure the distance from the taut wire or hook in the back to the top of your art piece. then subtract that amount from the total and this is where you'll add your nail to the wall to hang your piece at perfect eye-height.

Artwork height divided in half  + 57 - Distance from hook to the top of art

The same formula applies for an art grouping. Arrange the collection on the floor first, then measure this grouping from the top to the bottom. Divide that number in half to hang the whole group at eye-height.


My brain shut down, as it always shamefully does, when I saw the math. But when you put it into practice it's alarmingly simple. Be Not Afraid. Today I'm going to use the formula to finish hanging everything at eye level. This is perfect for my space that doubles as a back-drop for product photography as I live and work here. I firmly believe rules are meant to be broken for unique spaces but I like strictly following this one for harmony.

Got any further picture-hanging apartment-harmony-making tips? How do you go about hanging pieces perfectly? Before this I really did just go about it blindly trusting my eye to keep it harmonious.
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19 comments:

  1. Math! Augh!!
    Great tip though - I need to go check out how high my art is hanging now. Two of my favorite tips (thanks, pinterest) are the tape and toothpaste tricks for hanging pieces with 2 hangers on the back. Either place tape between the two holes/hangers and transfer the tape to the wall, or put a tiny dab of toothpaste in the center of each hanger, press the piece on the wall where you want to hang, et voila! Perfectly spaced marks so no more millions of holes in the wall trying to get those pesky pieces level.
    Now I'm off to go wander through my house with a tape measure...

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    1. It's SUPER easy I promise. When I first saw it my brain said "NOOOOOO do not waaant" but it was super easy to put it to work. The tape/toothpaste idea is awesome. Was just struggling with that crap hanging yesterday. I measured twice and the holes still weren't level. Remember when double-checking that the art piece should be 57" in the middle to be at the average eye-height.

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  2. Thanks for the tip, I'm going to try this one out.

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    1. Do it! It can be challenging but I'm loving it so far!

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  3. Hanging art too high is always one of my pet peeves! And people really do that a lot in Florida because of the high ceilings! UGH! People think they have to bring things up higher to fill up the space, And I always tell them to bring things down low to create a room and not to focus on the height! Also another trick I used to do when hanging things for clients (I came to the point of no longer measuring anything, I usually could just "eyeball it"), I would hold the nail in my hand behind the picture I was hanging and I would pull the wire hanger, as if it were pulled to hang on the nail, and I would take the nail and scrape it against the wall. Then when I set the pic down, there would be a mark on the wall where to place the nail. (it sure beat measuring and marking) . Also I would always use picture hanger hooks. (50lb, 100lb, and up) Its an extra security, buy a bunch at lowes for just a couple of bucks.

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    1. Thanks for the detailed tips! This is my first apartment with super high ceilings and I've got crazy filling them to the brim, oops. Brining everything down! Good idea to always use hooks, I just use them for the heavy stuff. I've done the nail trick before too but have gone back to marking for the moment.

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    2. Oh I was going to pick your interior designer knowledge again with a question about displaying collections. Do you think it looks too busy or distracting when displays are atop tall bookshelves or home built-ins? Like I have in this photo: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SuxpuFZVW7A/T48CeEZJwyI/AAAAAAAAGY4/CD87WwAtL2E/s1600/ecclectic_kitchen.jpg ?

      Yep I'm being crazy pedantic about all of this but I'm enjoying this challenge as a hobby and challenging myself to arrange my home, aka "photo backdrop" nicely while learning and design balance.

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  4. But what if I'm 5'1" and I don't care about the average human's height?!

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    1. Some people are 6'4" and are fine with hanging things with this 57" rule. It's more of a rule to keep things hung in a consistent way and to prevent things from being hung too high or too low for normal viewing. The 57" is just an average, some may be looking up, some down but people in the too-short or too-tall realm won't have to crane their necks up or down too hard. I love a lot of homes with things hung touching the ceiling, it's your home and you set the rules and hang things where you're comfortable and where it pleases you. This is something I'm doing myself in my house because I thought I'd challenge myself to it and see if it adds a certain harmony to my eclectic collection and it's forcing me to edit and arrange my art with thought and care. I thought I'd share the rule I just learned for others to benefit.

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  5. Just to be able to hang pictures in this hell hole would be great , everytime you put anything into the walls you get a 3 inch crumbling hole , drives me mad

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    1. Ha! I've been there. Depending on where you hang in here you'll get the same thing. I'll have to look into solutions for crumbling cheap dry wall...

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  6. Love the idea behind this, great tips for art lovers.

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    1. I'm enjoying using it, had to share :)

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  7. That's actually really interesting. I always struggle when hanging things and end up with walls like dart boards as I change it all around, so hopefully this tip will really help.

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    1. I move things a lot too and yep, I'll need to get some speckle today to hide the evidence. I'm really enjoying this rule to keep things balanced and help keep everything in the apartment consistent.

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  8. Nice tip and well timed. I've got a massive stash of art waiting to be hung, and it scares the heck out of me...I have the worst picture hanging luck.

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    1. I'm using the rule to hang my stash and give myself back some closet space, too ;) I love it because limitations force creativity and thoughtfulness and it's helping me arrange better compositions on the walls. Can't wait to share the apartment before/afters, the place is looking much more streamlined.

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  10. Thank you...great info, I break the rule way too often
    Aleza

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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