Finding and collecting art can bring great enjoyment. From reputable auction houses to flea markets and online art stores, the opportunities for finding great art are numberless. Yet collecting brings you only halfway, since you still need to hang your picture in your home to really enjoy it. Do some of your pictures get dusty in your storage because you keep wondering how to hang them? Are you overwhelmed when attempting to follow the common rules for hanging art? This guide has got you covered.
As with other aspects of interior design, it is helpful to understand the basic principles. On this basis you can then go and improvise. After all, the most attractive arrangement can often be the one least expected.
- Match the shape of the artwork to the wall shape
When choosing art for a room, first consider the shape of the free space on the wall. A high vertical space will attract a picture of the same shape, i.e., a large picture in portrait format. If you have a wide horizontal space, for example above your sofa, a broad artwork in landscape format will fit in nicely.
If you want to hang several artworks instead of one large one, imagine the composition of the pictures to be a single piece. You can use the same type of frames and identical coloured mats to group together your pictures for a coherent feel. A smaller piece of art can still be suitable for a larger wall space if it is particularly eye catching.
- Hang pictures at eye level
As for the height to hang pictures, interior design sticks to gallery and museum conventions. Generally, a picture should be hung at eye level. This means that the midpoint of a piece of art should be around 165 centimetres above the floor. For consistency, this midpoint should be kept throughout the entire apartment. When you hang a grouping of artwork, envision it to be one single piece of art.
However, you can achieve some refreshing effects through unconventional placements, for example by hanging a little piece of art above the door or lowering a picture behind a sofa to give it a cosy look. Furthermore, wall art in the dining room can be lower than eye level since you will be looking at it most while being seated.
- Maintain constant space between pictures
When you hang multiple pieces of art on one wall, consider the entire collection to be one work of art. A common design rule dictates to keep the space between two artworks at around 5 to 8 centimetres apart. You can break this rule and let your intuition speak when hanging an eclectic group of pictures.
- Artwork to be 2/3 width of furniture
When hanging art over a sofa, a fireplace, a bed, or other furniture, the general rule is that the piece should be about 2/3 of the width of the furniture. As outlined above, a grouping of pictures can be considered to be a single piece of art, which applies also to this interior design rule. Collections in odd numbers usually work best, for example, choose three images to hang behind your sofa. This way you can achieve some volume without having it appear crowded.
- Use a unifying theme for collages
For larger groupings, consider using a common thread to tie the pieces together. Ideally, pictures should be part of a collection or set. In other cases, you might want to choose the same style of frames to make the grouping appear more cohesive. However, in case you want to emphasize the variety of your collection, your unifying theme can be its diversity. Such groupings are best suited for less formal rooms like your bedroom.
- Hang pictures around 15 to 25 centimetres above furniture
In case you hang your pictures above furniture, such as sofas, tables, or mantles, the convention is to stick to 15 to 25 centimetres distance above them. Break this rule only when hanging exceptionally large or small pieces above the furniture. For instance, a tiny piece of art placed 15 centimetres above a large sofa won’t look balanced, in contrast to a large landscape format picture which will look splendid at this height. If you are in doubt, it is always easier to opt for a larger sized image when designing your walls.
Knowing the conventional rules of interior design will help greatly when hanging your precious wall art. The conventions are an ideal starting point for setting up your personal home gallery. But don’t be afraid to break these rules when it makes sense and follow your intuition without fear of not getting it right.