The Fabulous Trick for Hanging Photos & Art

I am not an interior decorator…not by any stretch, but I do enjoy it.  I love the painting, planning, shopping (oh, yes the shopping), and so much more about it.  And as much as I love art and photography, I used to really struggle with hanging it.  But, after co-owning a frame shop and art gallery for a time I’ve picked up a few tips.  If this helps you…please let me know and I’ll try to keep more posts like this coming.

The first thing that I consider when hanging a piece is size.  It is very important to size the piece correctly for the wall and with the furniture where it will “live”.  I am sure there is a science to it, but overall, I just try to judge if the piece fits the space or not.  For instance an 8×10 over a couch is going to be dwarfed and lose the impact it might have had.  Look at the example below.  Which makes more of a statement?

two different sized framed photos for a large wall with a couch

Clearly, the children in these photographs are adorable at any size. (Biased? Yes.) But, the photo on the left is way too small for this wall. It almost looks silly. The photo hanging on the right is much more appropriate.

Of course, the opposite is true.  If this was a small wall, the photo on the left may be perfect.  So, choose your space first and then select the size that seems to fit.  (Keep reading for a fabulous tip for considering different sizes and where they’d look best without 10-15 nail hole adjustments!)

I highly recommend everyone choose at least one large piece for their home.  It makes such an impact.  But, as a photographer, I understand the desire for quantity when dealing with photographs.  How could I ever choose just a few photos to hang of my children?  Impossible.  So, one tip is to hang a group of photos that “trick” your eye into seeing one large piece.  That way a few smaller frames can combine visually to read as one and fill a large wall beautifully.

My own living room has a wall like this.  (Disclaimer: NOT crazy about our wall color or black frames on said wall color.  But since I’d love to move I don’t want to paint.)  If you’d like a house with this color living room…let me know.  Sold!

a number of different sized frames hanging as a collection

Although it may seem complicated to hang a collection of photos like this, the process really is simple.

I have intended to blog the aforementioned fabulous trick for a few weeks now.  Then, when I read a post on Young House Love (Go ahead.  Click and check it out.  Just promise you’ll come back, because you will be tempted to read for hours) that covered the same tip I asked them if I could share.  And being the kind people they are, they said yes. 🙂

So here are a few photos but definitely be sure to check out the whole process here.

Step 1: Cut newspaper or tissue paper the exact size of your frame.

newspaper is placed on wall to display the layout of photos and art

©Young House Love

Step 2: Mark an ” x” (or a “q” or a little heart for that matter) on the paper where the nail will go.  (Be sure you line up the nail hole with the frame’s hook(s).)

Step 3: Hang the created templates with painter’s tape or that sticky gum-like stuff.

Step 4: Step back and admire/consider.  How’s it look?  Anything need changed?

Step 5: When you’ve perfected your paper layout, use the mark you made on the paper and simply hammer the nail right through.  That’s right…no measuring required.  (I told you it was a fabulous trick.)

use a template to hang photos and mark the nail hole with an x

©Young House Love

Step 6: Enjoy!  Isn’t that beautiful?  If you read the full post, you will see they did have to make some adjustments after all the frames were hung.  (This has happened to me as well.) But, overall the trick works really well and can help tremendously when planning a wall like this.

Arranging a wall with a collection of photos and art doesn't have to be as hard as it seems

©Young House Love

I hope you learned something.  Here are a few more tips/sources that you might find helpful:

  • How to hang and align photos…ThincTanc has a great post on this.
  • A curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston gives some suggestions here.
  • Usually, a photograph or piece of art should hang at 57-60″ at the center (from the floor).  This is considered “eye level.”
  • As mentioned, you can use a large piece or several small ones to create the same visual “size.”
  • Understand the rules and guidelines and then break them if you want to!

4 Comments

  1. Ati March 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Hi Amy!!! Visiting you from The SEO Forum , I was browsing around to get to know your work better and I love the contect you have here, specially this particular post 🙂 about how to display your art …Good stuff and info….
    I’ll be here every week to check out your work
    XOXO

    ATI

  2. Melissa March 29, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    What a fantastic visual! It really helps to be able to see how large an image is going to be in relation to other items in the room.

  3. Tom March 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Thanks for this post! I am about to move some pictures from one room of my house to another and you have given some great tips for making sure they will look good on their new wall.

  4. Sharon April 20, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    I just took notes with my colored pens in my Trapper Keeper.

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