How To Hang A Picture: Rule #1

Posted by Greta Braddock on Jul 29, 2016

You’ve received your beautiful custom-framed piece of art back in the mail from Simply Framed. Now what? We’ve partnered up with Jay Sacher, illustrator of the must-have book, How To Hang A Picture and Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Homefor a monthly how-to-series on hanging your artwork. Penned by author Suzanne LaGasa, the book spills all the instructions, tips, and tricks to make you a hanging pro (Plus, you get to enjoy Jay's incredible illustrations). Framing—and hanging—have never been easier!

Centering your art at eye level is a key component to a well-planned wall.

According to Sacher and LaGasa, “There are basic principles to follow when hanging your art on your wall.” And only after you learn the rules, can you start breaking them for extra style points.

The number one rule? Hang art at eye-level. Doing so means the piece will look as good from twelve feet away as it does from twelve inches away. The artwork will neither seem to be falling to the ground or floating up in space. While seemingly obvious, this rule is actually often overlooked by home decorators.

Turns out, there’s just one magic number you need to remember to put this rule into action: 57 inches, the average sight line for any human being. If the center of your art is placed on the wall at 57 inches, you’re in business. Read on for all the steps you need to master the 57-inch rule.

Tools you’ll need: Measuring tape and a soft pencil. (Optional: ball of string, ruler, and painters tape.)

Step 1: Measure 57 inches off the floor to determine where your art will sit on the wall. Mark where the center of your artwork should be placed with a light pencil.

Step 2: Locate the exact center of your artwork by measuring across the top and bottom of the piece and mark it close to the frame with your pencil.

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 to find the center of the vertical edge of the artwork and mark on both sides. Then connect each set of hashmarks across the back of your piece with a light pencil line to find the center point.

Step 4: If you don't want to mark the back of your art, use the measuring tape and string to adjoin opposite hashmarks and then place a piece of painter’s tape in the center of the back of your artwork.

Step 5: Now consider how you are hanging your art on the wall (more tips on that in upcoming post!) For instance, if you are hanging with a wire, you will need to measure the distance between where the wire will be affixed to the wall and the center of your artwork. If the wire sits 6 inches above the center of the artwork when the piece is hung, then you will put your nail into the wall 6 inches directly above the 57-inch mark you made on the wall.

Of course, like every great rule, there are exceptions. For one, the bottom of the picture should never be closer than approximately 8 inches away from any piece of furniture, so if you need to go a bit higher than 57 inches, you can. If you are hanging over a high piece of furniture such as bureau, use this 8-inch rule to determine placement of the bottom edge of the artwork.

Two equally sized pieces hung at eye level. Lisa Wong Jackson and Nick Jackson, Berkeley, CA.

Another magic number to keep in mind is that 3 - 6 inches is the ideal spacing between pieces of art.

The graphic quality of these shipping-container photographs combines with their placement for a compelling display. Steven Wade, Lakewood, OH.

The 57-inch rule can be very useful when hanging works of varying sizes. If all pieces are hung with their center at 57 inches, they will look anchored in our sight line and flow nicely. However, anchoring just one piece at eye-level and hanging other pieces in relation to it can also work to create optical balance.

Anchoring one of three pieces at eye level can create optical balance. Anna Wolf and Mike Perry, Brooklyn, NY.

Be sure to pick up your copy of How To Hang A Picture today for many more details and pointers on how to hang like a pro. And stay tuned for our next handy how-to with more of Jay's gorgeous illustrations coming soon on the blog! Happy hanging!

All illustrations by Jay Sacher.

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