So perhaps you’ve already found a piece of art for your space (or if you’re still browsing, take a look here), or you’re lost to decide on which space to actually use, or you’ve got both in mind, but are intimidated to actually hang the thing! And the truth is, hanging paintings or prints incorrectly (that is, most often at the wrong height) is a very common design mistake that has a big impact on the entire space. As an architect, I would see this all the time. It can make a space feel small, crowded and disproportioned, essentially confusing the entire feel of the space. Which then brings us back to what a lot of us do, leave it leaning or collecting dust while we build some more confidence to attempt it.
So, let’s demystify what can be solved in a few quick steps and get that art onto our blank walls. Here are my creative and simple tips to get you on your way:
DESIGN TIPS for Single Artwork:
TIP 1: General Spatial Considerations
As a general rule, take a look at your space and the scale of your wall before starting. What are some of the guiding indicators? High Ceilings? Narrow space? Width of your wall? Light Sources? Keep these in mind as you consider where you want to hang your artwork. Ideally, you want to try to avoid direct sunlight or glare on your piece, especially if it is behind reflective glass.
TIP 2: Hang at Eye Level
If you’re hanging a single artwork on a blank wall, its best at eye level, about 152cm (60”) from the centre of the piece to the floor is typically ideal. If the piece is above furniture, space it about 10-15cm (4-6”) above the furniture. And again, as a general rule of thumb, always consider the scale of your space when hanging art. If you’re still struggling, feel free to reach out to me here, send me a photo of your space and your artwork, and I’ll help you out!
DESIGN TIPS for Multiple Pieces and Gallery Walls:
TIP 3: It’s best to treat two pieces as one.
If you’re hanging two pieces on a blank wall, its best to treat them as one piece, and still hang them at eye level, about 152cm (60”), this time from the centre of the two pieces to the floor is typically ideal. You can extend this same rule to about three or even four pieces. Which leads us to the next question – spacing.
TIP 4: Gallery Walls with identical sized frames and art.
So, we have our wall and our heights, but how far apart should the pieces be from each other? There’s no magic number here, but in general, you want to keep them looking like they’re grouped together, so 5-7cm (2-3”) is usually acceptable. Whether you’re hanging your pieces in a grid, linear, vertical or gallery layout, keep all the spacing the same, otherwise things will look a little clumsy.
TIP 5: Gallery Walls with different frames and sizes.
Ohhh, here’s where things get really fun! Don’t overthink this, or you’ll never actually finish the thing… For large frames, keep spaces 5-7cm (2-3”) apart. For smaller frames, a bit less 4-5 cm (1.5-2.5”).
And if some of your frames are large and some are small (which I actually love doing), use the larger spacing for all. I find whenever you change spacing in one grouping, it bothers the eye.
Don’t be afraid of asymmetry, mixing styles, colours and trying groupings that aren’t in a grid. I try to have fun with the frames and layouts, but find keeping the prints or artworks cohesive in some way – either colour, style, or theme the same, for example all black and white, or florals or landscapes.
If you’re worried, cut pieces of paper the same size as your artwork and tape them to your wall first to have a better visual before making holes, and more holes.. (no shame, we’ve all been there!)
TIP 6: Lighting and Handling Art
In order to prevent any damage, minimize handling the artwork or print as much as possible, if it’s not yet framed. By holding its edges delicately place the artwork into a frame with a glass protective screen.
Find a nice spot that receives indirect sunlight if possible. If using picture lights, don’t attach them too close to the painting as the bulbs can get hot and heat the painting. The best type of light for your painting is indirect sunlight, recessed lighting or halogen lights.
TIP 7: Some of my favourite tools to make things easier
Here are some of my favourite trade secret/hacks if you will.. tools that will make it easier for you, and a variety of hanging hooks (hole-less and sticky options) if you can't make holes in walls, or want to be able to easily move things around.