When it comes to your home décor, hanging paintings is often one of the most daunting tasks (aside from maybe hanging curtains). Here are a few helpful tips that I’ve compiled to help you with the do’s and don'ts of hanging art.

Before we jump in, remember to have fun and take some risks – too much order can make a room stagnant. Now, let’s get inspired!

Julia Hetzel Interiors

Fitting or forced?

One of the first things to take into account is the space where you plan to hang your art. If you live in a smaller space, it may not be as simple as having a fully blank wall, so you need to make sure you’re maximizing the area. This could be your opportunity to stack paintings (more on that later) or hang something unconventional. On the other hand, if you have a giant wall, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a huge painting that will fill it. Hang a medium piece of art and flank it with smaller paintings or even architectural elements.

Pro tip: Make sure to keep the background in mind when hanging art. White walls are easy, but if you have a textured backdrop, painted wood, or another color, be sure it coordinates with the tones in your painting. I always say treat your home like your personal style – if you wouldn’t wear two different patterns that clash, then you certainly wouldn’t want to put that outfit on your wall!

Image source: Veranda

Hover or lean?

It’s easy to assume that your favorite painting should hang on a wall where it’s visible to all. However, sometimes the best look and feel for a room is to lean a painting on a shelf, chair, console, or mantel. Framed art leaning on a beautiful piece of furniture can look more elegant while adding dimension to the room. I’ve even hung paintings on a book bookshelf to enhance the space.

Sometimes doing something unexpected and innovative with artwork is the key to adding interest to your room!

Centered or skewed?

I get asked a lot whether or not it’s important to center a piece on the wall. The answer is that it really depends on the look you’re going for. But in my opinion, some of the best displays are bold and take risks with placement. Sometimes it’s necessary to skew a painting a bit to create a separate space in a room. For example, if you have a stunning chair in the corner of a bedroom, you can hang a picture right above it to create a serene little space. In this case, centering the art on the wall might take away from the area you created with the chair. Don’t be afraid to create a story with your pieces-- oftentimes changing it up can add elegance.

Symmetry is normally my go-to-- hanging pieces in a straight line, centered on a wall, or a grid. Sometimes (maybe even often) this approach is what looks best in a room. Make sure it fits the space and incorporates your personality!

Stacked or single?

I’m totally in to stacking! Sometimes stacking two beautiful pieces of art takes the style of the room to the next level. If done right, you’ll look like a professional! You can mix photos with drawings or sketches, combine various picture frames, or even throw a mirror into the mix to expand the space. I recently had a client who owned a sketch and a painting that were both in gorgeous antique-gold frames. She’d never thought to stack them since the two pieces of art are very different, but they complement each other beautifully. You can even take two of the same pieces of art and stack them to draw your eye to an area in the room (like I did on either side of the master bed in the picture below). The one big rule when it comes to stacking is to ALWAYS be sure that the larger piece is on top and the smaller on the bottom... You don't want your art to look like a Christmas tree ;)

The cover of one of my favorite design books, "Sophisticated Simplicity" by Suzanne Kasler!

Eye level or elevated?

The industry standard for how high to hang your painting is typically eye level (about 60 inches above the ground). Another way to calculate it is if you divided your wall into four horizontal sections (from floor to ceiling), you’d hang it in the third section (from the floor). With that said, you don’t have to be 100% attached to this approach. It could be more visually appealing (especially if you have a smaller wall) to tack a painting higher than eye level to create the illusion of a bigger space. Another option that I love is to place a smaller painting above a doorway. Some rules can be broken in the name of style!

Pro tip: When considering what to hang and where, keep in mind that mirrors do one of the most important things in design – they reflect light. The more light, the bigger and brighter a space feels. You can place a mirror behind the sofa, over a console table, in a hallway, or above side tables in a bedroom to lighten up a room and make it feel larger.

Julia Hetzel Interiors

Hang or just handy?

It’s worth mentioning that just because something isn’t considered a piece of art, doesn’t mean that it can’t add character. I’ve used old painted pieces of furniture, antiques, or architectural salvaged features as one way to enhance a room. You can even take an old, wooden ladder and use it as a blanket rack to make an area come to life. Here are some other ideas: use corbels as bookends on a bookshelf, dress your wall with tobacco baskets, or use an old washstand as a side table. Also, if you’re needing more space, there are plenty of pieces that serve dual purposes, such as hooks or shelves, that still add beauty to your walls.

I love tradition, but when it comes to hanging pieces on walls, “precise” doesn’t always mean “perfect”. Sometimes it’s more creative to pair two different pieces together, take a risk with placement, hang an antique piece of architecture, or simply lean a painting on a shelf. You can start with the rules and see if they lead to even better results when you break them. The more you relax and have fun, the more it will show in your approach!

Need further information on how to accessorize your home? Read this blog for tips on how to take your style to the next level!


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