Hanging Art and Wall Decor
Around Your Home

Hanging art and wall decor is sometimes trickier than one may think. It seems simple enough. Hammer, Nail, Hang and "VOILA!" "Hmmm . . . that doesn't look high enough." Are you guilty of numerous nail holes in your drywall from trying to find the perfect spot for your art? I think we have all been there before. I know I'm guilty.

Hanging Tools and Hardware

There is no perfect solution for hanging art. Many variables come into play. Will you be anchoring into drywall or a stud? Does your art have uneven hanging points which require the left nail being slightly higher than the right? If you've been hanging artwork or wall decor long enough, you know what I'm talking about and have probably run into a few of these scenarios.

Despite these variables, there are a few tips I have picked up over the years to assist with some of these "wall hanging woes." I'm sure you will be able to put a few of these ideas to use in your next wall hanging project.

Placement and Hanging Tips

You may want to plan your wall hangings by placing them out on your floor first. This is especially helpful if you will be hanging multiple pieces together and want to experiment with hanging patterns or random placement. This will help develop a sense of the required spacing. By going this route, you can also determine if your art will extend beyond the boundaries of the furniture it will be hanging with.

Another option, although it takes a bit more effort, is to create templates for each piece of art you will be hanging. You can trace each piece out on paper and hang these cut-out versions on the wall with painter's tape. By doing this, you can easily move the templates around until you are satisfied with their placement.

I typically prefer having a helper who assists with holding the art while I stand back and evaluate it's positioning. This is my preferred method but do what works best for you. Creating templates is beneficial if you are hanging art without any assistance.

Frugal Tip Consider purchasing a roll of plain, brown craft paper. It is large enough to accommodate most templates you may need to create and the paper can be used for other design projects such as the background for some of your framed art or even as a drop cloth when painting your floor trim.

Here is a neat trick you can utilize if you have some stubborn, uneven hanging points. Flip your artwork, picture frame, wall plaque (or whatever you are having difficulty with), over and lay it flat on the floor. Tracing paper works best for this. Write the word front on the paper and then turn it over and place that side against the back of the art. Align the paper with the top of the art so that both edges are even and level. Take a fine tip marker and make a dot where the anchor points or holes are located.

Wall Hanging Template

Wall Hanging Template

Remove the paper and hang it on the wall with some painter's tape in the spot where the art is to hang. The top of the paper would be the top of the frame. Make sure the word front is facing you. You can now take a nail and hammer through the marker dots you have created. This eliminates measuring and guessing.

Wall Hanging Template

Tip You do not need to make your "hanging points template" the exact size of your artwork. Just make sure it is wide enough to span the art's width, lines up with the top of the art and reaches to at least the anchor points you are marking.

Also, if you are making the brown craft paper templates to experiment with wall placement, use those as we did with the tracing paper and add anchor points too. Just remember which side faces front when you hang them on the wall. A left or right anchor point may be higher or lower than the other.

Having the necessary tools and hardware readily available makes hanging art much easier. An electronic stud finder can be beneficial if you have some heavy art or decor that needs to be well secured.

Drywall anchors, typically made of plastic, are inserted into holes created by a drill and drill bit. They should require some light tapping with a hammer to seat them snuggly in the drywall. You want to use appropriately sized screws (not nails) with these anchors. As the screw is threaded through the anchor, the anchor will expand within the drywall creating a secure mounting point for your art. You can purchase anchor/screw kits.

Picture hanging kits are also recommended and can be found at most hardware stores. These kits are handy and provide different types of mounting hardware for different situations. They also typically provide various picture hooks and cable for adding your own mounting points to your wall art and decor.

TIP: Some wall art, depending on the type of mounting used, protrudes further from the wall at the top than at the bottom when hung. Even this out by placing felt pads along the lower portions of the art. Use the type for the legs of chairs to inhibit scratching the floor. They have a nice thickness, won't scratch the wall and come pre-adhesive. Just peel and stick.

Layout and Placement Examples

You will want to hang art in a manner appropriate for the style of the room. Traditional homes typically rely on symmetry and balance. Contemporary or modern homes can dabble more with asymmetrical layouts. For more, general guidelines, see the page on Wall Art.

Horizontal groupings of three or more create width while vertical groupings create height.

Groupings of three are one of my favorite wall hanging layouts. Whether horizontal or vertical, these groupings provide interest and demand attention in any room. They are perfect for casual and contemporary spaces.

Look at the many examples below and perhaps you will gain some ideas to better showcase your wall art.

Kitchen Wall Art
An overall view of the hanging art and how they relate to one another in symmetry, line and balance.

Large Focal Art
One large focal piece flanked by two sconces creates symmetry in this modern kitchen.

Pair of Pictures

A pair of like pictures flank a window creating symmetry.

Note how artwork can work well in unconventional locations, as that above the window. An adjacent wall (see first photo in series above) has a grouping of three vertical images which takes your eye upward. Having other art at that level makes sense in this case.

It's all about balance.

Horizontal Group of Three

The correct spacing between art and sconces keeps this group within the boundaries of the sofa's width.

Also note the distance from the top of the sofa to the bottom of the art. The art's center-point is at eye level.

Focal lighting adds interest and atmosphere.

Horizontal Group of Three
Another excellent example of line and balance. Note how strategically placed lighting adds ambiance and definition to these pictures.

More Groupings of Three

Group of Three

A group of three, antique framed images provide incredible interest on the accent wall of this colonial styled living room. They were centered with the wall rather than the wooden chest below. The asymmetry of the chair and the lamp provide the balance to "frame" the area properly.

Tip: Soothing, fresh greens, such as that on the accent wall above, are very current paint colors. These trendy greens conform well to any room style.

Group of Three
An asymmetrical group finds cohesion through the use of black and white art, and black frames. Different sizes and styles of frames can be hung together when there is a common element.

Group of Three
A nice grouping of antique, botanical prints and wooden frames. Balance is achieved by placing the large frame between the smaller two.

Hanging in Pairs

Picture Pairs
Another thrift store find of vintage prints and frames. The image colors complement the accent color of the wainscoting.

Bathroom Wall Art
The floating shelf with vintage bath accessories becomes wall art. The width of the two pictures balances the width of the shelf. Both groups are equidistant from the sconce.

Picture Pairs
Hanging art in pairs on both sides of a doorway creates symmetry. Add neat embellishments to your groupings, such as the lion-head knocker above which is actually a drawer pull.

Hanging Art for Focal Symmetry

Focal Art

Focal Symmetry

Other Hanging Art Examples

Focal Art
Note how this vintage oil painting (upper left) makes a bold statement on this side wall. The frame does not exceed the antique ice chest it hangs above nor does it go higher than the trim of the built-in bookshelves.

Unique Grouping
This unique approach proves that not all design must follow strict rules. The common element is vintage, needlepoint botanicals. A fitting subject for this colonial style sewing room. The round mirror provides some balance and repetition of shape with the other hanging art.

The photos above should give you some ideas and guidance
for your own wall hanging arrangements.

Visit the following sections to see what I've hung on some of my walls.

Framed Art

Painted Art

Wall Mirrors

Wall Decor

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