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How to Hang Art Advice from an Artist

Great_Room_Accent_Wall © Cristina Acosta
The accent structure is the fireplace and wall. The accent wall color combination of blue and purple cross-pollinates the similar colors from the kitchen and dining area. The area is a natural focal point for art.

Hanging art is all about location, location, location. As an artist, curator and interior designer, I’m giving you some how-to hang art advice that will help you place your pictures like a pro. Learning to hang art well is a craft (though some make it an art-form) that most anyone can learn.

Hanging art throughout your home is not just about the oft repeated advice that the ideal picture height is 57″ on center, measured from the floor. Here are a few tips:

  • Pick an art theme:
    • Choose art using visual themes – food, portraits, landscapes, abstract, etc. and hang the art in a room where that theme is appropriate to the decor.
    • Choose art using color themes – arrange art pieces by colors, such as placing all pieces with a predominance of cool blues and greens together, or pieces that are predominately in warm reds, yellow and oranges together.
    • Choose value themes – group art images with of like value together such as light soft values, bright colors, or dark values.
  • Create a focal point: Stand at the doorway to the room and notice where your eye goes first. That’s a focal point. Depending upon the size of a room, there is usually a main focal point with secondary and tertiary focal points. Hang art in those focal areas.
  • Cross-pollinate colors with art: Use art to add a pop of color to a room. Then add decor accent pieces that have some of the colors in the art: colored pillows, throws, lamps, etc.
  • Intimate versus expansive art: Small pieces of art are by nature of their size, more intimate. Large pieces are more expansive. Keep that in mind and put small pieces in areas where they get the attention they deserve. If you have a lot of small pieces, consider clustering them so that they act as one large piece on a wall.
  • Size matters: You can put a large painting on a small wall if the scale of the room works with it. Try an oversized painting in a small room and see how it works, you may surprise yourself.
  • Cluster: Treat a collection of small framed pieces as though it is one big painting or photograph:
  • The ideal picture height: Yes, scour the internet and you will see 57″ on center is the magic number. It might be. But this is your house and you and the people in it may like art a bit higher or lower. Use the 57″ as a starting place. End up wherever you would like. Just remember to be consistent throughout the room.
  • Proportion is key: Be sensitive to how the size and scale of the art feels in that particular room. Oversized might be perfect. A cluster of undersized art might be perfect. This is about your sensitivities. Change as needed.
  • Make Mistakes: Keep patching material and touch up paint on hand to make your mistakes easy to deal with. Mistakes are the mortar of creativity. Without mortar the bricks won’t be make a strong wall. When you work with your mistakes you will  observe, think and create more solutions.

Remember that location is key when hanging art. The right piece in the right space will feel right to you. And remember, measure twice before hanging (if you’re like me).