Jan 12, 2018 By Thomasville
Few things in your home communicate more about you than the art you choose and display. Art doesn’t have to be expensive to have something to say; when you frame and hang something in a way that announces you think it’s important, it speaks up with confidence. If you’re not sure whether you’re hanging art so that it says what you want, use these tips to put it right:
This is the universal #1 tip for hanging art, but what constitutes “eye level” varies. Museums and galleries center their art on a line around 57-58 inches from the floor, which represents “eye level” to the majority of patrons. If you’re very tall or very short, your ideal center line may be different. Just remember that it’s the center of the piece—not the top or the bottom—that should be at eye level. A gallery or collection should be considered a single large piece, with its center at eye level. That consistent midline will help harmonize all the art in your home.
The piece or collection for any given stretch of wall should be of the same shape and orientation as the wall it’s trying to fill. For example, hanging art in landscape mode works for walls that are wider than they are tall. For a tall, narrow section of wall, chose art you can hang in portrait mode. Be aware, though, that we’re talking about visible wall, not actual wall. When a section of wall is covered by furniture, the section you can see above the furniture is the size and shape of wall you’re trying to fill.
Your art is in a conversation with the design elements around it, and hanging art so that it relates to the nearby furniture is the way to make sure you end up with a cohesive group. A single large piece or a collection hanging above a sofa, for example, should be somewhere between half and two-thirds the length of the sofa. If the art is above a table or console, look for something tall—a plant or lamp—to act as a physical bridge connecting them. Color and line are important connective fibers, as well, particularly when the art serves as the largest pattern in the room and should therefore set the color palette.
After you’ve identified what constitutes “eye level” for you, now it’s time to make adjustments for context. Art needs to live comfortably with surrounding design elements, and wrong-size gaps will put the entire arrangement out of place. If your ceiling is very low (below 8’, as in some basements or attics), push the art below eye level rather than crowd the ceiling line. Your furniture will also affect the dimension of available wall for hanging art. In general, avoid awkward gaps by hanging art 6-8” above the top of sofas and tables.
After you take into account all the proper relationships for hanging art—eye height, distance from ceiling, distance from furniture, proportion of neighboring furniture, size of wall—if you can’t make the relationships work, the art piece is the wrong size. (And more often than not it’s too small.) Art needs to be large enough to fill a wall properly, neither crowding nor shrinking away from the design elements around it. If you love a piece of art, choose the right place for it.
Just be sure to keep in mind that these are tips and guidelines, not rules. Hanging art is an art, so let your eye be your guide and create something you love.