Tips and Tricks for Hanging Artwork

October 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm , by

Kate Spade StoreAs a recent transplant to New York City, one of the most exciting things about my new apartment was deciding where to hang all of my favorite pieces of artwork. Getting everything up on the walls was the first step in making my new digs feel like me. Although my bare walls were daunting, I’m happy to report that they’re now adorned with some of my favorite things.

Here are some tips and tricks I picked up during the decorating process.

1. Bring a friend. Aside from the usefulness of a second pair of hands, a friend who can offer suggestions and unexpected ideas is a huge help. And if they happen to be a whiz at home decorating, all the better.

2. Plan ahead. Decide where everything goes before you start making holes in your walls. There’s nothing worse than hanging a photo and then realizing it would look great in an arrangement in another room. I like to leave my artwork leaning against the walls for a few days so I can think about how it will look and feel in the spot I’ve picked.

Emily Henderson3. Consider scale. You don’t want to hang a small painting on a huge wall, and vice versa. This is where a friend comes in handy–have them hold the painting up on the wall so you can get an idea of how it will look. And work with the shape of the wall. A set of frames hung vertically draws the eye upward, while a horizontal row of photos can elongate a wall.

4. Experiment with arrangements. If you have a bunch of small pieces, try hanging them together. Lay them out on the floor or use kraft paper cutouts of each frame to play around with different layouts. Pieces with similar colors, subjects, or styles play well together. Be sure to hang them close together so they form a coherent group.

5. Get height right. Avoid hanging something too low or too high (you don’t want visitors craning their necks to check out your art). To get it just right, check out the Stellars Gallery guide to the nuts and bolts of hanging.

How you hang something reflects your taste as much as what you hang, so find creative display ideas that showcase your style. Try mixing objects–vintage iron pieces, china, baskets, etc.–with your art. Or let them stand on their own, like stylist Emily Henderson did with the Red Cross flag above her sofa. Most importantly, have fun! Make sure you enjoy the process as much as you will the end result.

Top photo by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan via Apartment Therapy.

4 Responses to “Tips and Tricks for Hanging Artwork”

  1. Hi Sara,

    These are great tips as well as a well organized and easy to follow how-to. I’m sending your link to my nephew who recently moved to a new apartment and still has bare walls—although piles of artwork, mirrors, etc. on his floors. Have also made notes for myself when I finally decorate a much neglected guest room.

    I found your voice warm and encouraging—as if you were speaking to me.

    Thanks—and look forward to more.


  2. Sara,
    Great tips! These seem simple enough to execute and the photos really drive your points home. Good stuff.
    Can’t wait to see more.

  3. SARA-

    Me and a few of my close female family members, thoroughly enjoyed your article. I recently moved into a large home of my own and felt so overwhelmed with all of the pieces I had to hang. My cousin actually sent me your tips and they have helped tremendously. Keep your friendly tips coming!


  4. Hi Sara,

    These are great tips. I loved the simple and warm way you presented the info. Fun!!

    Good wishes,