How to hang a picture or painting

Pictures and paintings can add sophistication to any room. You’ve thoughtfully picked out the right print or photo for that vacant wall space in your living room, but maybe you are overwhelmed by the thought of actually hanging it. Here is a basic strategy to tackle the often daunting task of hanging a picture or painting:

Take measurements
If your frame has a wire hanger, measure the distance from the top of the frame to the wire at full tension. Using a tape measure, determine the height and width of the frame, and divide that in half to determine the center point. The average eye-level point falls at 58 inches, so you should measure 58 inches from the ground and make a mark in pencil on the wall. Line this up with the predetermined center of the frame.

Say your frame is 24 inches in length. On the wall, make a small mark 12 inches above the 58-inch point and add another dot that is 12 inches below. These two points represent where the bottom and top edges of the frame should end up. Make an “x” where the nail will go using the distance from the top of the frame to the wire at full tension that you found in the first step and the center of the picture. If you want to be precise, it may help to scribble a diagram with the different measurements. Hang the picture and step back to see how it looks. The top of the frame should be 70 inches from the ground. Use a level to determine if the painting is straight.

Sitting or standing
If you want to hang something across from a couch or chair, take into account that most people will look at the art while seated. Repeat the above steps with the average eye level of someone sitting on your sofa. If the painting is above a piece of furniture, a general rule of thumb is to make sure the bottom of the frame is 6 inches above the top of the furnishing. You don’t want your guests to hurt their necks looking at your picture.

Think about aesthetics
Figure out where in your house you would like the picture to go. This may be determined by your color scheme or the size of the picture itself. Frames come in all shapes, sizes, weights and levels of ornateness. Pick out a frame that suits the picture and the decoration of the room. Take into account that different hanging mechanisms can support different weights of frames. Heavy, wide pictures may require two hooks, while you might be able to get by with wall adhesive hooks for lightweight frames. Picture hangers and wall hooks will stabilize the picture better than wire hangers will.

It might help to cut a piece of poster board or cardboard the size of your painting before you put any holes in the wall. Hold it up to determine if you have picked the right size frame and print for the room. Pictures that are too large or too small can throw the whole room off kilter.