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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

The Proper Height to Hang Artwork:

A few weeks ago I asked followers of my Facebook page what topics they'd like for me to discuss on my new blog. As a professional designer in the N.C. Triangle area, I was looking forward to hearing their suggestions and determining how I could be helpful.

There were some great suggestions posted! I’ve decided to start with one of the ideas: what height to hang art on a wall. It's a design element that proves challenging for many people. Unfortunately, most people place their art too high on a wall. It's rare to see things hung correctly in a home, so let's dive right into this topic.

The "Eyes" Have It:

Rule of thumb dictates that artwork should hang at eye-level. But what is eye-level when individuals aren't uniform in height and eye-level would inevitably vary? And, what do you do when hanging something above a fireplace or cabinet? That's not eye-level.

Here's a great tip I recently read which standardizes the eye-level rule of thumb.  

Measure the artwork to find its vertical center. Then, measure from the floor up 57" from the floor. (See the diagram.) Most pictures, mirrors, or artwork should hang so that their center is about 57" from the floor.  

When Eye-Level Doesn't Work:

If you plan on hanging a piece over a fireplace or sideboard, then the 57" rule of thumb likely won't work. My suggestion is to center the art horizontally (that's left to right) over the fireplace or sideboard. Then, hang the piece approximately four to ten inches above the mantel or top of the sideboard. However...

In some cases, you could center the art between the fireplace/sideboard and the ceiling for a symmetrical look. But, that doesn't often work, nor should it be a rule of thumb. Centering artwork between the fireplace/sideboard and the ceiling could place the art far too high. So, the best advice for placing art above a fireplace or sideboard is you should be able to stand about six feet away without having to crane your neck up to look at art.

Hanging a Gallery Wall:

Gallery portrait walls are very popular. So how do you determine the correct height for a collection?

My suggestion is first place the pictures as you'd like them to appear on the wall on the floor to get a sense of how the gallery will look. In other words, create a mock-up of the gallery on the floor before you tap in that first nail.

Once you have your mock-up as you'd like it, then find the 57" from the floor to determine the grouping's center (The 57" might turn out to be the space between the pictures, and that's fine.)

Once you have located the center of the grouping, start there and follow the steps mentioned earlier as if you were hanging only one piece of art. Don't worry if you feel that 57" at first seems too low. Before you move a piece higher up a wall, think about a museum or art gallery. Where was the art placed on the wall relative to your eye-level?

Placing art at eye-level on your wall gives your home and walls a more professional and balanced look.


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