When I refer to ‘art’ I mean anything that hangs on the wall for display. It may be paintings, portraits, photos, metallic art, collections (plates for example).
We often hear we should hang our art at ‘eye level’. But whose eye level? Eye level when sitting or eye level when standing? Here are a few pointers I have gathered together to help take the confusion out of it.
Generally speaking, art should be hung so that the center of the piece is between 57 and 60 in. from the floor. (Most galleries use 60 in. as their benchmark.) However, if you are hanging art above a sofa, the bottom of the frame should be between 8-10 inches above it. If hung above a console/table 4-8 inches is good so that the art relates with the vignette below it on the table. If you have high ceilings, you can hang your art slightly higher. Some people hang their art lower in rooms where people will mostly be seated (such as dining rooms) and higher in foyers/hallways where people are mostly standing. Personally, I prefer to stick to the 57 to 60 in. rule except when placed above furniture (as explained above).
Keep large pieces of art on large expanses of wall and smaller pieces on the smaller walls. Putting small pieces on a large wall gives the sense that the pieces are ‘floating’ away, which is very visually distracting. The exception to this rule is when several similar smaller pieces are grouped together and reads as one large piece. When done correctly this can be a great way to display your favorite photos or collections, etc. In groupings, keep the space between each piece no more than 2-5 inches.
Art should make a statement. These before and after photos show what a difference changing the small pieces of art (which are too small, too high and too far apart) to one large piece of art make that statement.
Shape…..does it matter? Generally speaking, vertically hung pieces can visually make a low ceiling look igher and a high ceiling lower. Vertical pieces of art and other vertical lines in a room tend to make a room more formal. A row of vertically hung pieces will add to the height of the room and draw the eye up. Lines of a horizontally hung piece emphasizes the width of a room and can visually expand it. It also lends itself to a more casual look.
The color of the subject matter and/ or the the colour of the matting determines the ‘feel’ of a room. Bright colorful art tends to be more fun and casual. For a more peaceful formal look, go with pale, harmonious colors. Also, to make the art stand out it is best to mat it with a contrasting color to the wall. A light mat against a dark wall or a dark mat against a light wall will help to make the art a focal point in the room.
For a more casual whimsy look, do not match all the frames in a grouping or even the larger stand alone pieces in a room. Matching frames will give a more formal look.
Symmetrically hung pieces gives balance and formality to a room and is almost always pleasing to the viewer. Asymmetrically hung pieces tend to give a more fun and informal atmosphere.
A couple of more general rules….if hanging art above a piece of furniture, such as a sofa, the width of the piece should never be wider than the piece of furniture. Some will say the art should not exceed 75% of the width of the furniture below it. Also, when hanging art above a sofa or similar, the art should take up 2/3 of the wall space between the furniture and the ceiling.