Solved! How High to Hang Pictures
Whether a casual vacation snapshot or a professional family portrait, you can give your favorite pictures the attention they deserve with this guide to the perfect height for hanging pictures on the wall.
Q: I recently framed my son’s graduation photo and want to display it in my living room. If I hang it too high, I’m afraid it will stick out like a sore thumb. But hung too low on the wall, it will blend in with other furnishings in the room. What’s the right height and technique for hanging a picture?
A: Knowing how high to hang pictures not only improves a room’s aesthetics but guarantees more comfortable viewing, too! Most homeowners and renters hang pictures so high on the wall that viewers are forced to crane their necks to admire your favorite photos, but you want to keep it at eye level for the average person.
Position your picture so that it is 57 inches on-center—meaning the center of the frame sits exactly that far from the floor. By following the rule of 57 inches, you wield the power to turn any picture into an accessible focal point of the room. If you’re feeling skeptical, consider that this principle is adopted by many museums and art galleries. And, when the centers of the pictures throughout a room fall in alignment, you achieve a harmonious and balanced perspective at every angle, even when you hang a row of variously sized pictures.
This rule of thumb also applies to a collection of pictures, as in a gallery wall. When working with several frames, the center of the picture grouping (rather than the center of any one picture) should hit the 57-inch level on the wall. Say, for example, you want to display four five-inch-tall pictures mounted vertically with four inches of wall space between each one. You’d measure the top edge of the top frame to the bottom edge of the bottom frame for a total height of 32 inches. Half the gallery height—which is 16 inches—should lie above the 57-inch level, and the other half should lie below it. Avoid making mistakes in the arrangement of a gallery wall by laying out a template with cut-to-size paper affixed to the wall with tape.
That said, it’s not a hard and fast rule for every scenario. If furnishings like a high-back chair or roll-top desk partially cover art centered 57 inches up the wall, adjust accordingly. Here, it’s better to distance bottom ledge of the picture frame six to eight inches from the top of the accent.
Use the picture’s center point to calculate where to mount the hardware. Mounting a frame to the wall always gets a little tricky since its hardware—be it a wire, sawtooth, or D-ring hanger—can be located anywhere from a half-inch to three inches below the top edge of the frame. Know exactly where to put your wall hanger to ensure the frame’s center is 57 inches above the floor using a few quick calculations:
STEP 1: Divide the height of the frame in half.
STEP 2: From this number, subtract the distance from the top of the hardware to the top of the picture frame itself. (If your picture frame has a wire, pull the wire taut when measuring.)
STEP 3: Add the resulting figure to 57 inches.
STEP 4: Measure this distance from any point on the floor and mark the spot on the wall. This is where you should install the wall-mounting hardware to hang your picture.
Ready, set, mount. Ensure that your project won’t come crashing down from its new height later on by selecting wall-mounting hardware—such as a standard picture-hanging nail, adhesive-backed 3M Command Sawtooth Picture Hanger, or tool-free High & Mighty™ wall hanger—based on the weight of your frame. Then, follow manufacturer instructions to install and check your work with a level to perfectly hang your photo for all to see.
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