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Publication Date: 2016-04-05

Design Insights

6 Tips for Hanging Art

If you’ve made the effort to frame some prints you love for your walls then in theory it’s a job done isn’t it? Anyone who has spent hours (days, weeks…) deliberating over how you actually start a “gallery wall” or just where to put that one random thing they love, will know that this is not really the case. Actually getting art up can feel like the real task – unless you’re unphased by the sight of bare walls.

Maybe we’ve spent too many weeks staring at our own newly framed things attracting dust from their temporary position on the floor – using “newly” and “temporary” very loosely. But it felt like a good time to bring together some hints for hanging art so that you won’t go through the same agonising process. Thus, below are some nuggets of advice alongside ideas for how to make your walls a place to pause over.

Photography by Martin Kaufmann​​​​​​​

1. Find the Height. Broadly speaking, it works to hang an art work at the average human’s eye-height. Apparently galleries work to a 57 inch centre height based on this idea, which is a bit lower than you might naturally think of doing. However, if your room has low ceilings or you happen to be very tall, picture the wall carved up into four vertical sections and hang your art in the third quadrant from the floor. Equally, if you’re hanging things on your children’s walls then think of their eye-line. Above: Image from Killiehuntly Farmhouse

Image from Gert Voorjans

2. Group the Eclectic. If you are hanging a varied collection of art (already collected) rather than a single piece, then treat the whole lot as a single piece to determine a good hanging height. Some stylists swear by cutting out the shapes of the artwork in brown paper first to play about with and determine the layout before getting the power drill out.

However, if you’re starting a collection on the wall and have no idea how big it will grow, find a central point – such as this desk shown above – and centre your first piece above it. Thereafter, take it as it comes with bit of old fashioned gung-ho spirit. If it’s going to evolve into something as large as designer Gert Voorjans’ impressive collection then safety-in-numbers should be enough of a formula to rely on.

Image from Walter Knoll

When working with a long wall, as above, take that shape as your lead and try out this idea of adding your art in a long line – as perfectly or irregularly as you fancy. If it follows the desk and the artwork is at eye level when sitting down then even better. For a short section of wall, try the opposite and go for a vertical strip of artwork instead.

Image from Wrong for Hay

3. Keep a Theme Together.  In this beautiful townhouse in St James’ Park – a showroom space for Wrong for Hay and Emily’s House London – a collection of Nathalie du Pasquier prints is positioned directly above a sofa taking the outline of this piece of furniture as a guide for positioning. The impact of hanging the prints as a group is far greater than scattering the prints around the building individually.


Image from Cote Maison

This symmetrical type of layout is a tried and tested way of grouping like with like. However, if you like to go against the grain, this idea by Annabel Gueret is a lovely one to steal. The designer collected 19th Century Barbizon paintings from flea markets and eBay to create an unusual, frame-free composition above her sofa that in her words, “modernises them.” Quite so, and we’re currently all over eBay ourselves. Actually sticking frameless pieces to the wall? We have it on good authority from an artist that BluTac is a friend not to be feared. Above: The home of Annabel Gueret (see the rest of the house and many more ideas for art display)

4. Laugh in the Face of the Rule Book—Tiny Art Deserves Space. Got a tiny art object that you want to display? Why wouldn’t you put it on the door frame? This looks sweet and draws the eye up to a space that is often neglected.

It’s been said that going for large-scale art on any wall is the best idea, but in fact when you see something small like this, a mask or a miniature portrait on a wall, it not only gives the room a twist, it encourages people to go for a proper peer. Sort of like adding a brooch to a coat. Above: Cromarty by Farrow & Ball on the walls of this bedroom

5. Put Art in Unexpected Places. A gallery wall as you climb upstairs is expected. A gallery wall hiding in a dark uninteresting corner underneath the stairs is a nice surprise. This works especially well as the botanical prints form a group, positioned in a graphic tall line (as mentioned above) that in itself makes a statement. The prints also tone perfectly with the wooden stairs. Above: Halbhaus house by Jonathan Tuckey Design

Putting framed art above your bath is as indulgent as putting an expensive rug in front of it – i.e. you’ll find this sort of thing in the swankiest of homes. The owner of this house, Gert Voorjans—also a designer responsible for Dries Van Noten boutique interiors around the world—knows everything there is to know about swanky as you’ll see from the rest of his home. Above: Bathroom from the home of designer Gert Voorjans.

Image from Lorenzo Castillo

6. What is Art? You Decide. If an old school telephone speaks to you as a display piece, then go for it. This scene is from a house by Madrid designer Lorenzo Castillo – another one choc full of good ideas for hanging art.

Article by Jill Macnair


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