How to Hang Artwork and Framed Photos

Purchasing art is easy – it’s hanging art that’s difficult. Choosing the right frame, the right height, and the best arrangement is going to ensure you get the finest overall look. It’s also essential to properly secure the artwork, so it doesn’t come crashing to the floor when someone bumps the wall. Lighting, materials, and accompanying furniture should also be considered before you hang the art.

All of these considerations can make the process of hanging artwork daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to take the pain out of hanging artwork. You can enliven walls without giving yourself a headache. You only need to employ these proven strategies.


You may be considering ornate, multi-colored frames. Are you sure this is a good idea? Are you certain these frames will fit in with your current color scape? Do they truly match each other? recommends that you “keep it simple.” Don’t go gaudy, or vintage, or colorful. Instead, let the artwork be the source of color. Choose frames in black, and mat backgrounds that are white. “Then have all your art framed the same way.” This creates an understated, uniform look, and makes the actual art (or photo) the focal piece.


If you’re only hanging a single piece of art, you should find that placing the piece at eye-level is the best possible placement. Hanging an arrangement requires a bit more effort because you’ll want every piece in the arrangement to look perfect. Better Homes and Gardens recommends that you “Think it through,” and “Carefully determine your arrangement before you start banging holes in the wall.” Do a trial run by cutting the outline of your frames out of craft paper, and then taping those outlines to the wall. You can move your paper frames around until you find the best possible arrangement for your space.

It’s important to consider the placement of furniture. Is there anything above or below the artwork, such as a bookshelf or a sofa? If so, you’ll need to be absolutely certain the artwork works with this furniture. For example, a small framed photograph isn’t going to look great over a bulky sofa. Bulky furniture should be complimented by murals, and larger-sized paintings.


Rather than depreciate the value of your home (or, risk a security deposit if you’re living in an apartment), use picture-hanging hooks instead of a hammer and nails. There are a few different types of picture hooks, and they vary by weight. Most hooks are capable of holding artwork that weighs 30 pounds or less. Despite this, the owner of a NYC based professional art placement service, David Kassel, recommends using two hooks per piece. “Not only does this provide added security, but it helps art remain level over time, compared to items hung from a single point.”


Even if you purchased your art from a thrift store, you can make it look drastically more expensive with the right lighting. Picture frame lights and other accessories positioned around the piece will bring its colors to life and draw the eyes of visitors. The result is a more visually appealing piece of art, and extra lighting for your space.

When it comes to artwork, buying is the fun part. Hanging is the not-so-fun, actually-pretty-hard part. If you’re careful, and thoughtful about placement and what you’re using to hang the piece, you should be able to eliminate most of the heavy work associated with art hanging. One more piece of advice – whenever possible, recruit a friend or family member to assist you with the job.  


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