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How to hang artwork in 4 easy steps

January 16, 2024

Follow these professional tips and your art will be beautifully balanced inside your space. 

Your artwork was delivered in pristine condition and looks AMAZING!  You’re so excited to have this original work and can’t wait to show it off. But you have to get it on the wall.  Where’s the best spot? How do you measure correctly? What tools do you need? HELP!!!

It’s actually not as difficult as it may seem if you plan and have the right equipment. In fact, you’ll probably do such a great job installing your own artwork that your friends will want your help with their artwork installs!

This article will only speak about single artworks, not diptychs (series of 2) or triptychs (series of 3) as hanging those are a bit more complicated.

1.) MEASURE THE HEIGHT

How To Hang Artwork In 4 Easy Steps Abstract Painting - Hang Artwork 1

Artwork: 5163 by Annette Poitau. 48″ x 60″, oil on canvas [view artwork]

Break out a measuring tape and measure the height of your art piece or check the invoice for the dimensions.  Once you have the height in inches, divide that number by 2 to get the “center” measurement.

For this example, we’ll use the dimensions of the artwork pictured. The height is 48 inches so center is 24 inches.

For a comfortable display, aim for 60 inches from the ground to the center of the piece – average eye level.

Next: measure 60 inches up from the floor and mark the wall with a piece of painters tape. Sixty inches up is average eye level. From there, measure 24 inches up (half of the painting’s height) and mark with painters tape. That top mark is where the top of your painting will sit.

If the artwork is being placed over a piece of furniture, you will want the artwork to sit centered with the furniture. If the artwork is going on a blank wall, you will measure the width of the wall and divide by 2. Then measure the width of the artwork and divide by 2.

Position the blue painters’ tape that you used to determine the center height so that it sits at the center-width portion of the wall.

Hanging Art In 4 Easy Steps Bright Portrait(1) - Hang Artwork 2

Industrial designer, Erika Cross centers her squiggle artwork during an Embrace Creatives commercial installation.

EXPERT TIP: If the artwork is small enough – save nails/screws and reduce the amount of holes you put in your walls – cut a piece of paper to the same dimensions and measure. Tape the paper to the wall and eyeball the results.

Grow your collection with quality, hand-picked local artworks.

2.) DO NOT CROWD THE ARTWORK

How To Hang Artwork In 4 Easy Steps Sustainable Artwork - Hang Artwork 3

Artwork: Glacial Melt by Leslie Sobel. 18″H × 24″W, encaustic and resin on panel. [view artwork]

Your artwork investment –  your art collection is super important.  It’s emotional – speaking the artist’s voice. It’s powerful – expanding your personality. You do not want to crowd the artwork out, making it less worthy than it is.

When I curate my metro Detroit gallery, EC Detroit, whether I exhibit 80 pieces or 25, I make sure that all of the artwork has “room to breathe”.

Leave enough surrounding space, what some people call “white space”, and I call “negative space” for the most comfortable look.

If you are installing a group of different artworks on one wall, you can hang them unevenly, but make sure there is negative space on all four sides.  Measure somewhere between three to six-inches for a visually pleasing amount of negative space – breathing room between artworks.

EXPERT TIP: If 60 inches from the floor is too close to the top of your couch or other piece of furniture, and you’re concerned that the artwork will get knocked, you can move the center point higher.

3.) ORIENT THE ARTWORK THE CORRECT WAY

How To Artwork Abstract Geometric Painting - Hang Artwork 4

Artwork: Untitled II 2022 by Luzhen Qiu. 60″ x 48″, acrylic, oil on canvas. this painting is currently on exhibit in our gallery. Contact Andrea Bogart for more information.

When searching for artwrok for a particular space, the layout of the piece (vertical or horizontal) will depend on the space you’re working with. The rule of thumb is that if you have a wide wall,  you want a wide artwork and if you have a tall wall, you want a tall artwork. Basically, you want to emphasize the more important dimension of the wall (height or width).

Installing a vertical piece on a tall wall will give you a better white space balance and draw the eye up. If you were to place a horizontal (wide) artwork on a tall wall, the artwork would almost “split” the wall in two, causing an awkward visual break.

However, you could place two horizontal artworks (diptych) stacked one on top of another (with 6 – 10 inches of negative space in between) on a tall wall.  That would give the illusion of one large artwork and increase the excitement of the design.

4.) DON’T FIGHT THE FURNITURE

Hanging Art In 4 Easy Steps Bright Portrait - Hang Artwork 5

Artwork: Visions by Shannon Mack. 36″H × 36″W, multi media on canvas. [view artwork]

The final step when you are buying art to sit above a piece of furniture is to pay attention to how large the artwork is in relation to the furniture – most commonly a sofa, bed, table, or drawer.

For art above furniture, you want that piece to span about two-thirds the width of whatever furniture is below. Example, a king-sized bed is 76 inches wide so the artwork width should be approximately 50.5 inches wide.

In addition, leave about six to 10 inches between the furniture and the art so the overall look is well balanced and visually appealing. Again, pay attention to head height so no one’s noggin’ smacks the artwork.

EXPERT TIP: If 60 inches from the floor is too close to the top of your couch or other piece of furniture, and you’re concerned that the artwork will get knocked, you can move the center point higher.

When installing artwork, you may need a frame to finish the look. Not sure how to go about buying the right frame for your art collection? I’ve written an easy to follow guide for beginners. Follow these expert-approved steps.

This article was written by Andrea Bogart, founder and lead art advisor of Embrace Creatives.

For help finding the right artwork for your home or office, reach out to Andrea here. Interior professionals can request white glove, art consulting or custom pieces, easily.

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