Hanging and arranging framed art can be more challenging than it first appears. What is the proper position on the wall? Where do you hang it relative to furniture? How can you hang it if you’re working by yourself? How do you avoid putting holes in the wall until you know the positioning is right? These are just a few of the questions that confront you as you grapple with the issue (literally). Let’s see if we can provide some helpful tips for hanging and arranging framed art.
Eye Level Considerations
As a rule of thumb, framed art should be hung at eye level. But of course eye level varies from person to person. And just exactly what part of the picture is supposed to be eye level, the focal point of the art, the middle of the picture, the top edge of the frame? Well, if the average height of a man in the United States is 5 feet 9 inches, and the average height of a woman is 5 feet 4 inches, than average eye level is about 5 feet. The focal point of the art, the part that the viewer’s eye will discover first, should be about 5 feet above the floor.
Hanging Relative to Furniture
All that changes when you’re hanging relative to furniture or to an architectural element like a fireplace. Generally, you’ll want to have the bottom edge of the framed art 8-10 inches above a couch regardless of ceiling height. The same will be true of the mantle of a fireplace.
Let’s assume for a moment that you’re not hanging relative to furniture. If that’s the case, your next challenge will be to center the frame left to right on the wall. That’s easy if you want to hang it in the center of the wall; all you have to do is measure the width of the wall and divide it in half. But if you want to hang the picture in an open space between two existing pictures or between other wall elements, you’ll have a choice. Either measure the space between elements and divide it in half, or set the frame on the floor against the wall below where you’re considering hanging it and step back to get a feel for the positioning, and then measure up from the floor at that point to 5 feet and make a vertical mark in pencil on the wall.
Remember, the mark represents the focal point of the art, not where the hangers will go. To find where the hangers will go, have an assistant hold the framed art against the wall with the focal point at eye level. While they are doing this, make a small, light pencil line on the wall at the bottom of the frame. Then set the framed art down and measure the distance from the bottom of the frame to the hanging wire. Let’s say, for example, that it’s 18” from the bottom of the frame to the hanging wire. If that’s the case, you will want to measure up 18” from the mark on the wall that indicates the bottom of the frame and that’s where the hanger will go.
Using Two Hangers
Many people prefer to hang from two hangers as it keeps the frame level and more secure. To place two hangers, measure the width of the frame and divide it by four to get the distance from the center point to where the hangers will go. For example, if the frame is 40” wide, each hook should be about 10” from the center point.
To actually locate the position of each hanger you’ll need a carpenter’s level and a yardstick or a center finding ruler. Place the yardstick at the hanger mark and place the level on top of it. Measure out from the center point, staying level, and make cross-hair marks on the wall.
You’re almost there but you still have to compensate for the distance from the bottom of the hooks (where the wire will actually go) and the tops of the hangers where the nail will be driven. The distance is typically one inch. You can measure up one inch and make another mark above the crosshair mark, or you can simply place the bottom of the hook at the crosshair mark and drive the nail through the hole at the top of each hook.
Lift the framed art and arrange the wire over the hooks. Then place the carpenter’s level on top of the frame and adjust it until its level.
What if you’re working alone?
Lay a sheet of Kraft paper on a table and place the frame on top of it. Trace around the frame and cut the Kraft paper so it conforms in size to the frame. Next, measure the distance from the wire to the top of the frame. Then measure down the same distance from the top edge of the Kraft paper and make a mark on the Kraft paper.
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