How to hang art - a simple guide

How to hang art - a simple guide


Hanging wall art is an enjoyable and creative process that requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, especially if the pieces are valuable or sentimental to you. It's important to take the time to carefully consider both the technical and aesthetic aspects of hanging artwork in order to ensure that it is displayed to its best advantage.

In this article, we'll provide some tips and guidelines for hanging artwork, including considerations for location, lighting, and hardware. Whether you're a seasoned art collector or just looking to add a personal touch to your home, these tips will help you confidently and beautifully display your artwork.

fine-art piece hanging above sofa in living roomArtwork in image above by Andreas Ortner

Choosing a location

It all starts with choosing the right location for your new fine-art pieces. Whether you’ll be hanging the pieces in the living room, hallway, bedroom or kitchen, the tips below will help you make the most out of your fine-art piece.

Choosing a location for a fine-art piece

Artwork in image above by Mathieu Puga

The effect of height

How high art should be hung is an ever recurring question and there is not one correct answer. There are however a few guidelines that can help you create a beautiful room. The three main factors to take into account are the size of the piece or pieces of art, the height of the room and the expected viewing height.

The height of the walls in the room can play a big role in the appearance of your artwork. If the walls are very high, you may want to hang the piece higher up on the wall to take advantage of the vertical space. On the other hand, if the walls are lower, you may want to hang the piece at a more traditional height. What is this ‘traditional height’ you may ask?

A common rule of thumb is to hang the center of an art piece at an average viewing height of about 60 inches or 1,50m. This is a great starting point, but we do recommend adjusting the height for your own length. So hang the art at your viewing height.

Aside from this, wall art tends to look best when it is hung at a height about 2/3rd of the height of the wall. Lastly, adjust for the expected use of the room. For example, if it's a living room where people will spend a lot of time sitting, you may want to hang the artwork lower than if it would’ve been in a hallway or a stairwell.

We wrote a full article about choosing the right size art and where to hang it for more information.

hanging fine-art photography on a less tall wall hanging fine-art on a high wallArtwork in images above by Jildo Tim Hof

The effect of size

The size of the artwork is another important factor to consider when choosing a location. A large piece may be better suited to a larger wall, while a smaller piece may be overwhelmed on a wall that is too big. It's also important to engage as much of the wall as possible and orient the collection in the shape of the wall. A tightly-grouped even number of pieces can work great to balance out a large space or a high wall, but remember to choose smaller pieces for narrow walls and larger canvas wall art pieces for big walls.

Artwork in image above by Andreas Ortner

Other factors to consider

In addition to height and size, there are some other factors to consider when choosing a location for your artwork. These include lighting, wall color, proximity to other decor, and personal preference. Consider the natural light in the room where you'll be hanging the piece and choose a location that will either be illuminated by that light or more artificially lit, depending on the amount of natural light in the room. The color of the wall can also have an impact on the appearance of the artwork. You can choose a neutral-colored wall to allow the artwork to stand out or a brightly-colored wall to create visual impact. 

For more information on the effect of wall colors and frame colors please read our in depth article here.

The proximity of the artwork to other decor in the room is also important, so consider hanging it near other pieces of artwork to create a cohesive display or on a wall that is relatively bare to give the piece more visual impact. Ultimately, the location of the artwork is a matter of personal preference, so don't be afraid to experiment with different locations and see what looks best to you!

collage of fine-art photography pieces
Artworks in image above by Jildo Tim Hof

The effect of different light arrangements

Having your art properly lit can make or break an art wall. The perception and impact of your art is quite dependent on the light in which it is presented. Direct lighting creates an entirely different experience and ambience than indirect lighting does and this affects your art as well. In this section, we will delve into the topic of lighting and how it affects the appearance of your artwork. We'll cover several different types of lighting, including ambient, direct, indirect, and adjustable lighting, and provide tips for choosing the best lighting for your fine-art.

Ambient Lighting

Room lighting, including natural and artificial sources such as overhead lights or lamps, should provide enough illumination for the artwork. Consider the light's intensity, direction, and timing, and how they affect the artwork. For instance, a piece with vivid colors might need softer, indirect lighting, while a black and white photograph can withstand more direct lighting.

properly lit fine-art piece in a museum style setting
Artwork in image above by Erica Ferraroni

Direct Lighting

Track lighting or picture lights that provide focused light can highlight specific pieces, but be cautious not to use too much, as it can cause harsh shadows and dull the colors. Adjustable dimmer switches or light bulbs can help control the intensity of the light and find the optimal balance for your artwork.

Fine-art photography print hanging on wall with indirect lightingArtwork in image above by Chris König

Indirect Lighting

Light that bounces off the walls or ceiling creates a gentle and subtle lighting effect. A big upside of the indirect lighting is that it creates no shadows or harsh lines and allows for a softer, more subtle viewing experience. You can achieve this with wall sconces, floor lamps, or candles.

Hanging wall art piece showing indirect lightingArtworks in image above by Tom Kluyver

Adjustable Lighting

Being able to adjust the lighting allows you to customize it based on the time of day or the artwork's needs. This is especially useful if you have a variety of art pieces, as each may require different lighting conditions. Consider using spots or dimmable lights to be able to create the right atmosphere at different times of the day and year.

In conclusion, lighting is a crucial aspect of showcasing artwork and should not be overlooked. By following these tips, you can find the right lighting for your artwork and create a beautiful display. And again, what works for one piece may not work for another and what works for someone else may not be to your liking, so feel free to experiment with different lighting setups to find what works best for your art and personal taste.

How to arrange art?

If you are hanging an individual piece, then you’re almost ready to hang your artwork!
If you are working with multiple pieces of art, there are a few other things that you might want to consider.

Generally speaking, when it comes to gallery walls, it's best to choose prints and photos with a similar theme and consistent frames for a cohesive look. All pieces should be equally spaced on the wall, to avoid creating a wall that feels out of place or chaotic even.
We recommended hanging medium and large pieces with 5-10 cm spacing between them and smaller pieces with 3-5 cm spacing. This is easiest if all pieces are of the same size, but even if they aren’t you can create a great looking art wall by having at least one line of spacing between the art pieces that is consistent. 

Three fine-art pieces hanging side by side showing proper spacingArtworks in image above by Jildo Tim Hof

When you're hanging two pieces, it’s normally best to treat them as one and hang them at the preferred height from the floor equally spaced from the center of the grouping. The same rule applies to groups of three and four. The importance of this is easily seen when looking at art centered above furniture, like a sofa or dining table.

Want to know more about spacing your art and furniture? Read more

Two art pieces with enough spacing hanging next to each other on a wallArtworks in image above by Jildo Tim Hof

Whether you’re hanging art in even or odd numbers is also an important consideration. In any case, try to keep the spacing between the pieces the same, to create a cohesive feeling. Even numbers are more suited for arrangements that consist of multiple rows or columns, while uneven numbers generally look better in a single row or column. For a hallway or sofa wall, tall or narrow art can add volume to the space without appearing crowded. A normal spacing of 8-15cm between each frame is recommended in this case. As a rule of thumb you can use your hand, with your fingers closed, to determine the spacing.

Collage of equally spaced fine-art printsArtworks in image above by Marco Maljaars

Before you start hanging your art, it's helpful to arrange the pieces on a table or on the floor and move them around until you have an arrangement that you like. When working with large pieces it might be easier to take a picture of every piece, which you can then print and use to lay out and try different arrangements.

Once you have found an arrangement you like you can then trace around each piece on a large piece of paper and use that paper as a template when hanging the pieces on the wall.

Tape outline on wall, showing where an artpiece would come

Hanging the pieces

When it comes to hanging wall art, the type of wall and the weight of the object being hung can greatly affect the hardware that is required. Most walls are constructed with a hollow framework covered by relatively soft plaster or drywall, making it difficult to locate the studs and sometimes they may not be spaced where you want to hang the art. For these surfaces, hardware hangers designed for hollow walls are the solution. Hardware stores typically stock these in various sizes.

Concrete walls or brick walls, on the other hand, require a different approach. Lead wall plugs, available at most building supply stores, are used to support a hanging screw. A power drill with a carbide-tipped bit is used to create a hole for the plug, which is then tapped into place and the screw inserted. Hardware dealers can recommend the correct screw and bit sizes for this type of wall.

Wood paneling is an ideal surface for hanging wall art. The most common hardware for this type of wall is wood screws, which are easy to install with a screwdriver. This is a great option for home offices, where paneled walls can provide a perfect backdrop for a hanging picture.

When it comes to the actual hardware for hanging pictures, there are a variety of options to choose from. A picture hanger, which typically consists of an angled nail and metal hook, provides adequate support for most framed pictures. For larger frames, it is often recommended to use two or more hangers. Wall anchors, made of plastic or nylon, function as sleeves into which a screw can be tightened. A pilot hole must be drilled to the correct size, and then the anchor is tapped into place and the screw tightened. This type of hardware is recommended for lightweight brackets on drywall or plaster.

Artwork in image above by Tom Kluyver

Expansion bolts can be hammered into the wall without the need for a drill. The bolt is turned clockwise with a flat-head screwdriver and secured by turning it counter-clockwise. This type of hardware is recommended for heavier objects like mirrors, shelf units, and brackets.

Toggle bolts, on the other hand, have spring-activated “wings” that fold out once inside the wall. The bolt is drilled into the wall and tightened with a screwdriver, causing the wings to expand and grip the wall. Toggle bolts are a good choice for heavier jobs, but once installed, removing the bolt from the wall will cause the wings to detach and fall behind the wall.

It is important to note that if you are unsure about the construction material, the hardware, or the technique to hang the art, it is best to seek the help of a professional. This will ensure that your wall art is securely hung and won't cause any damage to your walls or the artwork itself.

Wall with two hanging fine-art photography piecesArtwork in image above by Chris König


When choosing a location for your art, it is important to think about the height and size of the piece, as well as the light arrangements in the room. Experimenting with different arrangements and displaying your art in different ways can bring a fresh and personal touch to any room.

When it comes to the wall itself, it's crucial to know the type of surface you're working with and the hardware that will provide the best support. If you're ever unsure, it's always a good idea to seek the advice of a professional. With these tips in mind, we encourage you to embrace the art of hanging wall art and transform your space into a beautiful and personalized reflection of your taste and style.

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