One of the quickest, sure fire ways of ruining the look and feeling of a space is hanging your Art incorrectly. By this I mean the hideous effect hanging something waaaaay to high, or waaaay to low has on your environment (creating the effect of the Lilliputians or the Brobdingnagians). It immediately throws off the scale and balance to everything in a room, drawing glaring attention to any and every flaw in a room, and thereby minimizing any presence the Artwork actually has itself. Even for the less detail oriented viewer it is jarring…So, How high should it be mounted on the wall? How should your Art be arranged with other pieces to create an inspired statement that personifies the feeling of who and what you want to convey? Last but NOT least, how can you be sure that you have hung your Artwork in a safe and secure manner that won’t end up crashing to the floor while you are having a Dinner Party, or worse yet on top of you or a guest while sitting? Lets go over a few points that have helped me immensely:
The Basics of Hanging Art
While we always think we need a massive 4″ screw or framing nail to hold our Art piece securely, it is actually the opposite that is required and in fact MUCH safer. The best option believe it or not, is always the picture hanging hook, contrary to popular belief. Picture-hanging hooks (rather than heavy nails or screws) may seem dainty but in fact are engineered to support the weight of your Art in a much more scientific manner as they go into the wall on an angle, thereby distributing the weight to the wall in a much wider and safer manner, it comes down to Physics (something I sadly ignored in school). However, you MUST buy the right type of hook for your artwork’s weight for this formula to work correctly. There are several types of Picture hanging hooks and weight based options. A one-nail picture hook holds things that are 30 pounds or lighter, while a two-nail picture hook holds pieces that are about 50 pounds and a three-nail picture hook holds pieces that are about 75 to 100 pounds. Your local Home Depot or Lowes have ENTIRE aisles dedicated to this project
I always prefer to use 2 picture hooks per artwork whenever possible (peace of mind). Not only does this provide added security but it helps art remain level over time and minimize the chance of having that mid-way Titanic appearance that single hook Art often gets from cleaning, large parties or vibrations. The optimum scenario is to install two D-rings into the frame of the Art piece (rather than a wire on the back of the frame). The weight of the Art piece is then divided into 2 weight points rather than one which are then distributed into the wall by the picture hanging hooks. This makes the piece MUCH more stable ….albeit a bit more labour intensive to actually hang the piece…remember the adage “Measure 3 times and drill or hammer once”. By having it hung tightly off the D-rings you totally eliminate the possible chance of a pendulum effect which throws a much more intense stress upon the support system of the Art piece. Of course this is a bit more time consuming and can only be accomplished with the usage of a level and ruler to ensure that both the picture hooks and D-rings are aligned.
Make and Artful Arrangement of your Art
When you’re ready to hang the art, don’t just hang a big piece over your sofa and a piece over a console, THINK about how you want the room to feel, what message you want to convey and most importantly, never hang anything that isn’t meaningful to you. It is often best to have a “right hand man/woman” when hanging Art work, especially if you want to create a Gallery style look with various pieces. A second set of eyes is ALWAYS better than one. It is always a great help to have someone hold a piece up before making the decision so you can see if from various angles so that you can get a sense of the proportions, how the neighbouring colours effect the piece or vice-versa and see how it accents the overall Design aesthetic of your space. A single mid sized to large piece Art work is generally as a rule of thumb (but this totally depends on your space and how you are grouping items) is to have the mid level of the piece at 60 inches above the floor. The same would apply to 2 pieces that you are hanging as 1 grouping. Treat them as one unit and find the center point between them and use the same 60 inch height rule. When deciding on the spacing you should put between a tighter grouping of pieces I usually opt for 2 or 3 inches spacing between art on the same wall that are clustered together.
Of course you aren’t just relegated to doing a grouping in a grid (which is a stunning effect for a very modern or clean lined setting). Why not try a “Salon” style grouping…otherwise known as a gallery installation. For this a group of often disparate Art pieces, found objects, mirrors and prized possessions can create a jaw dropping display, often with little expense. It is from the grouping they gain their power and can totally transform a room. Remember, nothing is written in stone, feel free to change your pieces around whenever you like. It will freshen up how you see your home and add a new feeling and splash of excitement. Personally, I have always had a “thing” for gallery walls and how a sexy and vibrant grouping of Art can completely transform a room from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether you decide to do your grouping haphazard, grid like, asymmetric, symmetric wall to wall and floor to ceiling, the key is to try it. There really is no one correct opinion so feel free to experiment and try a variety of looks. You can use a variety of frames, sizes and finishes OR repeat the same frame size and finish but vary the Art work within. An easy solution to see which option works best for you and your room is to cut out newspaper the size of your various pieces and use painters tape to attach them to the walls. Then stand back and try every configuration you can think of until it just “feels right”. Be bold, be brave and most importantly…send me your photos.
Drama with a capital D… from Elle Decor
A brilliant residence designed by the amazing Jeffrey Bilhuber as featured in Elle Decor