PRES Resources

PRES® Articles

THE ART OF HANGING ART from a Professional!

By Dana J. Smithers

Have you ever walked into someone's home and had to really control yourself not to walk over to a piece of art and rehang it. I have, and anyone in the business of decorating, redesigning or staging spends hours doing behind the scenes work that our clients will never know we have done. Since I teach courses in Redesign and Home Staging I always tell my students that even though the client's don't know what we do, I can sleep soundly at night because I know I hung the art professionally.

Art is really part of the 'icing on the cake' along with accessories (that's a whole other topic) and is one of the key steps in creating a professional look in your home. There is an abundance of different styles and price ranges of art available to all of us. The important thing in choosing your art is to ensure that is coordinates with the style of your home. Mixing different styles of art such as some traditional pieces with modern art can create a really personal style for you.

So what is so difficult about hanging art? Well as a professional decorator, home stager and redesigner I have worked in 100s of clients homes and have hung 1000s of pieces of art. These are some of the most common mistakes people make: 1) the art is too high - you know the kind you strain your neck to look at; 2) there are individual pieces of art all over the house that actually belong together as a cohesive grouping; 3) the art does not have the proper hanging screws and/or wire on the back and finally 4) the art is not hung with the proper hooks.

If you follow these easy steps you can have hang your art like the professionals!

I. For Art Over an Object such as a Table, Sofa, Fireplace, etc.

A. Before you hang the Art:

  1. Decide which art you are going to group together. This decision is based on finding a common element that allows the art to work together i.e. theme, colour, style, etc. Add surprise pieces like masks, fans, hats, etc.

  2. Lay them on the floor with the heavier piece(s) on the bottom and line up the bottoms or centre them with each other. For smaller pictures space them approximately 1" apart and for larger pieces 2" apart.

  3. Make the basic outline shape of a rectangle or a square.

  4. The length of the grouping should be approximately 2/3 of the object you are placing the art over e.g. if the art grouping is going over a table of 60" long, then the ideal grouping would be 40' in length.

B. Hanging the Art:

  1. To determine the number of picture hangers you need and where to put them follow this rule.

    1. For pictures under 30" you will only need one proper weight hook which you will place at the centre e.g. if your one piece is 36" then you mark centre at 18" with the tack.

    2. If a picture is 30" and over AND has glass use 2 hooks. To determine where to place the hooks for this size art measure and mark the centre with sticky tack. Then measure from the centre tack to the end and find centre. Place another piece of tack here. Do this on both sides so now you will have a piece of tack in the centre, and 2 more halfway between centre and the end of the picture.

  2. To determine the height follow this 'Art Height Guideline' and remember it is only a guideline there are other factors that determine how to hang art. For now, we will keep it simple for you. Place the art 4 - 10" over an object such as a sofa, table, fireplace, etc.

  3. Mark the centre or (quarters if over 30") with a pencil. Make a short (1/2") horizontal pencil line across and then a short (1/2") vertical line down so that you have made an upside down 'T'. If over 30" then you need to make 2 marks as this is where you will hang both hooks.

  4. If the picture has a wire then find centre and measure the distance from the wire to the top of the picture. If it is 7" then you will make another pencil mark exactly 7" from your original upside down 'T' mark. It is best to use a level or laser level to make sure it is lined up.

  5. To hammer in your hook place the bottom of the hook where the 'T' line intersects (Many people put the nail here and if you are using a hook it must be the bottom of the hook). Hammer in on a diagonal. Give it a tug to make sure it is in solidly.

  6. If the picture can only be hung from the sides then follow the same steps as above except measure from the side hook to the top of the picture.

  7. If the picture has a 'saw tooth' hook (jagged ' piece of metal - 1" long) then follow the same steps as above. Hang it with a 1" nail and put sticky tack on the two bottom corners to keep it in place as these always move!

  8. To determine the type of hook to use for most pictures with wire you can find picture hangers at hardware and art stores. They will tell you the weight the hanger will hold. For small pictures often 1" nails will work just fine. If you have not tried the new 'dry wall hangers' with the curved ends check them out at Home Depot. They hold up to 150 pounds and are easy to use in drywall and some wood paneling.

  9. Best tools to use are levels, lasers, hanging level wall tool for smaller pictures. All of these products can be purchased at big box hardware stores.

Use something interesting besides just a piece of art!    Create a gorgeous vignette that shows off your style!
Piece of Art    Gorgeous Vignette

II. For Floating Art such as Photo Galleries, large stand alone prints, etc.

A. Before you hang the Art:

  1. Follow all of the same steps above except for determining the height.

  2. To determine the height follow this 'Art Height Guideline' and remember it is only a guideline there are other factors that determine how to hang art. For now, we will keep it simple for you. Once you have determined your placement find the centre of the side of the art and put a piece of sticky tack here e.g. if the art is 52" in length the tack goes on the side at 26". On the wall put a piece of sticky tack 56" - 60" from the floor. (The larger the piece of floating art the closer to 56" you want it to be.) Line up both pieces of sticky tack i.e. the piece of art has one on its side and the wall has a piece of sticky tack.

    Once they are lined up then make your pencil mark at the top and follow the same steps in B. Hanging the Art.

    This was measured out on the floor before being hung. It was hung using the 'hanging level' and placed 1" apart.    Floating art and grouped art work well together with the same garden theme!
    Hanging Level    Garden Theme

TIP: To remove your pencil marks use Mr. Clean Magic Erase. Be careful with freshly painted walls though rub sparingly.


About the Author

Dana J. Smithers, President of the PRES Staging Resource Centre is the author of Start & Run a Home Staging Business, and has written several eBooks for the DIY Home Seller. She appears regularly on television, international radio, podcasts and is a frequent guest speaker at conferences. She left a successful 20 year corporate job to pursue her passion of decorating and teaching and fell in love with the results one-day home makeovers could bring. She launched her first solopreneur business, Sun On My Back Redesigns over a decade ago and now thrives on teaching her certified professional PRES® staging training courses on-line and off-line. She offers business support through coaching and mentoring home stagers worldwide; professional development courses, teleseminars and webinars so graduates are supported and the learning is on-going. In 2002 she was a founding member of the Canadian ReDesigners Association and several years ago launched her own PRES® Staging Resource Centre. She is passionately committed to the success of women entrepreneurs in the home staging industry and is expanding her reach to other countries around the world where home staging is just becoming known.


Article Re-print Permission: You may use this article for your own web site, blog or printed material. Please be sure to include the "About the Author" resource box in all uses of this article.