How’s it Hanging?

There are people who go around in life correcting the grammar mistakes of others. They feel compelled to right the apostrophe wrongs, wrangle the dangling participle or suggest fewer words to make us all better writers. Their suggestions come out of the blue, but I do appreciate their quest – we all make mistakes, we can all learn.


When it comes to decorating, I feel like the grammar police, offering up the same unsolicited advice over and over.  Sometimes this urge is quite strong. I’ll be driving through a neighborhood, see this decorating mistake through a window and I just want to get out of my car, knock on the door and explain how one little adjustment can make a big difference.  I know, it’s a sickness.  I promise, I hold myself back. I don’t randomly knock on anyone’s door.

But when I’m on a consultation and see photos, paintings or framed words of wisdom hung too high, I feel a tug in my heart.  Perhaps I’ve only been asked to provide paint color suggestions or choose a kitchen countertop…I can’t help it. I have to suggest that the art be lowered to the proper height for the room. 

Is your artwork hung too high? As you sit reading this, look up at the nearest piece of art.  If you have to tilt your head up more than 45 degrees, it’s hung too high. 

As you walk up the stairs, do you feel as if those people in that portrait up there are looking out over a cliff, gazing into a far-off horizon? If so, bring ’em down. 

As you walk through your halls, do you feel as if you’re looking right into the painting and photos? Good! You’re on the right track.

The general rule is this:  in a dining room, living room, family room, bedroom, library – anywhere you sit or recline – place the art so when you’re sitting, you only have to look up 45 degrees to comfortably view it.  Image

In a hall or stairway, place the art so when you walk by, you don’t look up or down to view it – it’s at eye level.  What if you’re short and your better half is tall and “Eye level” has a different meaning to each of you?  Compromise is key.  57″ from the floor up to the center of the art is considered “gallery height.” Use this as your guide for hallways and passageways – areas where you’ll be standing when looking at that photo of great-grandma. 

I should note that “art” in most homes is usually around 24″x 36″.  If you have several smaller sized pieces (I consider 8×10 small – like that picture of great-grandma), group them together to create the illusion of one larger piece. Treat this grouping as one piece of art when you decide how high to hang it. 

What about larger pieces? If you have a tall or oversized piece, use it as a focal point in an entryway, above a fireplace or on a large blank wall. How high you hang it depends on the art itself and how it relates to the rest of the room. 

Armed with this knowledge, take an objective look at where your art is hung now, then go for it.  Rehanging your artwork at the right height will make your home feel warmer and more inviting. You’ll see your art in a new light and I promise to not slow down in your ‘hood!

2 responses to “How’s it Hanging?”

  1. Good advice! I’ll keep that in mind. When I met my 6’5″ husband he had heard the ‘eye level’ rule and always hung things at HIS eye level. Needless to say, it looked a bit odd…

  2. Excellent suggestions. I’ll be making some changes in our house today. Thank you!

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