There’s a ton of different design hacks you can use that will have a big impact on how a room looks. One of these is the height and layout of where you hang pictures on the wall. In this guide, I’ll give you all the golden rules about how high to hang pictures on a wall.
As a general rule, pictures should be at eye level or slightly below, as this makes them most comfortable to look at. If you’re making a picture gallery of lots of different pictures, hang them so the center of the cluster is 57 to 60 inches (144 cm to 152 cm) away.
There are a few tricks for how to measure out where you’re hanging pictures, so below I’ll explain what these are, as well as where to hang art based on the different kinds of fixtures you have in a room.
How to Measure Where to Hang Pictures
Typically, a picture frame will have a wire at the back that you use to hang it, an eyelet type fixture that you place on a hook, or you need to attach adhesive hooks on to the back of it. This can be a bit tricky to measure out.
The easiest way is to take some masking tape and place it 60 inches above the floor, where you want to hang your picture. Then turn the picture over, and measure from the center of the picture to the height of the metal hanger when it’s pulled tort. (Or, the height of where the hooks are).
Note down this measurement, and then place another piece of masking tape, from the top of 60-inch piece of tape, to the measurement you just made of the pictures hook height.
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Why 60 inches (5 feet) as the Center Point for Hanging a Picture?
57 inches to 60 inches is 5 feet. The average person is about 5 feet 4 inches tall. Therefore, 5 feet is about eye level for most people. This makes your art the easiest to look at for most people. If a piece of art is eye level or below, it is also to look at.
Most pieces of art are eye-catching, and a person’s natural tendency when they see a nice picture is to look at it for 5 to 10 seconds. So, as a person is looking at it, you want to make it as comfortable as possible.
Hanging pictures slightly below this height of 60 inches is fine. But, you should typically aim to make sure that at least the center of the picture isn’t above that height. (Unless there is a fixture in the way such as a fireplace.)
6 Main Design Rules for Hanging Pictures in your Home
Here are some ground rules to follow to make sure that your pictures look amazing in your home…
- Match the shape of the picture to the shape of the wall space
- Hang pictures that are ⅔’s the length of the piece of furniture or fixture below it
- Hang pictures 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) above the piece of furniture or fixture below it
- Hang a collage so the center of all the pictures is 60 inches above the floor
- Hang individual pictures in a collage 2 to 3 (5 to 8 cm) inches from each other
- Give the collage a unifying theme such as all the same frames
Let’s take a look at these rules in more detail so you know exactly how to apply them…
#1: Match the Shape of the Picture to the Shape of the Wall Space
Walls have certain shapes:
- They can be rectangular, either taller in height than they are wide, or wider than they are tall.
- They can also be perfectly square.
The room will look more cohesive if the picture is the same shape as the wall. For example, if a wall is perfectly square, then hang a perfectly square picture. Or make the shape of the outer edge of a picture collage a perfect square.
The same is true for a wall that is wider than it is tall. Match it up by also hanging a picture that is wider than it is tall.
BONUS TIP: Pictures also look best if there is even space above and below the picture. This creates a sense of balance and symmetry which makes it look a lot better.
#2: Hang Pictures that are ⅔’s the Length of the Piece of Furniture or Fixture below it
If you’re hanging pictures above something, such as a desk, you want to ideally have the picture be no more than two-thirds the width of the desk or table below it. This looks the best. The picture should also ideally be in the center of the desk, table, or sofa below it. Unless you’re creating a picture cluster, which I’ll get to in a bit!
#3: Hang Pictures 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) Above the Piece of Furniture or Fixture Below it
When hanging pictures over a piece of furniture such as a nightstand or a desk, aim to hang it 6 to 10 inches above the top of the furniture. This gives the area a sense of openness, while maintaining interest.
NOTE: This rule doesn’t always apply, as some furniture is very low or very tall. So bear this in mind by either adjusting the height, or even using a different sized picture.
#4: Hang Collages/Clusters of Separate Pictures
Hanging collages of pictures in a group looks great on a wall. There are a few general rules to make it look amazing. In general, you want to have the center-line of all the pictures at 60 inches on the wall.
This is measured by measuring from the height of the top of the highest picture, to the bottom of the lower picture, and then taking the midpoint.
DESIGN TIP: When making your cluster of pictures, it’s much easier if you lay out the pictures on the floor. Then you can change the layout of the pictures until it looks good to you. Generally, placing the biggest picture closest to the center works really well.
#5: Hang Individual Pictures in a Collage 2 to 3 (5 to 8 cm) inches from each other
You should also aim to have the space in between the pictures no more than 5 inches, and no less than about 2 inches. If it’s larger than 5 inches they can look disconnected from each other which doesn’t look as good. And if it’s less than 2 inches, they can look too close together and clutter the area.
After you’re happy with the layout, you can cut out pieces of paper, and use masking tape to attach the paper to the wall. This will make it easy to get the layout just right before you install the hooks that you’re going to place them on.
#6: Give the Collage/Picture Gallery a Unifying Theme
Another good rule of thumb is to have a unifying theme for collages such as the same frame color or have all the photos be black and white. Collages can also have other items such as a shelf with a sculpture, a decorative hat, or a decorative mask.
You can get really creative here but the trick to making it look good is to have that unifying theme which brings it all together nicely.
The Overriding Rule for Hanging Pictures Over Furniture
There can be certain situations where some of the rules conflict. For example, you can have a wall that is divided by wall moldings. It’s common for this to be the case over a fireplace. For example, the moldings suggest the shape of the picture having to be rectangle, but the 2/3’s rule means it should be square.
Or, a properly sized rectangular picture may overlap something below it f you made it the right shape and size. What should you do?
Generally speaking, the ⅔ rule takes precedence over the shape of the wall rule. So, in the cases mentioned here, you should use a square picture to fit. Rather than a rectangular picture.
This is because the eye is drawn to the fireplace, before it is drawn to the whole wall, so going with the rule that is closest to what draws most attention is the better option to take.
Choosing the Right Wall to Hang your Pictures
Certain walls are better suited to hanging pictures than others. Deciding where to hang your pictures makes a big difference. Some walls look very nice on their own, such as brick, decorative wallpaper, panel molding, and stone tiles.
It’s still possible to mount pictures on these walls. However, it’s best to hand your pictures or artwork on a wall that is more bare, as this helps your pictures to stand out and really shine. The wall you choose to hang your picture or pictures on should be:
- The perfect size for a picture
- A wall that is quite bare
Take a look at the room in general and decide which wall is best suited according to the 2 points I’ve mentioned above, and your pictures will add an extra dimension to your room rather than take away from the rest of the decor.
Should Pictures Be Hung at the Same Height?
Hanging multiple pictures on a wall can be done in a variety of ways. Some ways of hanging them look better than others. Based on what looks the best, here’s whether pictures should be hung at the same height or not.
As a general rule, pictures should be hung at the same height. Doing so creates symmetry which is very pleasing to the eye. But hanging pictures in a collage also looks great. This is where pictures fit together like mosaic tiles. Ideally, center the outer edges of a collage on a wall.
Pictures arranged in a collage will typically have spaces in at least one of the corners. Therefore, you need to center them based on the imaginary square or rectangle they create.
The easiest way to do that is to measure the center-line both horizontally and vertically, then measure the center-line from left to right on the wall. After that, place the center of the collage in the center of the wall. And at a height of 60 inches (152 cm) from the floor.
In other words, you should be thinking of the collage as a whole when deciding how it will be placed.
Having said that, if you’re hanging the collage above a piece of furniture or fireplace, then center it above what you’re putting above. For example, measure the middle of a couch, and use this as the center rather, than the center of the wall.
Is there a Formula for Hanging Pictures?
Hanging pictures so they look best does follow a formula. This is an exact measurement from the floor, as well as how close they are to other pieces of furniture, and the sides of the wall. We’ve mostly covered this information above but here is a summary of the formula:
In general, pictures should have their mid-line between the top to bottom of the picture 60 inches (152 cm) from the floor. Pictures should also be no more than ⅔’s the width of a piece of furniture or molding such as a fireplace below it. Additional rules are explained below.
Also, match the shape of the picture to the shape of the wall. For square walls use square pictures, and for rectangular walls use rectangular pictures. This applies to walls that are longer from left to right than they are tall. Or taller than they are wide.
How Far From the Ceiling Should You Hang Pictures?
Ceilings are of variable height, but typically are 8 feet (2.4 meters) high. There can be furniture against a wall, or the picture can be particularly large that it will get quite close to the ceiling. There is a certain distance from a ceiling that looks best for pictures, here’s what it is.
Overall, leave at least 3 inches (8 cm) from the ceiling. You should hang pictures so the center-line is 60 inches (152 cm) from the floor, this controls how far the picture is from the ceiling. Also, hang a picture 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) above a piece of furniture like a couch.
This gives enough space so that the picture doesn’t look too cluttered against the piece of furniture. And overall looks far better. And as you can see, you have quite a big height to work with because you can go all the way up to just 3 inches from the ceiling if you needed to.
How High Should Pictures Be Hung Above Sofa?
Hanging pictures can be done almost anywhere in a house, but behind a sofa can look particularly good. In interior design, there are certain rules about what looks best when hanging pictures. So here’s how high a picture should be hung above a sofa.
As a general rule, pictures should be placed 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) above a sofa. This also applies to hanging pictures above other pieces of furniture such as a fireplace or dresser. It looks best if a picture is no more than ⅔’s the width of the piece of furniture below it.
A picture should also match the shape of the wall. For example, if the wall is a square the frame of the picture or shape of a picture without a frame should be a square. Or, if it’s a rectangle that is longer along its width, then the picture should be a rectangle with a width that is longer than its height.
How to Hang Pictures
Now that you’re aware of all the rules for hanging pictures so that they look amazing, here’s a really good video that shows the actual nuts and bolts of hanging pictures: