Hung up on the rules?

Scale – and art work

Nearly every home I’ve visited over the years or consulted with clients in has had at least some kind of art on their walls. Be it their kids drawings, family photos or cherished mementos, I’ve not yet seen a single home with all bare walls. What I have seen in most homes however, is art that is misplaced, out of place or hung to high or low.

I have been asked several times to share my advice on just how to hang items on our walls so lo and behold, here it is! The unfiltered, unedited, flat out simple truth on just that.


What is the size of the space that you are working with? Note the height of the ceiling, are there are any outlets or switches on that wall that will interfere with the placement and how much blank space do you have to work with? A single print that is 8″ x 10″ in size is going to look utterly lost unless you have a grouping of them, whereas a large 36″ x 48″ would look cluttered if crammed on a small with no negative space surrounding it.

If you are lucky enough to have high, cathedral like ceilings and a vast expanse of wall do not be overwhelmed with what to hang. This is an ideal spot for a larger than life piece that really commands attention. If it helps, just draw an imaginary line at 8 feet above the floor and use that as your “ceiling” height and don’t go above that line.

A important thing to remember (aka write this down!) for when you are hanging wall art- measure 5 feet from the floor upwards a horizontal line and that will be the center of the picture frame/art. This ensures that the subject is at eye level and is the most commonly accepted height for viewing art when standing. Refer to image below.


Imagine a horizontal line drawn at the halfway point on each of these wall hangings.

Sometimes your art and photos may be in many different sizes. If this is the case the ‘5 foot to center’ rule is even more important as it will provide consistency and it will lead the eye fluidly throughout the space.

In the above image even though the frames are all different sizes, the 5 foot to center rule still applies.

Keep in mind that there are some exceptions to the “5 feet to the center” rule. Below are a few such examples that you may want to explore as well.

In the case of a gallery wall, such as the one below, I actually did measure for a few of the bigger pieces and used them as anchor points placing them at 5 feet to center. Then I worked around those pieces filling in the blank spaces. Allowing some negative space between each piece allows “breathing” room and will not appear to be a just whole bunch of stuff just crammed in. For a more cohesive look I opted to have all the frames be the same colour. Tip; if you don’t want a million holes in your walls and are prone to changing out art on a regular basis like me. use Command Strips. I swear by them -just make sure you follow the instructions to the letter when removing them otherwise you will be patching and repainting your walls.

Gallery wall option

Another option for larger scale art is placing them on the floor.


Sometimes I will switch things up and hang art by lining up the bottoms of the frames/pieces. You can’t alwayts keep the 5 foot rule, but at least here it won’t be far off if the pieces are smaller and similar in sizes. Like the saying goes “some rules are meant to be broken”. But when you break the rules you still should find some common ground ie: the frames are the same colour or the art in the frames have a common theme or colour. This way things are still consistent. Remember keeping things consistent and fluid is key to having some kind of balance in design.

In this space I opted to line up the bottom of the frames at 5 feet rather than using the center. It works in the case due to the small but similar sizes in the pieces.

As always, should you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below or email me directly. Until next time!