Monday, May 16, 2011

Design tips: The Art of Hanging Art!

So many frames, so much blank wall space, how to put it all together? Hanging artwork seems like a big deal… how high? How to arrange it all? Will it all “go” and look great? But you can do it!

Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on their website that gives you some basic guidelines. Here are some more handy tips to make your walls support the arts!

My favorite tip from the website is to make templates of everything you want to hang, and laying it out first on the floor, then taping it to the wall. I use this technique, and here are the steps I go through to make things look great.


-- Butcher paper, old newspaper or even recycled wrapping paper

--Low-tack painter’s tape (something that won’t damage your walls)

--Crayon, thick pencil or marker


--Tape measure or large ruler

--Step ladder if necessary

--Picture hooks (like these pictured)

--A helper, this makes it easier and more fun!


1. Make sure you use the right picture hooks. They’re cheap and more secure than just a nail. Home improvement stores usually carry these, or, your picture may have even come with them. For small pieces, I use one, but anything larger or over 2-3 pounds, or if it is a mirror or has glass, I use two. For very heavy works, I’ll even make sure I find a stud behind the wall to nail into, but for most things, if you have the right hook, it will distribute the load and not tear up your walls.

The packaging will tell you how much weight they’re designed to hold: I go for overkill and buy the next one up, even if I’m using two. This is because the nails are bigger and the hooks are less likely to bend. And don’t use the push-pin type unless your art is very small or light. Follow the directions, and if you have any doubts, call a contractor or professional art installer.

2. Trace the outline of the frame. Lay the paper out on a table or the floor and place your art on top of the paper. Trace around the frame with the crayon, pencil or marker.

3. Before removing the frame, you’ll want to take note of where the wire or hanger is, because this will be where the hook will goes. Tip the art up from the top enough to get your hand under there and pull the wire tight toward the top of the art. Mark where the nail would go in the paper.

We’re not done yet…. Pull out one of the hooks and place it next to the mark on the paper. See how the hook part is lower than the nail? Now you can mark where the nail will go!

Or, if this is difficult, or the art is large, you may need to use a ruler or tape measure to figure this out. Stand the art on the floor, and have your helper hold the wire to pull it tight, in two places… with two hands if necessary. Measure from the edge of the frame where the hooks would go, from both the side and the top then mark this spot on the paper.

4. Cut your outlined template out and set aside. Repeat steps 2-3 if you have more pieces to hang, drawing a sketch or labeling right on the template of what the real picture looks like so you’ll remember which one is which.

5. If you are going to make an arrangement of more than one piece, start with the largest one if they are different sizes or the middle one if they are the same size. You can lay out the templates on the floor first to make it even easier.

6. Tape the first template to the wall where you think the art will go. Stand back and check it out. The middle should be at approximately eye level, but if you’re really short and other members of your family or friends are tall, you may want to raise it. If in doubt, start with the center at about 66 inches above the floor.

Raise it if you need to clear an object or piece of furniture, lower it a little if it’s a small piece or is over a seating area, since your “eye level” will be lower than if you’re standing. If it looks right, it is right.

7. You’re ready for the hooks. Once the template(s) are taped to the wall, check it out! Because you marked where the hooks and the nails go, you can take one of the nails and press it through the paper, making a small hole on the wall. Remove the paper, assemble the hook and nail into place. Repeat for all the nails!

8. Remove the paper and hang the art. Enjoy!

Until next time!

--Elaine Bothe

Resources and photos courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens website and

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 AM 


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