(Wall) Space: The Final Frontier

I may not be sporting green gator shoes or flannel zebra jammies, but, much like Macklemore, I DID spend some time this weekend poppin' tags at a thrift shop.  Significantly more mainstream (and with far less colorful language), I came away from my urban hunting experience sans new threads, but with three coordinating pictures.  Each runs 22" x 19", is double matted, and has a beautiful detailed frame.  Even more gratifying - they each cost $10. 

Once home, I came to the issue of where, and how high to hang them.  Luckily, I've been down this road before.  Below, my tips for hanging artwork. 

Spacial Guidelines

The Eye-Line Rule  While the actual number varies based on whom you ask, most professionals will tell you that the middle of a picture should be hung at the average person's eye line - somewhere between 57" and 65" from the floor.  By using the MIDDLE of the picture (known as the centerline) as the point from which to measure, you ensure that there is a continuous flow throughout your home with all of your art work.

The Incredible Shrinking Room  Try to avoid hanging the tops of all of your pictures at the same height.  The optic line that is created by the tops of the frames will seemingly diminish the space.

Have a Seat  In rooms where people will primarily be sitting (dining rooms, living rooms), feel free to drop the height slightly (think 54 "- 59").  

Sofa Art:

The 2/3rds Rule  It comes down to simple math:  Big piece of low furniture = Big empty wall space above it (I can break that down into a proof if you need...).  One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is hanging something above their sofa that is too small for the expanse.  Try to fill at least two-thirds of the space above.  Even if you don't have a single piece of art that is that large, you can flank your art with sconces to carry the line, or group multiple pictures to fill the space (perhaps you can find TWO velvet portraits of Elvis...).

Furnishings Unite!  When a piece of art is hung too high above a piece of furniture (be it a sofa, a mantel, or a chest of drawers) it gives off a "floating" vibe and can make the room arrangement seem disjointed.  Try to keep pictures 3"- 7" from a chest or mantel, and 5"- 8" above your sofa. 

Pictures A-Plenty: 

1+1+1+1+1 = 1  Think of multiple pictures as a single unit.  For any gallery-like display, remember that the middle of the artwork will not be the middle of a single piece, but of the grouping.

Space Accordingly  While hanging pictures TOO far apart will appear discontinuous, hanging them too close together can confuse the space, and make each piece lose its focus.  Try to keep about 2.5"- 5" between art in a cluster.  The larger each piece of art, the bigger the space you can leave between them. 

Decisively Indecisive 

Template, Ho!  Despite the best laid plans and measurements, sometimes you just need to see it to make it perfect.  As Swiss-Cheesing your walls with nails will most likely not thrill your landlord or your significant other,  your best bet is an easy to use stencil. 

Measure out your picture and use paper or poster board to create an accurately sized template.  Using masking tape, adhere your template (or templates) to the wall where you think you'd like your art to go.  Play with height, arrangement and placement to your hearts content before committing to a hole in your wall.

You say "Odd" like it's a bad thing... Although you want your room to look balanced, that does not necessarily mean that everything needs to be symmetrical. Odd numbers are often very visually appealing, so long as they're spatially matched.  Think: One large = Two small (etc).  

Other quick reminders:

- Use picture hangers - not nails. Picture hangers are made to distribute the weight of a picture. Nails are not.

- Heavy pieces need studs (don't we all...)  If you have an exceptionally large piece to hang on the wall, your best bet is to try to locate and utilize a stud.  A stud is a vertical post in the framework of your wall.  You can buy a stud-finder at any local hardware store.  Sadly, they only work on construction.

 - As my husband would say Measure twice, cut [or hammer] once.   Or, in my case, Measure seven times, change your mind repeatedly about the look your going for, then go to a completely different room, remove a picture you had no intention of actually getting rid of, measure several more times, grow irritated, stick the whole bloody mess on the floor without having made a decision, go to the kitchen and have a glass of wine.  (His saying is easier to remember, and probably more useful).

- Not all pictures need to be hung. I'm a huge fan of propping pictures on shelves, mantels and accent pieces.  One of my favorite tricks is to hang a mirror on the wall and then prop pictures against it.  The layering affect adds depth and interest, the mirror adds space to the room, and the pictures are easily swapped out with the season or my mood. 

 - Relax  Remember that it's just a wall.  So you measured incorrectly, or got a little too excited with a hammer and now you have a hole in your wall that you don't want?  That's what spackle and paint are for.  Decorating, just like fashion, is about experimenting and having fun.  Nothing says that you're committed to a decision for the rest of your life.  

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