Decorating Tips: Getting Height Right

Decorating Tips: Getting Height Right

Leah Moss
Jun 8, 2009

You've found the perfect picture to go above the sofa, you shout for joy, hammer in the picture hanger, stand back, and...wait, something is not right. Whether it's drapery rods, chandeliers, or picture frames, when you walk into a room that feels a little off, it's often due to miscalculated height. While there are no hard and fast "rules" for height, we've gathered some helpful guidelines for getting it right...

Pictures and Artwork:

General Rule: 5"-9" above large pieces of furniture like a sofa or headboard or above the objects on a table or console.
If you're like me, once an idea pops into your head, your instinct is to accomplish it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately when it comes to picture-hanging that impulsive tendency often translates into lots of nail holes and awkwardly hung frames. The easiest way to get it right the first time is to cut out templates of the frames and hang them in place with masking tape so that you can step back and get the full effect. This is especially effective if you're hanging a group of frames. Check out Little Birdie Secret's great tutorial for hanging a picture collage using paper templates. I would only add that using masking tape rather than nails may save you a few nail hole mistakes.

When in doubt, go low. Hanging them too high makes for strained necks and the infamous floating effect that vexes so many of our readers. For example...

For some wonderful examples of low hanging artwork, check out ATSF JessicaBlake's post from this winter.

Mirrors:

General Rule: Hang at eye level or slightly lower. Obviously, due to our varying heights, all eye levels are not the same, but using this as a guideline will help prevent dizzy guests and headaches. Generally, this means between that the center of the mirror is 56"-59" from the ground. In our home, we've followed Maxwell's advice of roughly 57" to great effect.

Dining Room Chandeliers

General Rule: For chandeliers with multiple arms, the guideline height is 26 to 32 inches above the table. This creates an intimate zone without blocking your view of other table guests. If you are using a round opaque pendant or bowl-style chandelier or opaque pendant, the height can be a little higher — 30-36 inches above the table.

Exceptions:

There are always exceptions to every rule. An important one pertains to the particular architectural embellishments and quirks of your space. If you want to highlight unusual ceiling angles, hang artwork in a manner that mimics it lines, as pictured above.

(Images: 1: Sarah Kaye via Pink Wallpaper, 2: Skona Hem, 3: Ideal Home, 4: Domino, 5: Jonathan Adler, 6: Erik Johnson via Hatch, 7: via Design Sponge)

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