How To: Hang Your Artwork and Not Screw It Up

These three pieces are hung as a group and their center is at 57". Additionally, when hanging a "gallery wall," better balance if found when larger/heavier pieces are hung on the left, not the center or the right side (as seen here with the largest piece on the left).
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I have always loved artwork and thought that it was the most most personal part of any home, but I never knew how to make it all look good on the wall.

Then a friend gave me a great tip that to THIS day has made picture hanging a simple, gratifying task. The tip? Always hang your artwork at 57" on center. Confused? "On center" means that the middle of the artwork is always at 57" (obviously, the hook will be higher). Interestingly, the 57" standard represents the average human eye-height and is regularly used as a standard in many galleries and museums.

I was relieved when I discovered this guidance, because it gave me a tool to help others as well. With clients, I often found that pictures, lovely as they could be, were often shockingly randomly hung.

57" On Center

In addition to being a pleasing height, the 57" on center tends to be a lot lower than most people naturally hang their artwork. People hang things too high (I don't know why people do this!). It also means that your artwork is going to hang in closer proximity to the other elements of your home, such as furniture, rugs, lighting, etc and will therefore "talk" to everything better and have a closer relationship, which is GOOD.

In addition, I have discovered is that if you stick to this standard, you create a harmony among ALL the pictures in your home, as they will all share a midline as you look around your home, no matter what outside dimensions may be. This creates harmony and is also VERY GOOD.

So, here are directions.

Step By Step:

1. Measure and lightly mark 57" on the wall
2. Measure artwork and divide by 2 (this gives you the center)
3. Measure top of your picture to the tightened wire (a small amount)
4. Subtract "tight wire" amount from 1/2 height amount for the "to the hook" amount. This will tell you how far above 57" your hook should go
5. Lightly mark wall just above 57" with the "to the hook" amount

Example:
1. Picture is 20" tall
2. Middle is at 10" (this mid point should rest at 57")
3. Wire comes to 2" below the top
4. 10" - 2" = 8"
5. Lightly mark 8" above your first mark OR 65" on the wall

Though this may seem complicated to read, it is quite simple when you do it. The thing to always remember is that the CENTER of all your pictures are hanging at the same 57", and you are just figuring out where the hook goes above it.

This 57" also applies to groups of pictures. Think of a group as ONE picture. After you arrange how you want them all to hang (doing this on the floor makes it easier), start with the center picture/pictures and get them at 57" on center. Then surround them with the rest of the group.

Here's a short video in which I explain it as well.


Other Good Posts on Hanging Artwork:

How To: Hang Picture Frames With Two Hooks
How to: Arrange and Hang Picture Frames Using Butcher Paper
How To: Hang Groups of Artwork
Roundup: Tools for Hanging Artwork

This post has been updated. Originally published 8/3/2006 - CM