Art-Hanging Mistakes This Expert Sees Over & Over Again

updated Mar 30, 2023
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Art can basically make or break a room. But how that art is displayed can be even more important than which art you choose. I’ve shared some common art-hanging mistakes before—you know like hanging too high—but these tips are next level. They’re mistakes you might have never thought of before, and while subtle, they could have huge impacts on the art in your home.

Today’s tips come from expert Katharine Earnhardt, the founder of Mason Lane, a a Brooklyn-based art advisory firm that styles walls nationwide. “As an art adviser I have a running list of common mistakes, including hanging pieces behind cheap glass near a window (so all you see is the reflection),” she says. “It seems like there’s demand for more info, and there’s usually a quick fix that makes a space look so much better!”

More tips, in Katharine’s words:

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Filling a home with all prints behind glass

This is the top issue I see when I go into client’s homes and they’re unsatisfied with their current art. Art, like design, works best with cohesive diversity—in textures, colors, subjects and media. Having all prints behind glass reminds me of a dentist office and it’s pretty impersonal. Go for more variety in your home.

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

Framing pieces behind cheap glass

Glass quality makes such a difference. Museum glass is the best quality and is (surprisingly) less reflective than “Non-Reflective Glass.” Cheap frames likely have the lowest quality “glass” (that’s actually Plexi) and it looks foggy.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Hanging pieces with any reflective glass near a major light source

This is something not often considered, but it will kill the ability to see the art behind the glass. I advocate for getting a painting or textile piece—something that will absorb rather than reflect light—for walls near major light sources. Museum Glass is a great option for anything that has to have glazing but note that it is still glass so there’s always some reflection.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Hanging pieces using the wrong hardware

If wires or D rings are too low or too long, the art piece will hang off the wall at an angle. Keeping hardware secured about 1/3 down the back of the piece will keep the art parallel to the wall.

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

Not keeping pieces level

This drives me nuts because all you see is how crooked the art is, not the art itself. Hang art on two points (two nails or D rings) to avoid this, and use a rubber bumpers, painters tape or wall putty to make it stay put. This is especially important in a gallery wall.


(Image credit: Liz Calka)

Hanging art at ALL different heights

The museum standard is to hang art with the center at 57 – 60″ from the floor, so it’s important to note that if you hang one at 57″, hang the others in the same space at the same height. Of course there are exceptions to this in a home where fixtures, furniture, and architectural details come into play, but keeping artwork centers at the same height is a good guideline to follow.

Thanks Katharine!