The Only Kind of Picture Frame You Should Use in Hallways and Stairways, According to a Home Stager

published Jun 7, 2021
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Credit: Anna Spaller

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Well, if a piece of artwork or a family photo is poorly placed on a wall, your eye might not get the chance to behold it.

Hallways and stairways are prime spots for displaying your photographs, memorabilia, and artwork. But according to the experts, the frame you choose plays a serious role in properly activating the space. I asked Minol Shamreen, founder and creative director of Studio M Designs, to explain why she sticks to a certain type of frame when displaying art and pictures on a staircase wall. 

When it comes to hanging art or photographs in a narrow space, Shamreen says it’s all about the thickness of the frame. Shamreen suggests choosing a frame that is no more than 2 inches thick when you’re hanging a piece in a stairwell or hallway.

“When using frames, especially an enclosed stairway, I like to keep the depth of the frame to 2 inches or less,” Shamreen says. “This is to ensure that the piece doesn’t visually encroach into the walking space, which makes the stairway feel narrower than it is.” 

If the stairway isn’t enclosed (and thus provides a greater sense of open space) the depth of the frame won’t impact the feel of the corridor as much. In situations like those, you can use more dramatic and chunkier frames. But if your space is a little more confined, Shamreen suggests abiding by the 2-inch rule.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Naturally, the height of a frame is also important, since you want to enjoy the art or photographs without straining yourself to view them. Hanging a frame at eye level ensures it can be viewed comfortably. In a stairway, a piece should be about 60 inches from the top of the stair tread, Shamreen says. Just be sure you check where the hangers are on the back of the frame, since that will also play into the height at which it hangs.

If you’re hanging frames in a stepped-picture style, where all pieces of art are lined up in a single row that follows the pattern of the stairs, Shamreen suggests treating the entire collection as one piece of art, even if the frames are of different sizes. 

“Anchor it around the 60-inch mark,” she suggests. “Space them evenly to achieve a more cohesive look.”

While Shamreen swears by these tips, she also says what’s most important is that you’re happy with the outcome.

“Yes, there are a few rules of thumb to hang art and decor on staircase walls,” says Shamreen. “But at the end of the day, all that matters is that you love the way your wall looks once the pictures and frames are displayed.”

If you’re looking for some examples of frames for hallways and stairways that aren’t over 2 inches thick, Shamreen suggests these options: