How to Properly Hang...Yourself??!!!

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Properly Hung PictureOops!  I just realized that I left out a word in the title.  It should read "How to Properly Hang Pictures...Yourself."  But I've heard that the most important part of any article is the title, so hopefully this one will grab a little extra attention.  Assuming that I am not placed on some type of federal watch list because of the title, I think I'll keep it.

I noticed over the holidays that I have officially been corrupted and warped by my upbringing.  Growing up with an interior designer for a mom and a home builder for a dad tends to do that to a person.  I can no longer go into a home without noticing good and bad parts of the interior design.  And one thing that always seems to give people difficulty is the proper placement and hanging of their pictures and artwork.

Thus I wanted to provide a few tips on the proper placement and hanging of pictures in a home.  Hopefully this will be helpful to those who like to display artwork in their home, or even to other real estate professionals when they are called upon to assist a client in readying a home for sale.

  1. RULE #1 - LOWER YOUR PICTURES:  One common mistake that nearly everybody (including myself) makes is hanging their pictures too high, especially when a taller man hangs the picture.  People tend to assume that a picture is supposed to be centered on a wall (vertically or horizontally), and that it needs to be hung higher to avoid blank wall space.  Professional interior designers, however, will tell you that a painting, picture or other artwork should simply be one part (though oftentimes the centerpiece) of a grouping of furniture and furnishings in a room.  If hung too high, a picture stands out by itself and does not bring in the surrounding furnishings, and only extremely large or unique pieces of art are intended to stand alone on a wall.  As a general rule, look at the area where you wish to hang a picture and hang it a few inches lower than you might normally think is appropriate so that it is a part of the surrounding furnishings.
  2. RULE #2 - MAKE PICTURES A PART OF A GROUPING OF FURNISHINGS:  Many people assume that because pictures or artwork are often the centerpiece of a room that they must stand out or stand alone.  Actually the opposite is true.  To make an item the centerpiece of any room or grouping of furniture it is necessary that people first see it as a part of the whole.  The above photo shows the living room of a home my mother helped redesign.  Notice that the picture is only a few inches above the mantle and that the other pieces on the mantle are often higher than the bottom of the picture.  Because of this, the picture becomes the centerpiece of the entire fireplace and brings in all the other furnishings in the immediate area.  When preparing a grouping color schemes are important.  You do not want things all the same color or tone, but generally you do want the colors to blend together and not have one furnishing stand out too much unless it is to be highlighted.  Also keep in mind that when designing a room, you are in effect arranging several groupings into key spots in the room.  One wall may feature artwork with a sofa or chair, while another may feature a mirror with a chest of drawers, etc.
  3. RULE #3 - WATCH THE PROS:  I often provide a simple tip to clients who wish to redesign their home or are readying it for sale.  I tell them to visit new home subdivisions in the area and view the furnishings and layout of the model homes of builders to get an idea for their home.  It is free, can often be fun to do as a family, and provides great insights into some of the latest designs, furnishings and appliances used by professional interior designers.  It also helps to see how they arrange their groupings to create different effects in each room or area of the home.  For the real estate agents reading this, it also creates a general idea of how clients may want their bedroom, bathroom or kitchen to look in terms of color design, etc. when staging or updating their home.  It also provides them with insight into what the competition's home may look like and why they may need to consider updating or staging.
  4. RULE #4 - LESS IS MORE:  Another common misconception about artwork and pictures is that every wall needs at least one (and often more).  When this is done, however, it tends to reduce the appeal of each picture or piece of art.  If you follow Rule #3 and see a professionally designed room you may be surprised to find that some rooms may have only one picture on a wall.  This rule also applies to furnishings.  One of the most common things a Realtor must do when readying a home for sale is "thinning" out the current furnishings and objects.  Thinning is simply a term of art which means reducing the number of pieces or furnishings in a room and storing them in the garage or some closet.
  5. RULE #5 - LOWER YOUR PICTURES:  Believe it or not this is not a typo.  Once you have followed Rules 1 - 4 go back and lower your picture another inch or two.  I say this because it is often very difficult to make people understand that almost all pictures are hung too high.  I have found that by making myself or others lower them twice that it usually ends up in the right area for the grouping.

Hopefully this provides a bit of insight into how to create warm, inviting and even special rooms in your home through the simple technique of hanging artwork properly.  When thinking of redesigning your home, pay attention to the pictures in your friends homes and ask yourself if it is a part of the room or seems to stand apart.  It may also help to see how high their pictures are and if they seem to draw in the other furnishings around them or not.


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Dena Stevens
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004
Yeah team! Can we go out and insist EVERYBODY lower their pictures! Please!
Jan 02, 2007 09:45 AM #1
Cindy Lin
Staged4more Home Staging & Designs // EcoJoe - South San Francisco, CA

great tips. people generally tend to hang their paintings higher than they need to. so just when you think you have it right, lower it 1 more inch ;)



i love staging and all things staging!

i stage to sell, live & work in san francisco bay area 



Jan 04, 2007 11:35 AM #2
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Steven Holcomb

Esq. - BBA, JD, GRI
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