Getting art up on the walls in a new place - or even a freshly painted room - can feel like a daunting task but there is an easy way to get it right the first time. I recently took the plunge in our new home and wanted to share two techniques I always use when hanging anything.
Martha, Marth, Martha
I'm pretty sure the first place I saw this trick was in Martha Stewart Living or possibly on her website. In order to make light of what could be a tedious job filled with accidental holes in the wall, Martha suggests placing butcher paper (or similarly large paper) on the floor and then deciding on an arrangement. Once you're happy with how things look you trace around the edges of each frame with a pencil (in case you change your mind).
I bought a large sketch pad from Staples years ago and use it for projects like this. I just overlapped and taped together four sheets of paper to make it tall enough and wide enough for my art grouping.
Once you've traced around each frame, go back and measure down from the top of each frame edge to where your alligator hook, wire, etc. is so that you know how far down from the edge to mark your screw hole. If the hook on my frame is 1" below the top edge of the frame I center a mark 1" down from the top of my pencil silhouette. Repeat with each frame.
I suggest taking a photo of your final arrangement before you remove your frames from the paper in case you forget where things were supposed to go.
Once your frames are removed, you'll need to tape your paper to the wall. In order to get this part right I suggest the next trick.
I first learned the 57" rule on Apartment Therapy three years ago and it's helped take the guess work out of how high to hang anything in any space. 57" is the average person's eye level so galleries tend to hang art work at this height. It's usually spot on unless there's an odd construction reason you can't hang something at that height such as a large piece that would overlap a radiator, etc.
The main thing is to be consistent in how you hang everything in a room so that it keeps your eye flowing. It will help create cohesiveness and balance rather than making things feels scattered.
First, measure the height of your piece (or group). Let's say a single framed piece is 18" tall.
Second, divide that number in half. In this instance I would get 9".
Third, add that number to 57". This adds half the amount of frame height to the average eye level so that your piece will be centered at eye level. 57 + 9 = 66.
Fourth, flip your piece over to see where the hook, wire, etc. is and measure how far down it is from the top of the frame. Make sure to pull your wire up as high as it will go to simulate how it will hang before measuring. Let's say the distance from the top of my frame to the hook is 2".
Five, subtract that amount (2" in my case) from the number in the third step (66"). 66 - 2 =64.
Six, measure that high from the floor on your wall and mark. This is where you will want to drill your hole or attach your 3m hook, etc (64" high in my case). Once hung, your piece will be centered at eye level.
When you're working with a group of art, the concept is basically the same. Instead of measuring a single framed piece you'll measure from the top edge of the highest piece to the bottom edge of the lowest piece. In my case it was about 39" from top to bottom. I divided that number in half to get 19.5" and then added it to 57" to get 76.5". This is where it's different.
When I was marking my silhouettes for each frame I made sure to line up the top of my top frame with the top edge of my paper as seen above. I made sure the top of my paper was taped 76.5" from the ground in order to have my grouping centered. Before I hung my paper on the wall, however, I measured down from the top edge of each frame to the hook or wire as shared before and marked on my paper where the screws would go.
I taped my paper up at the correct height and made sure it was straight by measuring down from the ceiling to the top of my paper at each end and in the middle. If your house is old and your ceiling is slanted do your best. Yes, that was us two houses ago. Seeing the silhouettes of your grouping on the wall gives you a great visual in case you decide you want to adjust the arrangement or move it over a few inches.
Once you're happy with where it will be, carefully drill pilot holes (or hammer in your nails if you have sheetrock walls) through your screw hole marks. Insert your screws. Depending on the weight of your pieces and the kind of walls you have you may need to insert some kind of anchor. After inserting all of your screws you can tear down your paper and start hanging your art.
I'm waiting on two more pieces to come in the mail to finish off the rest of my 'floral arrangement' on Ruby's side of the room. She loves her flowers.
The trickiest part may be deciding what to hang. My first personal rule is to only hang things that I love. There is a lot of great art work out there and I may be drawn to a good 20% of things I see on Pinterest or Etsy but I only want to hang the 5% that I love. That ensures I'll probably like it next year and the year after that, etc. I also think our environments have a strong effect on how we feel and what we think about so I want to make sure they make me feel a certain way.
For this grouping I knew I wanted pieces that were whimsical, of a certain style, and simple in their color story. Lots of white with pink and yellow accents and black lines to reflect the colors in my rug that's in the same room. I only noticed once I'd purchased them that many of them feature girls. I think I gravitate to people more than animals or abstract shapes in art work and tend to enjoy this color combination of pink and yellow so it came together easily because I know what I like.
I purchased frames from IKEA and used a few I had on hand to frame all of the prints and left large amounts of white and off-white to give them all space to breathe in such a tight grouping. The color story, theme, and use of almost all black frames creates a cohesive group that is pleasing to the eye.
As far as the layout goes, I like to stagger frames and create balance in my composition by using three different sizes that repeat at least once. I have two large frames, five medium frames, and four smaller ones. I found a great resource for finding compositions that work for you here via Lovely Chaos recently.
I've collected most of these prints over the last four months but I've had a couple for years. One was gifted, one was a DIY, one was supporting a good cause. There are great sites where you can purchase affordable art such as 20 x 200 and sites where you can print art off for free because the artists have offered it as such. Here's a chance to support a great cause and choose an art piece upon donation.
Each of the vintage floral crewel pieces in Ruby's room were thrifted locally in Missouri but I've got two on the way from Etsy. Here are some similar items: one, two, three, four, five, six. Some are cheap while others are exceptional and thus priced higher. Be sure to check that you are buying a finished piece instead of a kit unless you'd like to make it yourself.
If you've made it to the end of this long post I commend you! I hope either of these two techniques give you the confidence to commit to some holes in the wall knowing you'll be happy with the end result. Also, feel free to share your own tricks for hanging things on the wall in the comments below.