The secret to hanging pictures at home

Houseworks: How to hang art

Hang your art with these tips, and then stand back and admire your work. Photograph: Getty

Hang your art with these tips, and then stand back and admire your work. Photograph: Getty


If you’ve been promising to hang that stack of frames building up on the floor for months, put aside an afternoon and arm yourself with a measuring tape, drill, rawl plugs, screws and brown paper. Hanging pictures harmoniously is an art form itself and can get quite mathematical but Catherine O’Riordan, owner of the gallery, SO Fine Art Editions, in Powerscourt Town Centre, shares her strategy for simply curation.

O’Riordan has found one of the biggest mistakes people make when hanging art is placing it too high on walls and says universal measurement used in galleries and museums is typically 57 inches above the floor.

“If you use this standard midline all around the home, it will create harmony among all your pieces too. Once the midline is established, find and mark the middle point of the wall, measuring from side to side and where the two marks meet, is your centre point.

Brown paper shapes

Then, says O’Riordan, lay out all the pieces you intend to hang on the floor on top of the brown paper, trace around the frame with a pencil and cut out the shape of each piece. Stick these templates on the wall with a little Blu Tack (or similar) and allow a shape to evolve, switch around the shapes, positioning until you find a good balance between all the frames. Take your time, stand back, take a look at the overall composition, take a few photos on your phone to see it more objectively if needed.

“Typically, I’d hang the biggest piece in the centre and work outwards with smaller interesting pieces, but it doesn’t always work, so using the template method helps to point out problems, engage as much of the wall as possible and orient the collection in the shape of the wall. Allowing for adequate space or breathing room around each piece so they aren’t crammed towards the furniture, wall or ceiling,” says O’Riordan.

To mark where to drill in each screw or hook, find the middle point of each painting (simply divide the width by two) and measure from the top of your picture down to where the screw will catch the wire when bent to bear weight. Lightly mark above the midline “to the hook” amount. This is where you should drill the hole, tap in the relevant size rawl plug, and then pop the screw in.

Then, hang your art, stand back and admire your work. The result should be a pleasing “gallery wall” and no more pictures to trip over at floor level.