For those of you out there who may be Block-heads, either unashamed or closet, you may have noticed the emphasis put on the appropriate height to hang pictures. Anyone who knows me or has ever had a conversation with me regarding pictures knows that this is a huge point of frustration with me. So I am taking this opportunity to explain the guidelines to follow and the situations that may defy these rules. I have simplified how to decide where to hang artwork , pictures, objects and televisions in your home or office, including height and location.
Pictures should be at eye level. This means the picture/object should be hung so the centre line or horizon line (if it has one) sits between 1400-1500mm off the floor. This will mean the artwork sits comfortably within the space without having to strain, crook or crane one’s neck to view it. It also means it is accessible to look at closer at the detail in the picture.
More Than One Item in an Arrangement
If you are hanging more than one picture of varying sizes or differing horizon lines, start with your strongest/largest/centre piece, determine it’s height and hang the others to match. If they are all the same size, in most cases they should hang at the same height. If they are differing sizes, work on their centre lines lining up horizontally as a starting point and then tweak from there. Also keep the gaps between each picture to less than 200mm to maintain a connection, even closer if it is a single image split into multiple panels (eg. triptych).
Over a Piece of Furniture
Create a connection with a piece of furniture. Keep in mind the eye height rule and don’t just try to centre it between the piece of furniture and ceiling. The picture can end up hanging quite close to the top of a piece of furniture and, alas, once you put items on top they may even overlap the picture! Not a problem. This creates a nice relationship in your arrangement between furniture, picture and decorator items such as a lamp or vase. This can also be referred to as a “vignette”. Basically if a home magazine editor came in they would be able to take a nice detail photo of your arrangement without any gaping blank spaces. Exceptions to the Rule You may choose to hang some items in awkward locations such as over a doorway or window. If the space is small, centre the item. If there is extra height. Leave approximately 50-100mm between the door/window and the picture.
Mantlepiece – not many houses have one these days but a simple flick through home magazines will give you a good idea. You may notice some choose to simply lean a large item on the mantlepiece, otherwise it will be hung quite low down so it still relates to the mantlepiece and is easy on the eye. But remember, just because it gets published in a mag doesn’t mean they got the height right. Assess if you can see a connection between the items and they haven’t created weird blank spaces at eye level by hanging things too high.
Television - If you are hanging your TV on the wall over a sideboard/television cabinet, place it at a height similar to where it would have ended up if it was sitting on top. Eg, 50-100mm above it. You must also consider an easy height to watch TV, from a seated position! There is nothing worse than sitting down to relax in front of the idiot box and having to look up at your TV, giving you a crook neck.
Rental Property Decorating
Leaning pictures on top of shelving, TV units, sideboards, bedside tables and even the floor can be very effective. Especially with large pieces that manage to fill the wall space nicely. Multiple pieces along with lamps, sculptures, books etc can be clustered on a surface to create a story.
Do not hang according to the height of doorways/windows/ceilings.
Do not try to centre the item between the ceiling and a piece of furniture
Try to avoid positioning a gap between pictures in the centre or eye line height of the arrangement. Your eye will subconsciously be drawn to this gap rather than the artwork itself. This is why an odd number of pictures rather than even is often a better choice (but not always…).
The Final Word (a disclaimer to all you style gurus out there)... from Tamara Benham
These are not hard and fast rules. They are the starting point that will help in most decorating situations. There are many abstract, asymmetrical and unusual ways to hang art which generally requires good knowledge of balance and space. Please do not take the images selected above as an indication of what i consider good interior decorating! They were simply chosen to demonstrate my guideline points