Instructions For Hanging, Displaying & Arranging Artwork

I’m not very confident when it comes to hanging pictures on a wall. Will they be straight? Too high? Too low? Does the arrangement look good or wonky?

If you’re like me and a little shy about taking out the hammer and nails, the good news is that there are plenty of online resources that have this all figured out for us.

You’ll find answers to questions such as:

  • How high should they be positioned above furniture pieces?
  • How far apart should they be spaced?
  • Is it ok to mix and match sizes?

It all seems so fussy and rigid! But there’s reason for that…if not properly positioned, artwork can set things “on edge” in a room…even for someone without a refined sense of decor. There may not be an obvious culprit, but things don’t “feel” balanced or properly settled.

Then there’s the question of what to hang. What if you have a lot of wall space to work with, but not a lot of budget to fill it? There are plenty of creative answers to be found for that too. Here are a few:

Illustration Themes That Work:

  • Flowers, Plants & Herbs
  • Kitchen Fruit & Vegetables (both retro designs & artistic works)
  • Pen Drawings or Pencil Sketches from Famous Artists
  • Copies of Vintage Product Advertising
  • Vintage Magazine Covers

Here’s a page I’ve compiled that’s full of expert guidance featuring several different tips and ideas to help you get the job done, each of them free to enjoy and be inspired by. I’ll be adding more to this page as I find new ideas so you may want to bookmark it for reference. Have fun!

Layout Examples: Creative Inspiration
Wall Arrangements: Five different layouts, each includes the measurements for the pieces used in the examples.

Gallery Displays: Four different ideas that include the measurements of the frames (click on image to view a larger size). See more uploaded on flickr here.
Gallery Inspiration: (Pottery Barn) Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a few more layout options to browse through.

Groupings How-To: This doesn’t just show a few different examples, he also points out things to notice and pay attention to (helpful for determining something unique).
20 Creative Ways to Display Art: Gives tips for thinking through how you want to stage items, suggests taping pieces (with painter’s tape) of Kraft paper on the wall that are the same dimensions as your frames before hammering away.

Arrangement Guide: You’ll find 5 different ideas on this page for hanging groups of works.

Helpful Resources

  • Hanging Tip: Use a wooden clothespin and a nail to mark the exact spot you want to hang a photo.
  • How to NAIL the Perfect Placement When Hanging Art Above the Bed: I like this article because it gives several examples of what works and why.
  • Wax Paper Planning: (web archive link since page no longer online) Clever! This tutorial shows you how to use long pieces of wax paper to plan a gallery scheme. You could also use sheets of brown craft paper.
  • How High Above Furniture?: Sofas, dressers, desk, etc. Good-To-Know tidbit provided by Lark & Linen: the bottom of the artwork should be mounted no less than 6″ and no more than 10″ above it.
  • Do’s & Don’ts: Some helpful advice here but scroll down a bit and they have some good comparisons side by side (so you can see what not to do).
  • A Complete Guide: Packed with info and includes a fun, informative video, a quick reference guide, decor ideas, and tools and tips details below it.

Budget Decor: Showcase Lovely Pictures From Books

With a sharp razor blade or exacto knife, you can fill piles of picture frames cheaply and easily with just one book!

Because the collection of illustrations are from one source, they’re easy to mix and match as you wish–each are the same size and of the same subject.

Use a sharp razor and a careful hand to separate the page neatly along the binding (but not into the binding), you’ll be able to keep the rest of the book intact.

Tips For Choosing Supplies:

  • Dig around in a bargain bin or online bookstore clearance section ( and are good starts), amazing finds with dozens of graphics can be found for just a couple bucks. You can also score big by browsing through used bookshops.
  • Collect works cheaply from garage & estate sales, bargain bins, etc., and replace the originals with the ones you’ve chosen from a book. Paint the frames if they need sprucing up.
  • Select oversized volumes with illustrations of good quality, printed on heavy paper and lots of full page depictions to choose from.
  • If you’re painting frames, choose colors that will work well with future choices and any decor color changes (black, white, neutrals).

More Suggestions:

  • Hang a series of botany prints from straps of ribbons (say three to a strap)
  • Outline lone pieces of furniture (such as a hall chest) with prints
  • Decorate the wall along a stairway with an assortment of illustrations
  • Exhibit a block of images in rows on the space behind a sofa or on a bare wall
  • If arranging in clusters, you can create a uniform look with pieces the same size, color and finish. If you’d like a charming display of pictures that gives the impression of a collection grown over time, try frames of different dimensions and colors (that compliment each other nicely). You’ll need a book that has various sizes of prints to accomplish this (or a few volumes in different measurements on the same theme).
  • Stick with simple frames and mats that don’t compete with the illustrations, these can be used again and again without worrying about design conflicts with any new selections.

When you’re tired of the “art” currently displayed in your home and need a change, just switch out the graphics with pictures from a different publication. Updating decor doesn’t get any easier (or budget friendlier) than this!

Inspired by the article “How To Use A Book With Decorative Pictures”, House Beautiful (1946)

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    • Sandra Renick

    Thank you for the picture arranging ideas. I have been wanting something like this for YEARS!

    • Katrina

    The one that’s entitled “Wall Ideas”-fourth from the top, is password protected so we cannot view it 🙁

      • Tipnut

      Thanks for the heads up Katrina! I’ve removed it from the list.

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