How High to Hang Pictures, Take Away All The Guess Work

Do you find the blank wall daunting so much so that you leave your pictures propped against an empty wall for months before hanging them? Me too! There is a formula for how to make sure your art looks like it’s in the right place. The general rule of thumb for the perfect height is to have the midpoint at 60 inches, but there’s a little more to it.

I always find that pictures and art pieces are the last things that I get around to. But it turns out that’s not a bad thing according to the experts. Art and pictures should be the final step when you decorate a room. The best way to determine where to hang pieces of art is to have all the furniture, lighting, and window treatments in place first.

Let’s assume you are at the point where you have guests coming and you’re GOING to get something on the wall. I’ll take you through the best practices room by room.

What’s the Formula For Hanging Pictures?

The short answer is the eye-level rule, meaning pictures should be hung at eye level. BUT does that mean the middle is at eye level, the bottom, or the top? Whose eye level is that? What if you are only 5 feet tall? There is no such thing as an average eye height since not everyone has the same eye level.

Optimal height for hanging art

The formula for how high to hang your pictures is that the center of the picture should be 60 inches from the ground. This is the rule for a single piece of art that is not hung above a piece of furniture. Sometimes we are tempted to hang a picture a little too high, so don’t stray too far from this height.

There are different rules if you’re hanging a group of pictures or a gallery on a wall and if your art is directly above a piece of furniture.

Should All Pictures Be Hung At The Same Height?

Let’s take it a step further and assume you have more than one picture to hang. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

1.) If you are hanging pictures that are the same size next to each other, hang them at the same height. Here’s an example. The distance between them should be 3-5 inches. The bigger the pictures are the more space you should leave between them.

Hanging art at the same height

2.) If you want to hang two pictures vertically, a good rule of thumb is to pretend the two pieces are one large piece. Use the same basic rule, the correct height is with the middle around 60 inches from the floor. If you are hanging large artwork use a lower mid-point. In this example below, the art would be bumping into the ceiling if the middle were at 60 inches because each picture is fairly large.

Vertical pictures

3.) Pictures hanging above a furniture piece are a bit different from the eye level rule. The ideal height is with the bottom of the frame 5-6″ above the top of the furniture. Here’s an example of art placed 5 inches above the back of the sofa.

living room couch

Here’s an example of wall art hanging at the right height above a dresser. The piece of furniture anchors the single picture.

art hung above a dresser

SIZE MATTERS. If the piece of art is very small, you will need to move it up OR group it with another piece. Here’s an example of pieces that look too small and they are hanging too far apart. If you are hanging multiple pictures together they should be closer to 3-5 inches apart.

Smaller pictures should be hung more closely together.

What is small you ask? You’ll know when you see it. Hang it up, holes are easy to patch and often you don’t even have to patch them if the picture covers up the hole.

In the example below you can see what you shouldn’t do with multiple small pictures. The art in this photo looks like it’s floating randomly, scattered throughout the room. The height of the largest picture feels right, but they would look better in a grouping or “gallery” arrangement. Read more about how to set up a gallery wall.

Should Pictures Hang Higher If I Have High Ceilings?

Ceilings are moving up from eight feet as standard height in older homes to ten feet and higher. The proper height to hang your pictures doesn’t move up relative to your ceiling height. If it feels low with the mid-point at 60 inches, try 62 but the center of the artwork shouldn’t be far from eye level.

If you have a room with very high ceilings, consider using LARGER or oversized artwork which takes up more visual wall space. If the picture feels too low, it might be that it’s really too small.

Don’t Be Afraid To Move Your Art

Your eye is better at seeing what feels right than you know. If you hang the art and it doesn’t feel right, move it. I’m not suggesting this for something heavy that requires drill-in sheetrock anchors, but things that hang on a simple picture hanger can be easily moved.  If you really don’t want to put holes in the wall or just can’t decide on the right placement it’s a great idea to make paper templates or use painter’s tape to map out the placement of your pictures before hanging them.

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  1. We recently (before your visit) moved most of our artwork around, and we are so much happier with it. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about how to hang it or how high to hang it. My husband is the official picture hanger in our family! He even had time to hang several pieces for our daughter this past weekend to get her settled in her new place!

  2. I so hope that tumor is benign, beautiful doggie, my prayers are with you I know the wait is terrible p🤞

  3. Thanks, Andrea, I really needed this post! I am not the best at figuring out where and how to hang things. I’m bookmarking this to save!

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