The Right Height to Hang Artwork Above Anything
There is an art to hanging artwork and mirrors. However, it’s not rocket science and if you follow some basic guidelines you’ll get it right every time!
Now, for the sake of my sanity – which is questionable on a good day, I’ll be referring to artwork, mirrors and misc. wall decor as ‘artwork’ and focusing on average size pieces and wall spaces in this blog post.
And remember, these are only GUIDELINES, not rules. There are always exceptions as there are TONS of artwork sizes, wall sizes and other things to consider when hanging artwork – I can’t cover them all!
Guideline 1 – How high should artwork hang on a bare wall or above short furniture pieces?
‘The center of your artwork should hang 58-62 inches from the floor when it’s the only item on that vertical wall space or when it’s above an item that is shorter than 33 inches tall’
And for the love of God, it doesn’t matter how high your ceilings are or how tall your husband is – all of this is totally irrelevant to how the artwork looks on a wall. For reals.
Because regardless of wall height or hubby’s opinion, there is still an invisible sightline that we revert to when there’s a tall whack-a-doody wall in front of them – and that invisible line sits at approx. 8-9 feet. Why? Because I said so. And a lot of other smart, cute and talented people said so too. Really though, it’s what we’ve become accustomed to in the average home over the last 100 years.
Now, let’s break that 58-62 inch guideline down a bit more…
What’s the best height for hanging art on a bare wall?
- 58-62 inches from the center of the artwork to the floor
These three pictures are hanging on a bare wall with no furniture right underneath them, therefore, the CENTER of them is 58-62 inches from the floor.
What’s a good height for hanging art above wainscoting?
- 58-62 inches from the center of the artwork to the floor. OR, depending on the height of your wainscoting/size of your art, approx 4 inches above the top of the wainscoting
I’ve also seen installations where the art hangs slightly over the wainscoting – you’ve got to have mad skills, shallow moldings and crazy cool art to pull that off my friend.
How about hanging artwork above the toilet?
- 58-62 inches from the center of the artwork to the floor
What’s the best height for artwork above or close to a shorter piece of furniture?
- 58-62 inches from the center of the artwork to the floor as long as your piece is lower than 33 inches
These next photos with chairs are perfect examples of artwork above a shorter piece of furniture.
What’s the best height for a gallery wall?
- 58-62 inches from the center of the GALLERY to the floor
The same rule applies for a gallery wall as it does for a single piece – as long as it’s not above a taller piece of furniture, the center of the arrangement should sit 58-62 inches from the floor. For a gal like me at 5’4, that number sits at about my eyebrows giving me easy eyeball measurements rather than having to bust out a tape measure every time.
Now, I want you to be a total dork. Grab a tape measure and measure out where 60 inches is on your body. Use that spot on your body as a 60-inch marker and walk up to every piece of artwork and mirror in your home and see if they are hanging close to the right spot!
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Big pieces of artwork, arrangements, galleries or groupings that are more than 36 inches tall
If you have an over-sized piece of artwork or are hanging a gallery that is more than 36+ inches high, try hanging it so the center of the artwork/arrangement is approx. 48-56 inches from the floor. There are always exceptions to rules, so if you are doubting yourself, get out the masking tape or some brown paper and map things out on the wall before hammering the nail in.
Guideline 2 – What’s the right height for hanging artwork above a sofa or a headboard?
‘If your picture is hanging above a couch or headboard, the bottom of the picture should be approx 8-12 inches from the top of your furniture’
Why? If there is too much space between the top of your couch/headboard and the bottom of your artwork there will be a ‘visual disconnect’ between the two pieces. Your artwork will act independently from the furniture, rather than being a foundation piece for a colour scheme or theme.
Let’s break that 8-12 inch guideline down a bit…
The best height for hanging artwork above a sofa
- Approx 8-12 inches is usually a happy place for the average size piece of artwork or mirror
When it comes to sofas and sectionals, I err on the side of slightly higher vs slightly lower and would place most average size pieces approx 8-10 inches from the top of the furniture.
This next photo is a great example of approx 12 inches. If she’d gone any higher, it wouldn’t have connected well with the sectional.
And it’s not just about getting the height right, SCALE matters as well. In the above photo, the art/display pieces COULD be a bit wider and taller, but she’s done a great job adding width with the two plant sconces.
The artwork in the photo below is gorgeous but slightly too small for the wall space, even bringing it down to 10 inches wouldn’t make sense. This wall space needs a piece that is a portrait layout and slightly larger.
How high should I hang art above a headboard
- 5-10 inches is a good range, depending on the height of the headboard/size of the artwork.
This next photo is perfect. The art is hanging approx 5 inches above the headboard – not too low OR too high, creating a seamless look from wall to bed.
Guideline 3 – How high should artwork hang above a fireplace mantel?
“When hanging artwork above a mantle there should be approx 4-8 inches of wall space between the top of the mantle and the bottom of the picture”
The taller your mantle is, the less distance there should be between the top of it and the bottom of the picture
A shorter mantle can accommodate a bit more wall space in between
In this next photo, the canvas sits approx. 5 inches above the mantle. That, along with the accessories create a colourful and well-balanced look!
Whether it’s a grand mantel or a more simple profile, the same rule applies, as shown next. However, I DO wish the clock were a bit bigger to be proportional to the size of the fireplace width.
And if you have NO mantel? We’re back at 58-62 inches from the floor, however, I would go on the higher side, rather than the lower. If you have a raised hearth, it’s that same distance from the HEARTH (but I might drop it down to 58 inches).
Guideline 4 – What’s the best height to hang artwork above furniture that is 32+ inches high?
‘When hanging a picture above a piece of furniture that is 32+ inches high, there should be approx. 4-6 inches from the top of your furniture piece and the bottom of your picture.”
If you have a buffet that is approx. 33 inches tall, you might choose to hang your artwork approx. 6 inches from the buffet top. If you have a taller piece (ie: 40 inches or taller) you might choose to hang your artwork in the 4 inch range so there isn’t too much wall space between the two pieces and it doesn’t hang too high on the wall. It can REALLY DEPEND on the height of your furniture and the size of your artwork!
In this next photo, there’s also wainscoting to consider, and I bet the owner actually went back to the 58-62 inches from the floor. Get that painter’s tape out and mask out your art on the wall before hanging it. Take photos of your taped off areas and then see which one seems the most natural.
In this next photo, the mirror has approx 6 inches of clearance – perfect!
Guideline 5 – Can I lean my artwork on my mantel or cabinet?
The last option for hanging artwork is ‘leaning’. If the piece you’re placing your artwork on is low enough and the artwork is stable enough (either light enough to sit without sliding out or heavy but supported with an anchor at the back) then you can lean your artwork.
If a piece of artwork is sitting on something that’s too high, the artwork will be awkward to look at – I hate getting a kink in my neck as Lord knows I’m kinky enough as it is! Think about how the artwork is viewed from a sitting and standing position…
- If it’s a mirror, is it only reflecting the ceiling when leaning?
- If your art is framed with glass are you only seeing the sheen of the glass, not the artwork itself?
- Is the beauty of the piece de-valued because you can’t see it head-on?
So, next time we chat and I ask you ‘how’s it hangin?’ – you better have the right answer!
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KYLIE M INTERIORS E-DESIGN ONLINE VIRTUAL PAINT COLOR CONSULTING AND DIY HOME DECOR BLOG SPECIALIZING IN BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2013, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2019!