The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that can make you look like a doofus

Sweet mother of goat milk.  Don’t feel bad.  I did it too.  I was once a doofus.

It’s okay to be a doofus.

Be weird.  Normal is the new boring.

You + Me = doofus squared.

The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that make you look like a doofus

I have a wee surprise for you today.  A guest blog post by Lisa Smith from Decor Girl.

Lisa is a blogging pal of mine.  And she’s nice.  And smart.  And an interior designer.  And she freakin’ races cars !!  And I know she doesn’t start sentences with and.  She actually formulates real sentences.  Imagine that? And I have a few things to learn from her.  And so do you.

Starting with : how to hang your pictures so you won’t look like a doofus.

Maybe we can even convince her to teach us how to race a car.

Note :  I would only want to race cars if I could wear a racing jersey with jazzy lettering and sexy race car gloves.  With super model hair.  The kind of hair that looks good even when the helmet comes off.  I dream.  I get helmet head just thinking of wearing a helmet.

I’d also want one of those big racing stripes right smack dab down the centre of my race car.

So mature.  Vroom vroom.

A race car driver and interior designer all wrapped up in one package is an epic combo for a blogger, don’tcha think?!!  She is all that and a bag of chips.   It’s times like this where I wish I was a lesbian.  She’d make a great partner.  She can drive fast and she can blog.

Explosive combo.

Do you wish you were a lesbian now too?  Too bad.  She’s married.  To a guy.   Me too.  But who’s splitting hairs with mundane facts like that?

I’d actually consider lesbianism for one other reason.  Ellen.

A guest blog post from Lisa Smith at Decor Girl :


Artwork is as personal and emotionally charged as our choices in clothing, music and food.  Displaying artwork in our home is much less subjective and it is easy to stray off course.  While I was interviewing BB, a professional framer and art installer, for an earlier post our conversation took a turn towards the mistakes she encounters with regard to artwork in people’s homes.  I’d like to share those with you.

How to avoid making mistakes while hanging art on your walls.

The Common Mistakes People Make When Hanging Artwork


  1. Don’t use too small of piece for the scale of room or furniture. BB reiterated more than once, “I don’t know why but people have this thing about buying artwork too small and then hanging it over mammoth pieces of furniture.”


2.  Mix it up a bit. Don’t hang everything in a row around the room. Use two-dimensional (flat) pieces and three-dimensional (sculpture) in the same room.


The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that make you look like a doofus


3.   Allow for negative space, not every wall needs artwork.


4.   Don’t be afraid to hang a picture or mirror by a lamp. Layering is fine. This enhances the textural experience of a room.


5.   Hang artwork using two hooks or hanging points so nothing shifts. “I often go into homes where the cleaning crew has dusted the picture frames and left the artwork askew.”


Who wants to look at crooked pictures?


The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that make you look like a doofus

Two level hooks guarantee perfect picture hanging.


6.   Don’t hang pictures over doorways or “up in the sky” where they can’t be appreciated.


The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that make you look like a doofus

Who can see these tiny pictures up over a doorway?


7.   Too many family photos.  Designate a location on a wall for an impressive grouping and switch out photos, rather than bunching more in.


Let’s talk height :

A great rule of thumb to remember : 60 inches.

Height is the area people have the most trouble with. Solution : remember the number 60.  The phrase eye-level can be too subjective.  What you want to be concerned with is sight-line.  This is the area 60″ off the floor to the center of the piece or grouping where most people’s eyes rest comfortably.  It’s the same number used by professionals and museums.  It will work perfect for you too!


The 7 most common mistakes of hanging artwork that make you look like a doofus

Wrong height and wrong piece for area.


The purpose of hanging or placing works of art is to showcase them to their best advantage.  We’ve all seen artwork hung too high or too low.  We’ve seen items hung which just look wrong, and we aren’t certain why.  The girls from Decorating Hotline also have a few other Tips for Hanging Art you might enjoy.  If you avoid the 7 mistakes outlined above, your artwork should look fabulous.

Want more on art placement ? Stop over at Decor Girl for more design tips !

Thank you lisa

From Lynne :

Hey Lisa ! Thanks for the guest post.  I was tempted to add things like ‘size matters’ in inches… but thought I would behave myself on this post.  My bad.

Have an epic day ! Cheers !


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32 Responses

  1. Thank you for stopping by, CJ, Hanging artwork is one of those things nobody teaches but it is relevant to all. Once I learned, it changed my world & my walls. :)


  2. CJ Dellatore says:

    Great post. I’m able to handle a great many design tasks well, but I’m always stumped when it comes to hanging artwork., thanks for the tips!

  3. Suzanne says:

    These are very common mistakes that i have seen through in many houses. Even i hanged a picture over a doorways in my home , now i realized that people coming inside will have less chance looking at the picture above the door. I’ll change it for sure. Doing Home interior is an art, where arranging things inside in a perfect way is the key for excellence. Moving Companies

    • It seems often we use pictures as filler and have this odd need to “fill a space” on a wall and forget the point of hanging artwork in the first place. No worries, we’ve all been guilty of it. I’ve learned rooms are much more appealing without “stuff” hung all over the room. Rather than have a lot of pieces competing for the viewer’s attention, selecting a few primo pieces are much more pleasing. Good luck! :)


  4. Anne says:

    From my own experience designing my home, I found that this measurement guide was actually extremely helpful: Trying to get everything to fit is like a puzzle…this prevented me from just “sticking things anywhere”, resulting in a beautiful, well thought out space.

  5. beatriz_souza says:

    60. I’ll never forget this number!

    • It helps, and you just say that is how galleries do it and it stops any arguments. If you want to play between 60-62″, that’ll work too. Have fun.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thanks for sharing these information about the placement of art work and frames. A great post.

  7. mrsugarbears says:

    I love this post! I am guilty of walking through homes and straightening pictures for people. :)

  8. Sadie says:

    Great suggestions! Mixing up textures, sizes and types of wall hangings really makes a room come alive. Thanks for some new ideas. Commercial architect Tampa Bay FL

  9. lisa thomson says:

    Great tips! My particular pet peeve is when art is hung super high like it’s floating in the room. My B.F. thinks art should be hung high and myself, I like it low. I’m the trained interior decorator so I always get my way on this but he’s pretty opinionated. I have to admit he’s great at arranging furniture though. Nice site too, Lisa. I’ll be stopping by now that I know about you. :)

    • Thanks for commenting my fellow Lisa! Oh I know what you mean, I had to train the hubs that things needed to be hung lower than he thought. Now I just do it. If your BF is tall, it makes sense he wants things a bit higher but I go with the gallery peeps. If it is good enough for a museum, it is good enough for moi.


  10. I was relieved to see that I have only broken one of your rules here: I sometimes don;t do the two hook thing – oops! And this is despite the fact that I will almost always straighten a wonky picture, even in someone else’s home (surreptitiously). It’s funny how even though I am not in to home decor per se, all of the things you mention seem instinctive – some things just look wrong and creep me out. Hanging stuff above an entranceway, cluttered walls, no thought to texture -just no. I would also add, from the perspective of a decided amateur, that too many dominant colours make me feel uncomfortable and hemmed in for some reason. That may just be me. What do I know

    • Thanks for your comment Kellie. You didn’t break any rules. It was my picture hanger that taught me about the two hangers, This makes life much easier, I never have to readjust. I think most people notice poorly hung artwork, they just choose not to say anything. I’ve got a SIL that despite what I say she hangs stuff waaaaaay to high. But I can only do so much.


  11. Dave says:

    Nice work ladies.

    As an artist myself, and working in the lighting business, my biggest pet peeve is when these two things don’t work together. Adjust your lighting to highlight your artwork.


  12. Ha ha, thanks Lynne! Yes, I often want to say things like “size matters” too. I could do a whole post on that one…. maybe I will. Thanks for letting me hang on your blog today!


  13. Cindy says:

    I’ve been telling my hotel that their art needs to be hung at 66″ to center. Oh dear, do 6″ matter?

    I loved the link to Ellen. She seems like a very caring person. Would be fun to go to lunch with the two of you.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend. LOVE TO YOU.

    • Cindy, Hotel’s notoriously hang things way too high, too far apart and too wrong. However, my gallery hangers all swear by between 60″ and 62-63″ to be right midpoint for most people. Depending on location you might have to adjust it (via eyeball). Certain times those rules don’t work, like with odd ceiling heights or other architectural details.

      Thanks for visiting!

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