All Hung Up

Photos, artwork, artefacts: We all have walls that need decoration and these are the kinds of things we like to hang on our walls.  But as we come to do it, we realise there is a lot more to 'hanging' than simply drilling in a hook and placing said object on the wall.  Centre?  Clusters?  Symmetry?  Matching colours?  All a bit much, right?

We hear you and so does The Hangman.  So much so he has built a business around helping us get the look just right.  Having engaged with him to do some work with our clients, we decided to pick his brains on what we should consider when getting ready to hang and what his top tips are.  

Q. How do you actually hang art - what tools//equipment/hardware do you need?

A.  For lightweight items (eg under 5kg), where conventional hooks & nails are required, the tools you need are : hammer, pencil, tape measure, spirit level. For the picture frame : d-rings (articulated ‘D’ shaped tabs that are screwed into the rear of the frame) or eyelets, hooks, nails.  For heavier items (eg over 5kg), appropriate expanding plugs will be required if installing into gib, so a drill is needed. 

Q. Should you only hang it on a nog or is straight into gib fine? (any suggestions around weight etc)

A. Under 5kg, as long as there are 2 hooks per picture (as there should always be - never hang from one hook alone) : nails should be fine. 

Q. How high above a piece of furniture such as a couch or a bed should you hang?

A. There is no ‘set rule’ here - as a guideline, position the midpoint of the picture at eye level. That said, a number of other factors can cause this guideline to be adjusted : stud height, presence of furniture. It’s basically “what looks right, is right” - try to achieve a balance so that the visible wall below the item, looks in proportion to the visible wall above the item. 

Q. When hanging a piece above furniture - do you centre it over the furniture or centre it on the wall?

A. In 90% of cases : over the furniture. 

Q. What's the starting point when you're hanging several or more pieces together (i.e. do you start with the biggest piece and work out from there - or should the largest piece be on the left or right?)

A. Choose the focal point (not necessarily the largest, although in in most cases it is due to sheer size) and build around that - it should be central. 

Q. Should all the frames be level at the top or the bottom  - or not at all?

A. It depends! The most common method is to align the vertical centres of all pictures - especially of there is significant variation in the heights of the various items. In more modern homes, and if the items are all of similar size, it’s possible to ‘bottom align’ the items (ie align their bottom edges). Top aligning is less usual. 

Q. What about when you're hanging a collage along a staircase wall - do you keep a straight line anywhere or do you follow the diagonal line of the stairs?

A. Follow the line of the stairs. 

Q. How do you create an interesting collage? Should you mix frame colours - photos with prints and oils etc? And of course - picture size - a wall of 15 pictures can look so boring if they're all the same size.  

A. My feeling, is that the most timeless & elegant collages are those created by combining black & white images, black frames (all of which are the same ‘profile’ (ie the shape/dimension of material that the frame itself is made of). It’s important to have a mixture of frame sizes (eg 4” x 6”, 5” x 7”, 6” x 8” etc) and choose some photographs in portrait orientation, and some in landscape orientation. This helps to create a more organic shaped collage, rather than one with rigid straight borders. 

Q. What about styles of art in different parts of your house - i.e. what looks good in a bedroom  - and what about art in the kitchen - what looks good here?

A. People typically want more restful styles in bedrooms - be that expressed through colour, subject matter, style. Living spaces are more accomodating - here you can have more bold and bright items, if that’s what you’re in to. In the kitchen : often people will choose items that in some way carry the food theme : often the subject matter itself could depict something related to food, or dining. Decorative plates are a good option in a kitchen, as they are easily cleaned of airborne particles that often exist around kitchens. 

Q. And what about scale - how small is too small and how big is too big?

A. Again, it’s basically “what looks right, is right” - try to achieve a balance so that the visible wall around the item : above, below, left & right. The larger the item, the more visible wall around it the item will require. As a general rule, ensure that you have at least 50% of the item’s width available on either side, before elements such as door frames, light-switches etc, are located. 

Thank you for your wisdom.

To learn more about The Hangman, check out his website and connect with him on social

Nikki McNamara