Your Step-by-Step Guide to Hanging and Arranging Pictures on a Wall

The process of hanging a new painting or a collection of family photos can feel overwhelming. There are multiple pieces to examine and there ultimately isn’t just one correct way to put them all together. Don’t be afraid to play with a few different arrangements before landing on the best one for your space—the most pleasing set up may be the one you least expect.

Necessary Materials

As is the case with any home decorating project, you’ll need a few basic supplies to get the job done correctly.

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Carpenter’s level (24 inches long)
  • 2 picture hooks
  • 2 D-rings

How to Hang Pictures

Conventional wisdom suggests that pictures be hung at eye level, but there are many good reasons to hang pieces above or below a standard height. In any setting, you will need to react to the architecture and the furniture in your specific space. As a starting point, though, begin by learning how to hang pictures at eye level.


When hanging pictures at eye level (or if you’re setting up a grid or a series of pieces) precise measuring is needed achieve even spacing. If you’re going by instinct as opposed to eye level, you don’t need to be as exact.

  1. When hanging something at an average eye level, position its center 57 to 60 inches from the floor.
  2. Use this formula: Divide the height of the frame by two; from that number, subtract the distance from the top of the frame to the hanging hardware; add this number to 57, 58, 59, or 60.
  3. The final sum is the height (measured from the floor), and where the hangers should be put into the wall.


When it’s time to hang your art, use the method that provides the most stability. It’s usually best to use two picture hangers, so frames don’t swing or tilt.

  1. Install two D-rings on the back of the frame, directly opposite each other.
  2. Once you’ve decided where you want to hang a picture, make a mark on the wall in pencil for each hook; use the level to make sure the marks are at the same height.
  3. Hammer one picture hook into each mark you made on the wall.
  4. Pick up your picture and hook the D-rings over the picture hooks to hang your piece.

How to Arrange Pictures

The arrangement of frames on a wall has as much impact as the pictures themselves. A precise grid gives a formal look, while a group of pictures hung within a set square or rectangle feels instantly more casual. Whether you’re working with a grouping of pictures or just one, artwork should generally be centered horizontally between two points, which makes a room feel balanced.

Plot Out Your Pictures

First, set out the pictures you want to hang; prop them against the walls, and consider your options. Look at every reasonable possibility. Have someone hold a piece up to the wall while you stand back and appraise (just cover the hanging hardware with masking tape first to keep it from scratching the paint). If you are grouping several pieces together, arrange and rearrange them on the floor until you find a composition you like.

Find a Common Thread Between Artwork

In most groupings, a common thread will tie the pieces together. Perhaps the pictures are part of a set or collection. If not, maybe the frames share the same style or the mats are all the same color. Sometimes, a grouping may not need a linking element—the only unifying theme may be its diversity. Such collections take a little more nerve and are best suited to a less formal room.

Let Your Furnishings Guide You

A few inches’ shift in a hanging arrangement can affect the tone of an entire room. Move the pictures over a sofa or chair down a bit and the area will become more cohesive and cozy. Emphasize a chair rail by running a series of photos right above it. Hang several small pieces just over a desk—they’ll provide a refreshing view when you look up from your work.

How to Arrange an Eclectic Group of Pictures

Mismatched elements are more of a challenge to hang than a set of identical prints in similar frames, but the results can be compelling and really make a room. Sketches, oil paintings, architectural renderings, a display of cameos, and a decorative wall bracket could be arranged in a free-form, asymmetrical grouping. The frames can be varied, but should share a somewhat formal feel to prevent your arrangement from feeling too chaotic.

Before putting a hole in the wall, establish the arrangement of pictures and pieces. Lay them out on the floor and up against a wall or piece of furniture; move them until the results suit you. For a mismatched grouping, the spacing doesn’t need to be even, but try to avoid unbroken “rivers” of space running horizontally or vertically between pictures. Once your arrangement is set, use the same steps outlined above to hang the art.

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