How to Hang Art Like a Pro

How to create the perfect display-and how to do it safely

decorating-with-art-art.jpgdecorating-with-art-art.jpgThe joy of purchasing a new piece of art can quickly turn to stress when it comes time to hang it. How high should it be mounted on the wall? How can it be arranged with other pieces to create an inspired statement? And, crucially, how can you be sure it's safe and secure and won't end up crashing to the floor?

To help answer these questions, we turned to David Kassel, the founder of ILevel, a New York-based professional art placement and installation service that counts Albert Hadley, Bunny Williams, and Victoria Hagan among its many clients.

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Hanging Basics

Contrary to popular belief, Kassel says you needn't hammer nails into studs, nor install hefty drywall anchors to support art. Here's how he does it:

• Use picture-hanging hooks, rather than heavy nails or screws. They are very secure. "It's all based on shear weight," says Kassel. "The picture hooks go into the wall on an angle, like a cat's claw-it's a whole different set of physics."

• Buy the right type of hook for your artwork's weight. "There are basically three types," says Kassel. "A one-nail picture hook holds things that are 30 pounds or lighter. A two-nail picture hook holds pieces that are about 50 pounds. A three-nail picture hook holds pieces that are about 75 to 100 pounds.

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• When possible, install two D-rings, rather than a wire, on the backs of frames, to hang from the picture hooks.

• Use a level and ruler to ensure that both the picture hooks and D-rings are aligned when installed.


Stylish Arrangements

• Recruit a helper who can hold pieces against the wall before you begin hammering in the picture hooks. "Then you can take a step back to see what the space is going to look like with the piece there," says Kassel.

• When hanging a single piece on a wall, the center of the picture should be about 60 inches off the ground, which places it at eye level.

• When hanging a pair of works, one above the other, treat them as one large picture (whether they're the same or different sizes). Find the center point between them, and use the same 60-inch rule.

• For spacing between art on the same wall, "Generally, we'll use two inches between larger pictures," says Kassel. "If they're all smaller family photos, we might use an inch and a half between them."

• When arranging multiple pieces, don't just think in terms of a grid. "What's really becoming popular are salon installations-a group of often disparate images or frames," clustered together, says Kassel. "There's no right or wrong way to do it," he says. "We just start in the middle and work our way out."

Kassel says the most important tip is to have fun when hanging art, and not to worry too much about getting things perfect. "You're not doing anything structural to your walls, and your house isn't going to fall down if you don't hang the pictures right," he says. "If you hang something up and want to move it, it's really easy to fix the problem," with a little spackle.


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