The location at which you hang art depends on the wall height, the position from which you view it and the artwork’s size. For a standard 8-foot high gallery wall viewed from a standing position, the optimal position for a painting or piece of art is eye level. Place the artwork so that its center is roughly 57 inches to 63 inches above the floor.
Average eye level -- from 57 to 63 inches -- might not work for your home, since it depends on the height of the home’s occupants. For example, if the home’s residents are over 6 feet tall, add the total inches and divide by 2 to determine average height. Measure the eye level up from the floor for the average height of the occupants, and make a mark on the wall. Arrange the artwork so that its center point -- its total height divided by 2 -- rests on that mark.
You don’t have to place all your artwork at eye level, especially if you have a house with taller ceilings. While it defeats the purpose to hang artwork too high so that you have to crane your neck to see it, a large and open two-story great room presents an opportunity to add artwork higher than normal. This also makes the ceiling less far away. Tall walls offer an opportunity to add artwork tapestries or a series of art canvases that start much higher on the wall, but end up at eye level.
Above Couches or Tables
The same basic rule of thumb applies when hanging artwork above a couch, fireplace, television, wainscoting or other architectural features: Eye level from a standing position works best. When you hang artwork above a couch, though, verify that its center is at eye level, but the entire piece is centered over the couch. If you do a series of three or four paintings above a couch, for example, verify they have the same amount of empty space on either side of the grouping and at least 1 to 3 inches between them. Hang the artwork approximately 6 to 8 inches above the back of the couch or 10 to 12 inches above a sofa table.
Create a Template
Create a paper template of the artwork from newspaper or butcher paper and tape it at various locations on the wall to get a feel for how it looks. You can also cut out several templates when arranging a grouping to avoid having to rehang them until they look right. Align the bottoms and tops of several pieces of artwork along a common line at eye level to create an appealing gallery wall.
Hang artwork in dining rooms meant for the view of diners at eye level when seated. When putting artwork on the wall, choose hangers rated to handle the weight of the piece. Heavy wooden-framed paintings hung on a simple nail, not secured to the stud in the wall, will eventually come crashing down -- and may cause injury or damage. Use anchor bolts, toggle bolts or a cleat hanger to handle heavier pieces when you cannot secure the hanger directly into a stud.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.