How To Choose The Right Picture Frame And Hang Wall Art

Turquoise Water - Fine art print by Cattie Coyle Photography in beach house bedroom

With all the different options out there, choosing the right frame for your art can be tricky. And then, once it’s framed, how do you hang the piece properly? Dara Deshe, Founder and CEO of Simply Framed, shares her expertise and lots of great art framing and hanging tips!

How do you choose frame color? Does it depend on the art? Or the wall color?

The most common mistake we see people make is choosing a frame to match their home, rather than to complement their art. At Simply Framed we believe it's about whatever you are framing and not the frame itself. Since design trends change, we recommend picking a frame that is timeless and can work from room to room. When in doubt, our go to is a square cap frame, such as our Gallery White, Gallery Black, or Gallery Natural frame.

How do you decide on using a mat vs. no mat?

In addition to the frame, choosing the proper mat style is equally important in creating a cohesive long-lasting design. For smaller art pieces and personal photos, we recommend a 1.5-3” mat. For art over 16x20” we recommend a 2-3” mat size or a No Mat full-bleed mat style. If you choose to go with No Mat and you are framing an original or limited edition artwork, make sure to add a spacer to keep the plexiglass from touching the surface of the art.

Can a piece of art be too big for a wall?

Yes, the center of the frame should be hung at the average eye level of 57” (“the 57 rule”). We recommend enough breathing room on each side of the frame to prevent a cramped design. That said, there are some spaces, like alcoves or mud rooms, where stylistically a nearly wall to wall frame can add an element of drama and fit well. Page 14-17 of our new Hanging Guide shares a bunch of great tips for hanging best practices.

What do you do if you have an art piece you love, but it’s too small for the wall space you want to hang it on?

It really depends on the piece and the space you’re looking to fill. If it’s not yet framed, you could try matting with an oversized mat, like this example. If your piece is too small to hang alone on the wall, make it the focal point of a gallery wall design. To get started, lay down the pieces you are using for the design on the floor (preferably on a rug) and rearrange as needed. If design isn’t one of your strengths, you can reach out to our design team at hello@simplyframed.com for recommendations.

When hanging several prints on the same wall, should the frames match? Or is it OK to mix frame colors and styles?

When choosing your frame mouldings, always start with selecting a frame that compliments the art first. This technique makes for a more interesting gallery wall, if you are looking to hang multiple frames in one space, while ensuring the frame will look phenomenal on its own if hung separately. That being said, if everything you own is framed in one color, you may want to just stick to your personal palette and that is a-okay too.

How far apart should artwork be hung?

Depends on the room. Where art is hung can distinguish or connect spaces in your home. Different styles of art can designate separate areas in an open floor plan, while pieces that relate to each other may bridge gaps between rooms. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider creating smaller clusters of frames with larger areas of space in between. If you have a larger framed piece, hang it on an isolated area of the wall. When in doubt, I browse images by all-star interior designers like Robert Stilin and Grisoro Studio, because they masterfully hang a lot of beautiful art in their designs. I sometimes google image search “Soho House art collection” for inspiration too.

What is the correct way to hang wall art?

First and foremost, pick the right place. While each space is unique, there are a few universal rules that should be considered

  • Hang art 57” from the floor to the center of the frame
  • Center the frame 6-8”, if hung above furniture
  • Avoid hanging framed art in areas with high humidity (a.k.a bathrooms with showers) or direct sunlight. A better choice for humid spaces are acrylic glass or metal prints.
  • For groups of frames, like a triptych or gallery wall, treat the entire collection as a single, oversized piece, and follow the guidelines above.
You can read more about how to hang frames based on their hardware with our Hanging Guide.

How far from the ceiling should a picture be hung?

In general, aim to hang the center of your artwork 57 inches above the floor, which would be at eye level for most people. This can vary from room-to-room depending on the purpose or design. For instance, sophisticated art hung up high can make a kid's play area multifunctional and less likely to be dinged or smudged by tiny fingers.

How do you hang heavy art?

Hanging something from a stud or selecting a French cleat for the hanging hardware can add a great deal more security, however if it’s really heavy we would suggest hiring a credentialed professional to assist with your installation. It’s what I do for myself and I’m always 100% happy I made that choice (this applies to hanging things like mirrors, too).

How much weight can picture hangers hold?

This really depends on the wall and the type of hardware you’re using. Our guides are also based on using our frame styles, which tend to be more minimalist and lightweight as well as plexiglass, which is much lighter than glass.

We love Sawtooth hangers for their simplicity and ease, but they are not graded to hold as much weight as Wire or Corner Hangers. Because of this we recommend Sawtooth hangers for frames 11x14” and under and Wire and Corner Hangers for frames over 11x14”.

Wood cleats are sturdy, simple, and clean. This hardware option is exclusively available with our Black Label collection and can support our oversized frames as large as 48x72”, our current maximum size.

How can you hang art on the wall without nails? Are Command Strips good for hanging pictures?

Since each wall surface and the ability of a command hook to adhere to a wall differs, we do not recommend command strips and hooks for hanging frames, at least not for the long term. In the short term, like for a photoshoot, it can be okay, but you need to follow their directions and guidelines closely.

If hardware cannot be installed to securely support the frame, we recommend a design that incorporates leaning frames against the wall, either on a shelf or piece of furniture.

Thank you so much, Dara, for sharing all this great information! If you have any other questions about framing and hanging art, just ask in the comments below!


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