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Art advice - 13 March 2018

Kate Watson-Smyth’s art hanging guide

Once you have chosen your art and had it delivered, you need to work out the next stage. Where and how are you going to hang it? While the where will always be a personal preference, the how needs to adhere to certain guidelines.

Don’t hang it too high!

Kate Watson-Smyth in her beautiful homeSo often people perch their paintings perilously close to the ceiling and no-one can actually see them. A good rule of thumb is that the middle of the painting should be roughly at eye height and you just need to use a bit of common sense and instinct if you live with someone who is of a wildly different height. Or aim for about five foot from the floor as a general guide.

The next thing to check is that the top of the painting isn’t level with the top of the door or a window. That creates too many straight lines so try and vary it a little. If it’s hanging near shelves then aim to have the top of the picture landing between two.

Now while people will tell you there are rules about the size of a painting for the size of the wall, my experience tells me that you don’t always have that much choice. On the basis that we can’t choose who we fall in love with, neither can we dictate the size of the artwork that tugs at our heartstrings and persuades our purses to open.

What to do if the perfect picture is too small for the space?

Kate Watson-Smyth interior

Well aside from the obvious; hang it somewhere else and keep looking for a larger one, you can also make a statement with a small picture in a big space. Rather than putting it in the middle of the wall where it might look lost, hang it low and off centre. That looks more considered and will make its own statement. 

Generally speaking, as long as there’s room on the wall for the large picture then it won’t be too big. Just make sure you give it room to breathe and don’t clutter it!

How to get a gallery wall right?

One of the most popular, and hardest to get right, ways to hang art is in a gallery. I have lost count of how many emails I get asking with help to style a gallery wall. There are a few tips.

First lay it all out on the floor so you can get a sense of how much space you want to leave between the pictures and how much of the wall it’s all going to take up.

Stand on a chair and take a picture – it can be easier to judge that way. Or if you buy command strips you can go straight for the wall and rearrange until you feel it’s right.

Finally, if neither of those options work for you then stick “gallery wall” into Pinterest and copy some of the ones that come up there.

When it comes to frames on a gallery wall, there are no rules. Choose what you like but it will work best if they are all different sizes. If they are all the same size and frame then a grid formation will look better rather than a more organic gallery.

For more tips and tricks on hanging art then head over to Kate Watson-Smyth’s blog -
Want to steal Mad About The House’s seriously stylish look? Browse and buy from her top ten edit »


Kate Watson-Smyth is a journalist who has written for the national press (including The Financial Times, The Independent and The Daily Mail) for over 20 years. She set up her award-winning blog in 2012 and her second book: Mad About The House, how to decorate your home with style is out in March (Pavilion £20).

She was named as one of Stella Magazine’s 50 Women to follow in 2018 and her Instagram account is ranked in the top ten interiors accounts by British Vogue. She also runs an interior consulting business: Mad About Your House.

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