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Style Tips: Displaying Art

by | Feb 18, 2008 | Decorating Inspiration, Details, Style Tips

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Style Tips: Displaying Art

Are there any rules for where to hang art or photos? Oh, probably someone keeps a rule book. But just between you and me, I’m a rule breaker. Some say you cannot hang art on any wall smaller than 3 feet wide (yes, I break this one). Some say you must hang art at eye level (I’m pretty good with keeping this rule if I am hanging just a piece or two, but I do like to hang photos gallery style up and down walls and over doorways, so not everything is actually at eye level). Others say you must hang smaller frames on top of bigger frames and line everything up perfectly (I dislike that rule too, I like big on top of little and like to sometimes have frames arranged at random than perfectly symetrical). What about using matching or similar frames? (I am not adverse to mixing frame styles and finishes if your house style will accept the eclectic feel). While I do believe art should be hung so it connects to art around it and isn’t floating high above furnishings (the number one art hanging mistake!), a lot of rules can be tossed out the window. They just don’t always apply.

The types of art, the frames you choose, and the way you prefer to hang your photos or art pieces will help define your style. I worry less about the rules and more about how the art contributes to the overall look of the room.

For some quick style tips, here are some various ways you can hang art that might break a few rules but give you freedom for great personal style:

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Pottery Barn — easily changeable art ledge

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Laurey W. Glenn Southern Living #751166

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Southern Accents Photo #771431 Jeff McNamara photo Mark Mareska designer

Style Tips: Displaying Art

via Cote de Texas blog

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Southern Living Photo #751215 – Photos hung by upholstery tacts

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Street of Dreams Portland Oregon 2007 – some frames hung and part resting on rail

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Joni’s living room Cote De Texas (note paintings on stands and hung on outer edge of bookcase frame)

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Kate Spade’s home from The World of Interiors Dec 06, designer Steven Sclaroff via All the Best

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Style Tips: Displaying Art

Martha Stewart – ever changing art galleries
Style Tips: Displaying Art
Villa Gallici (art in fabric frame hung on a mirror)


  1. Sandra Evertson

    Great post ! That silver leaf wall is amazing!
    Sandra Evertson
    And cute pooch!

  2. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    Great post…so many tips! Thank you a gazillion times for saying that one painting shouldn’t be hung too high. You’re so right…it must be the number one mistake. All the rule breaking works as all these examples of it look wonderful.

  3. megan duerksen

    i love picture walls!
    sometimes i think…”is this too many pictures? can i really have another wall of pictures?!” and i think you gave the answer.
    you can never have too many pictures.
    love them all.
    my favorite….the stairway.

  4. Jenn and Jacqui

    Hi Melissa, great post, great photos and inspirational ieas……could not have come at a more perfect time as we tweak the decor in the Nest! Love that you put Kate Spade in :) Rule breaker, love that! We are totally with you! Jenn and Jacqui xo

  5. totallyscrappy

    I love the silver wall with the empty frames!
    I’ve always wanted to do that cork strip by the kids’ bedroom.
    Lots of clever ideas!

  6. janet

    The more pictures the merrier. I think having lots of art helps add character to a characterless space. Oh and mirrors, lots of mirrors aka “poor mans art”.


  7. Rachael

    Good post, I love grouping pictures:) Rachael

  8. kari & kijsa

    You are invited to a SURPRISE BLOGGY BIRTHDAY PARTY for kari this Wednesday, Feb 20.
    She is turning 40!!!

    I would love for you to stop by the party on Wednesday to surprise (hopefully!) the birthday girl, enjoy a bite of cake, sprinkle a little of your magic birthday dust, and check out the party favor giveaway!


  9. cote de texas

    I love that first picture – for so many reasons. First- it’s just beautiful, the empty frames. And second, it’s comical – you’re writing a post about art and there’s no art! Too cute!!!
    But boy, that sure is a messy room from Cote de Texas. ugggh. Needs major editing.

  10. Kathleen Grace

    Always inspiring and fun. My wall of pictures could use a little tweaking and now I have some ideas:>) Thanks!

  11. Tara


    These are the final touches –framed pics–that make a room HOMEY and yours. Funny, my post today is about framed art, too! (Not quite as polished as Kate Spade’s but just as valuable to me!) Take a peek!

  12. Elzie

    I’m used to paintings all over the walls. My parents had them and my mother still does LOL. I’m not that fond of it, but if you have them you just can’t let them lay somewhere. We have some paintings I would gladly sell (!) but my DH refuses.
    Don’t get me wrong here. I DO like paintings but not just everywhere. I prefer pictures of our kids if I shall have something. And – thankfully – we all have different ways to see this and that’s a blessing. You can do whatever you want in your own home. Without that rule book LOL.
    Hope you have a good Tuesday my friend.
    Love Elzie

  13. perfect bound

    What a perfect excuse for collecting more art. Beautiful collection of photos.

  14. JO

    I love seeing a wall that is completely covered with pictures or art and different frames… so eclectic… I think this can be used in any style of home by matching the frames with the decor… Love love love this post!!

    And I so agree… it is so difficult to go into a home and see a piece of art hanging so high it almost reaches the ceiling… uggghhhhh my brother and his wife do this and no matter how much I tell them its a no … they ignore me

    se la vie


  15. snhamlett

    Gosh, I’m totally in love with that one picture with the yellow flowers and turquoise lamp and yellow wall paper! When I get the space to have my own studio, THAT is the look I’ll be going for.

    Great post Melissa!


    P.S. If anyone knows where to buy faux coral like in the one picture from Cote de Texas, will ya send me a link? That’s exactly what I need to finish off my dining room table tablescape.

  16. Lisa

    Hi Ho!
    Lots and lots of inspiration, here! thanks for stopping by and checking out that fabulous Coastal interior job I had blogged about. We are in the middle of a flip out at our pacific beach. I will be posting photos along the way. I hope you all can join me, I will have lots of interiors to choose from, and opinions to be heard, the more the merrier! I love all the great inspiration you gals offer. Its fun, when theres more than one! come on over and see whats happening at the beach!

    from one house lover to another!
    coastal nest

  17. Mary

    Great post, Melissa! I’m afraid I’m a rule-breaker, too. I love to hang a small picture at eye level next to my desk or love seat – so that you can see it while seated. I don’t know whether I would do that in a reception room, but in a bedroom, it makes for a very lovely, intimate experience, especially if the painting holds special memories.

    have a wonderful week!

  18. Rachel Going

    Once again, YOU my dear have inspired me to get the one wall finished that I’ve been working getting decorated with empty frames! Thank you! Love, Rachel

  19. Carrie Oak Rise Cottage

    Fabulous post! I really enjoy a multiplicity of pictures on a wall.

  20. Gail McCormack

    Thanks Melissa for a great post, the pictures are fabulous, like you I’m an expert at breaking rules!

  21. Jean

    I’ve also always wanted to do the empty ornate frame thing on one of my walls. Unfortunately, I’m all out of empty walls!

  22. Rhoda

    Oh, I too think that rules are meant to be broken. Just goes to show you that lots of pictures all over the place can work in certain situations too. More is more!


  23. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    I say “Fooey” on the rules. I like that look of pictures that are layered – like on the stairs – perfect!!! The more, the merrier! Gives the eye a lot to take in and sure turns a boring wall into a work of art.


  24. Terri

    Great post! Wow, hanging art has changed so much. As a young lady, the only time I would see assorted odd-sized frames and a zillion pictures per wall were in the homes (and photos of homes) of very eccentric and/or wealthy types. I remember visiting, with a university chum, people he knew in New York who had bags of money. Their house was fascinating…they had framed pictures (sketches, paintings) everywhere, hung in crazy places and entirely mis-matched (except all expensive-looking!). As I recall, they also had area rugs piled on the floor so deep it was hard to find bottom.

    Anyway, now the trend is to capture the “eccentric” look in our own homes! I really like the look but it really does need to be very studied and carefully done to actually look good. Either frames need to co-exist nicely, or the subject matter must relate, or the palette relates, or something. Otherwise it looks like a mess to me! This, of course, is not the case if the house is architecturally stunning, in which case Crayola drawings in Ikea frames look amazing. Like a burlap sack on a model…

    :) Love the look, but find it annoyingly trendy also…

  25. Natasha Burns

    Melissa these are great ideas! Love the inspiration! It’s always good to find a way to group things together nicely without just one thing on a wall!!!

  26. Christine

    You know..I’ve actually been in a bit of a quandry! I want to spruce up our wee living room and was wondering what to do with our ‘wall of honor’ for the boys… I have been inspired! I can move those pictures and not feel guilty!! They are going up the steps!! YAY!! Thank you dear!!

  27. Jeannene

    Come back Melissa, didn’t you see your name in there!!! Come pick up your Award for best inspiration for Decorating tips..:-))

  28. Neutral Dwelling

    Out of all of the lovely pics, my fave is the first one with the empty frames! Something about it just strikes me.

  29. Cre8Tiva

    i love the silver leaf wall in the first photo..and i am going to hang my gazillion paintingsfrom floor to ceiling…i have a house with no walls and an abundance of artwork…so now i know how to hang it…thank you, rebecca

  30. shelbi

    thank you once again for inspiring me melissa! i loved everyone of these awesome displays :)

  31. Adla

    Wonderful tips Melissa. I personally Love my frames hung in a group. one big happy frame family side by side!

  32. jennnifer ramos

    I LOVE the top arrangement the best…the empty frames look super cute…perhaps i can do that somewhere at home…maybe a bathroom…hmmm

    Jen Ramos
    ‘100% Recycled DESIGNER Cards’

  33. mary

    come sempre stupende ambientazioni!!!
    baci mary

  34. Aimee

    Those are some great ideas – thanks for sharing! I always have so many photos and need new ideas on displaying them.

  35. MrsBranham

    Thanks Melissa! We’re so excited about the baby, and a little overwhelmed too! I just can’t wait for the sickness to be over.

    Anywho, I love the bulletin board wall from Martha Stewart- I considered doing something similar in our home office. Maybe I will revisit the idea when we combine the office and the guest bedroom to make room for a nursery. – You’re tips are always great!

    Blessings! and I hope you find balance too, although if you’re like me this is a theme you will revisit often!

  36. Stan

    Nice tip for everyone!

  37. hookedonhouses

    These photos are all so beautiful that I came back again today to look at them again. I’m drooling. Thanks for the inspiration! -Julia :-)

  38. Mrs. Jones

    I decided to tackle the pile of picture frames that has been sitting in my bedroom since I moved in 2 years ago. So your post is very timely. Thanks!


  39. Emily

    I love this post. I am actually in the middle of doing a hallway decorated with picture frames for a client and was stressing about how to hang them- you’ve just inspired me to do something irregular and creative as opposed to the standard symmetrical, same frame finish, arrangements. Thanks! :)

    Emily @ Material Girls

  40. Kaitlyn

    These are so neat! The Street of Dreams Portland Oregon gallery really stands out to me. Thanks for sharing these inspiration photos!


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