Monday, October 6, 2008

The Height of Art

One of the most common mistakes I see, and—oddly enough—one of the most common questions I receive, relates to the height at which artwork and wall decor is hung. There is a simple answer. A Rule of Thumb. Are you ready? Write this down. Tattoo it on your butt cheek. Well, maybe not your butt cheek, because you’d have a hard time reading it. Unless you stood in front of a mirror. But then it would appear backwards, so you’d have to ask the tattoo artist to print it backwards in the first place, and then it would be really confusing. Especially during intimate moments. There’d be a lot of questions.

Sorry. Right. Here it is:

The correct height at which to hang artwork and wall decor…
EYE LEVEL or 60"

Any artwork, mirrors, wall decor, photographs, collections, tapestries, etc. should be hung so their vertical centers are at 60" from the floor.

You’ll notice I mentioned collections. This refers to groupings of art or photographs, which are so popular now. You want to plan them so the entire collection’s center is at eye level, or again, 60" from the floor.

We want to look at artwork, not up to it.

Of course, this is a guideline and my recommendation only, and there are exceptions. In a dining room for example, where most of your time is spent sitting, you may want to lower that height a bit, to maybe 54". I have little prints hung particularly low, to balance a lamp on my guest room’s night stand, or by a bathroom sink.

What are your burning decorating questions?
Leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to reply!


  1. Great tip! I am guilty of occasionally not having my art up at eye level . . . there are a few pieces in my house that I've been procrastinating moving down for a couple years now. Hmmmmm. Really should do it.

    You'll be sorry you asked if we had decorating questions, b/c I have dozens :-) My first I'll keep very general. Do you have any basic tips for decorating a very, very small space? We are not ready to move to a bigger home just yet, and I'm tired of feeling overrun with "kids" stuff everywhere and want to enhance some of the modern look we have started.

  2. Hi Shannon!

    Small spaces can indeed be tricky. Multi-tasking is key. Find pieces that work double-duty. Like ottomans that can store things inside, or beds with drawers underneath (even under-bed bins).

    Another big trick is to use the height in every room. Build shelves around the perimeter of all rooms, where possible—for books, bins, keepsakes. These shelves can be shallow (6" deep) and about 18" down from the ceiling. Nice in bathrooms to store extra towels and toiletries in pretty baskets.

    Also, when buying furniture, keep the scale small. Many lines include "condo" or "apartment" size sofas, love seats and chairs—with shallower seat depths and shorter lengths. These items help keep a room’s proportion in check, and still allow for good traffic flow.

    A great idea for a post - I'll try to incorporate more small space tips at Joe Girl in the future!

  3. Thank you! I have been having this argument with my husband, because he hangs things at his eye level, which is way above everybody else's. I'm glad there is actually a rule for this.

  4. Thank you for this excellent information. I've always wondered about this.

  5. I had to laugh, Anna - I have the same problem! I'm a little on the tall side, but I forget since most of my friends are my height. I tend to hang things too high. Until I learned about the sixty inch rule. Now I hang art with a level and a tape measure, and all my friends laugh at me for being seriously anal about hanging pictures exactly ... in a room I'm likely to not bother hanging up my clothes.

    Thanks for the reminder Joe!

  6. Geesh!Not even a piece of dust! :)

  7. Thanks for your comments!

    Anna: Never leave any type of decorating work to your husband.

    Jill: It's surprising how many people wonder the same thing!

    Melanie: It's your place. Be anal!

    M(ark): Oh yes. There is dust.

  8. This is a rule my mother taught me years ago. I will show my husband your post later this evening though, because he won't believe my mother, or me!