What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Posted 30 May 2011 at 3:10 PM | Comments (6)

An exquisite New Orleans living room, a striking painting by Aaron Collier—so what’s wrong with this picture? I mean, besides the fact that I Photoshopped it:

Painting Above a Couch Photoshopped Too High

To a lot of you it looks just fine. And that’s precisely the problem! A lot of you are hanging your pictures too high above your couch. What’s wrong with that picture is that I Photoshopped it higher up on the wall.

Here’s the original image from Lonny:

How High to Hang a Painting Above a Couch, Image from Lonny May/June 2011

When hanging pictures, keep a couple of things in mind. First, it shouldn’t just be centered on a wall without regard to the other items in your home. In the Photoshopped image above, the painting is just floating on the wall with no relationship to the couch, or anything else. You’re saying, “But I thought white space was a good thing!” Well, it is, but you’re not losing any white space by hanging it lower. In fact, you’re improving things by giving the couch and the painting a relationship. In the original image from Lonny, the painting is part of a design which includes—rather than excludes—the couch.

Second, in general, pictures should be hung at eye-level. Not centered on the wall, and not above your head. At eye-level. Whose eye level, you ask? Take the average eye-level, which is 57 inches high. So the center of your picture should be at 57 inches. This is the standard practice in most galleries and museums, and believe me, it makes a huge difference.

I’d like to take a moment to apologize if I ever laughed in your apartment when I had to look up to see the photo hanging on your wall. I’m taller than the average woman! I shouldn’t be looking up to see that you took a nice photo of your kitty! Okay, maybe I’m not sorry that I laughed—but I’m sorry if it made you feel bad. Now… get to re-hanging everything!

6 Responses to What’s Wrong With This Picture?

  1. thank you Mojan! — i have had this conversation with many people…. who still don’t listen to me ;o) perhaps i can send them here!

  2. Jeanine says:

    I think I have spatial dyslexia. I can never tell where to hang a picture/mirror/whatever. I’m glad to have an objective criteria now. Thanks Mojan!

  3. elham says:

    Sorry, still not convinced. I have never hung – and will never hang – pictures that low for the simple, pratical reason that I don’t want people’s heads hitting them when they lean back on the couch/chair. Plus I want people across from them to see the image without a person’s head blocking the bottom. This is independent of the fact that low-hanging pictures always leave me the impression of having ‘slipped’ down when people weren’t looking. If we are willing to crane our necks to check out the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I’m happy to lift my chin up a centimeter or 2.

  4. Amelia says:

    Yeeeesss but what about People Living with Toddlers? Those who like to reach up and pull on things? Can they get a pass on this one?

  5. Mojan says:

    Elham, I knew someone was going to bring up that point! So do you know what? Hang it three inches higher, or as much as you need to keep it above heads. Just not twelve inches higher, please.

    Amelia, yes, that’s a concern of ours too, and sure, you can get a pass — but again, make the increase minimal. And once the toddlers stop pulling on the art in your home, there’s no more excuse! 😉

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