Salon Style Part Two: Saving your Walls and Sanity

In my last post I promised tips for hanging a group of pictures on a wall without unnecessary damage to either the wall or your psyche. This method makes hanging the artwork as easy as it can possibly be. I'm not gonna lie, I lifted this from Martha Stewart many years ago. But hey, it works. It has helped me through many tricky show hangings and is worth passing along. Here's how to do it. What you will need:

  • Newspaper or kraft paper
  • Scissors or straight edge/knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape or blue painter's tape
  • Hanging hooks or nails
  • Hammer
  • Level

Once you have decided on your group of pictures, cut a piece of paper the same size as each picture's outside dimensions. Find a spot on the floor as least as big as your available wall space. If the area is much bigger than the wall area, you might want to mark the outside dimensions of your wall area to help you envision how the layout will look. Start in the middle of the available space, at what would be roughly eye level on the wall (about 5 feet or so). Lay out the paper squares representing your largest pieces first, then work your way out with smaller pieces until you find an arrangement that is pleasing to you. I've listed layout tips in my previous post here.

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Once you get the arrangement you want, you might want to take a digital photo or create a sketch of the layout.

Now, the part that makes hanging the actual pictures a snap. For each picture, you will find out exactly where you need to place the hooks or nails in the wall. Turn the picture face down (if it is a pastel, please do so very gently---any loose dust that falls on the glass could end up on your mat when you turn it over). You can use one nail or hook per picture, but I prefer two. Choose a distance a few inches in from each side, say 6". Lightly mark the measurement just beneath the hanging wire.

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Now, pull the wire up toward the top of the picture at each mark as tightly as possible, pulling one side up with the end of your measuring tape (I should be holding up both sides of the wire in the photo, but I would need three hands to do it). Now you know how far down from the top of the frame your nail should be.

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Once you have the top and side measurements, you will transfer them to the paper square representing that painting. Complete this for all of your paintings and paper squares.

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Now you are ready to hang your paintings---almost. But first, you will hang your paper squares. Recreating the layout you chose earlier, tape your paper "paintings" to the wall, being sure to check distances between each piece and making sure they are level. Once the paper arrangement is hung, drive your nails through the paper at the markings you created. (If you are using picture hooks, be sure the bottom of each hook lines up with the marking.)

Once you have driven all your nails, simply remove the paper, and you are ready to hang your collection!

I hope this has made the idea of hanging a lot of art seem a bit less daunting. It works great for single pieces as well. Good luck!