How high do we hang this picture?
November 25, 2011 5:24 PM   Subscribe

How high should this picture be hung above the sofa? This high? Or lower?

Of my husband and me, one of us believes the picture should be hung at the higher position, and the other believes it should be at the lower point. (The horizontal position is something we'll sort out later, so just ignore that).

The picture is a placeholder for now, until we find some more colourful, livelier art that we really like. But that could take a couple of years, so we don't want this picture to look bad in the meantime.

The argument goes as follows:

Person A: Gallery height is 57 inches. Also, you are meant to make the picture look like one grouping with the sofa, not floating near the ceiling. The whole internet agrees with me. And apparently it's a common mistake to hang art too high.

Person B: If it's a "common mistake" that must mean that people's natural instinct is to hang it high. Which means it will look right to more people to hang it high. Also the ceiling is boring, so we want more visual interest closer to the ceiling.

Finally, we polled two of our friends this morning, and they agreed with person B. Also, we first got them to independently position the picture where they would hang it if it was their house, and they chose a position close to the higher one.

A compromise, hanging it in between the two points, makes neither of us happy. Both have agreed to go with whatever the metafilter consensus is.
posted by lollusc to Home & Garden (69 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think hanging it higher is the reflex but it still looks better lower. Like when you walk into someone else's house and see it lower you think, damn I wish I could hang my shit at the right height like that. Lower! That's my vote!
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:28 PM on November 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I vote higher.

[It would be funny if people just favorited a higher comment or a lower comment in order to mimic a poll.]
posted by andoatnp at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by hepta at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Can you group it with other pictures or paintings? The size of the picture is not large enough to carry the space. If not, I vote lower.
posted by studioaudience at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


lower
posted by ghharr at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lower. It looks better lower. It makes the ceiling look higher and the room look bigger. Just make sure there's enough clearance that a tall person won't bang their head on it if they lean back, but not any higher than that.
posted by aabbbiee at 5:39 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it should be between the higher and lower image so that there is an equal amount of wall between the top of the couch/bottom of the picture and the top of the picture/ceiling.
posted by quiet coyote at 5:39 PM on November 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Reference 1) Sit on the sofa and lean your head back against the wall. Mark (with a piece of easily removable tape) the position that is just above the top of the tallest person's head.
Reference 2) Stand up and face the picture. Mark the point at which the bottom edge of the picture would be if the focal point is at exactly eye level.
Determination: Hang the picture so that the bottom edge is at the higher of these two reference points.
posted by Anitanola at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lower! It just looks like a sad, floating island all lost in a sea of white wall when it's up high like that. Person A's "grouping with the sofa" idea is right on. With the art up high, both the sofa and the artwork look lonely. Closer together gives the room more cohesion. And what happens when someone comes over and wants to check out your artwork? Are you going to make them stand on the couch to do that?
posted by kitty teeth at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not thrilled with either position. If it were me, I'd hang it slap-bang in the middle, so the distance from the sofa to the bottom of the pic and the distance from the ceiling to the top of the pic were equal.

On preview, what quiet coyote said.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:41 PM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lower!
posted by danceswithlight at 5:41 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm with person A. Go lower!
posted by grapesaresour at 5:42 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lower, definitely, for almost exactly the reasons kittyteeth gave.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Equal amounts of whitespace above and below the picture — to make a Local Symmetry
posted by Tom-B at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Helpfully, I think that higher is too high and lower is too low in these pictures. I also like quiet coyote's suggestion, but I'd actually go a tiny bit lower than that -- a few cm at most because we don't see distance as it exactly is.
posted by jeather at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


... equal whitespace above and below makes also a visual Thick Boundary around the picture
posted by Tom-B at 5:53 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pictures go at eye level.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:55 PM on November 25, 2011


In between, for symmetry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:56 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that's what you wanna do, bring more attention to the ceiling.

Lower! Even lower than the lower--the top of the piece should hit the golden section between the ceiling and the top edge of the couch, unless people will bang their heads on it there.
posted by bricoleur at 5:56 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


lower.
posted by mumkin at 5:56 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower. If you had more art, you could hang some of it higher to take up the whitespace, but if you just have that one little piece, hang it lower.
posted by decathecting at 6:01 PM on November 25, 2011


Higher.

I want to be able to look at it without bending over.

I don't want to hit my head against it when I sit down on the couch or raise my arms behind me stretching.
posted by fleacircus at 6:17 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by OmieWise at 6:22 PM on November 25, 2011


Here's why I (and pretty much anyone who does this kind of thing for a living) say eye level:

1. It's there to be looked at. People look at things with their eyes. Putting things at eye level puts the art as close to the eyes as possible.
2. Ceiling heights vary. If you had a twelve- or sixteen-foot ceiling, would you still hang the picture half way between the couch and the ceiling? Of course not. The ceiling has no influence at all.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lower. I've heard that artwork should be hung so that the centre of the piece is right eye level. (This doesn't work very well in households where one you is 6'2" and one is 5'3".)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:35 PM on November 25, 2011


It should be equal from the top of the couch and the ceiling.
posted by katypickle at 6:36 PM on November 25, 2011


In the middle.
posted by carter at 6:46 PM on November 25, 2011


If you like the artwork and want it to bloathed at, put it lower. If it's just something to keep the wall from being empty, higher (but still not nearly as high as you have it).
posted by ook at 6:46 PM on November 25, 2011


Hang it so that:

1- If you're sitting across from it, it should be at eye level. You don't want the viewer to have to bend their neck at an odd angle to view it.

2- Or if there is no seating in the room, hang it at average eye level (which is ~60 inches from the floor). A short person has to look just slightly up and a tall person has to look just slightly down.
posted by eatcake at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower. I've been hanging a lot of art recently (new apartment) and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I wish I had hung it lower.

Remember if you don't like it low, you can always move it up and the holes will be hidden. Hang it too high and have to lower it? Now you can see the holes.
posted by magnetsphere at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2011


For "bloathed" read "be looked at".

Weirdest. Typo. Ever.
posted by ook at 6:48 PM on November 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


great word though
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 6:49 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I vote lower. For one thing, in the photo of the higher position, the artwork may seem like it's at eye level because we are using the dude holding it as a reference point, but once you notice that the dude holding the artwork is actually STANDING ON THE COUCH, you realize it's probably much higher than eye level. The lower position would be much closer to floor-standing eye level. Also it totally looks better closer to the couch.
posted by fancyoats at 6:50 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower. Put something in the higher position, too.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:58 PM on November 25, 2011


C: Hang it somewhere else and get something bigger for that space. The narrow frame and line art get lost in all that empty space. You need something with visual weight to balance out that couch and other furniture.

Is that original art? Here is my general approach:
- Hang it someplace that you can see and appreciate it daily. You bought it for a reason, right?
- Don't rule out the kitchen or bathroom, but do consider environmental factors if it is expensive or irreplaceable.
- Put it someplace other people can stand in front of it and really check it out. Having a couch in the way prevents this, or at least makes it awkward.

That piece would look great on a non-white wall where the white background would make the line art a focal point.
posted by Max Camber at 7:02 PM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lower, absolutely. (Ultimately, you may want to use a larger pic or group a smaller pic with others.)
posted by moira at 7:02 PM on November 25, 2011


I'm shooting low.
posted by gypseefire at 7:07 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2011


60" on center is a good starting spot for hanging artwork. However, you have to look at the surroundings and how the piece works with the space. For a single piece of artwork like you've shown -- lower. In fact, I'd go a bit lower than you've shown.
posted by amanda at 7:13 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower. Apologies to Person A, but hanging it way up there looks like crazytown. Hang it so the bottom edge isn't a pain to anyone sitting on the couch. Later, when you buy bigger art that will fill that space better, keep the same bottom edge line, more or less, and it will still look right. I think the thing causing your problems now is the art is too small for the space, so neither high nor low looks quite correct.
posted by donnagirl at 7:13 PM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Looking at the images again, what's that black line on the left edge of the "higher" image? A window, some other framed art? If it's something that isn't going to move, I would actually make sure that the top edge of the picture is lower than whatever that is.
posted by donnagirl at 7:19 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower, for the reasons adduced by Person A. As for Person B's reasoning: you don't want to "add visual interest" to the ceiling, you want to keep the eye moving around the room at human level. The ceiling is supposed to be boring.
posted by Orinda at 7:32 PM on November 25, 2011


2nding Max Camber ^.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:33 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower, but yeah, Max Camber is right.
posted by janell at 7:55 PM on November 25, 2011


Typically artwork is hung so that the middle is at eye-level to an average person (so the middle would be around 5'). It can be adjusted for the height of the back of your couch to leave 5-9" of free space between the couch and art.
posted by JaneL at 7:56 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower. (Also, I don't understand how person B can take "it's a common mistake to hang it high" and use the word "common" to deduce from it "we should hang it high.")
posted by dfan at 8:30 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:34 PM on November 25, 2011


You want it eye level, though if the back of the couch has a low back it's going to look too high in relation to the couch if you set it at that height. I'd say you're looking for balance between those two objects since no one (except for weirdos like me) look at the ceiling.

Max Camber has a point about the frame size, but it also looks like you're trying to center it on the wall, ignoring the other furniture, which looks all wrong to me. Maybe because the frame is so small?
posted by squeak at 8:43 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by hamandcheese at 9:08 PM on November 25, 2011


but eye level for whom? my boyfriend is almost 10 inches taller than me. he always wants to hang things near the ceiling
posted by gt2 at 9:26 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower
posted by murrey at 9:26 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower
posted by LeanGreen at 9:40 PM on November 25, 2011


Another vote for eye level for the average person.
posted by ctmf at 9:41 PM on November 25, 2011


You outed yourself as Person A, but I still agree with you: lower.
posted by contraption at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lower
posted by tamitang at 10:31 PM on November 25, 2011


Lower.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:37 PM on November 25, 2011


Dammit, did I really out myself as A? I even got my husband to read through the question and see if it was non-leading, and he was happy with it.

Still, it seems like a pretty strong consensus (46 vote for low, and 2 votes for high, with 14 votes for something else.)

My husband says, "Yeah, but why is it that our real-life friends agree with me, then?" (I still don't know about this but I was pretty blown away when they all agreed on the higher position this morning).

I agree that the picture is not right for the space - but it is an enormous space, and we have been looking for the right thing for six months now, and have finally decided to put SOMETHING there until we do find something. This picture will eventually live over the headboard of the bed when we do find something for the lounge.

For some reason, the picture doesn't look as tiny in real life as it does in the picture, either - it's actually quite a large picture: over a metre long. It's just that the sofa is enormous, so needs something even bigger to balance it. Still, I'd rather have this on the wall there than nothing for the time being.

The line in the left of one of the pictures is a wall hanging, and one of the people this morning said that this should be hung higher than that. But that would put it even higher than my husband is holding it in the photo.
posted by lollusc at 10:51 PM on November 25, 2011


You want it to be easily viewable, but you also want it positioned with a logical relationship between the couch and the ceiling. Centered is not necessarily the best option.

It looks like if you put it just a little higher than your where husband is holding the frame in the 'low' version, there will be about half as much space between the frame and the couch as between the top of the frame and the ceiling, and space between the couch and frame will be about the same as height of the frame.

I'd suggest cutting out a piece of cardboard the size of the frame, and lightly taping it to the wall. That way you can both stand back and look at it and see how you think it looks in the room in various positions without actually hanging it or marking up the wall. Move it up or down a little when you get it almost right, then mark it when you hit the sweet spot.

Trust your intuition about what looks right. You can tell if it looks off. Doing it this way will allow you fiddle with it till you get it where it looks right.
posted by nangar at 10:56 PM on November 25, 2011


It definitely needs to be lower.
posted by whatideserve at 11:22 PM on November 25, 2011


Just to say: great question. And: nthing Max Camber.

Also:
Metafilter: Lower.
Metafilter: Higher.

posted by progosk at 12:19 AM on November 26, 2011


Split the difference. Not between the couch and ceiling, between the low and the high. Everybody's happy and nobody is.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 1:10 AM on November 26, 2011


Negotiate and do it in the middle.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:54 AM on November 26, 2011


I think you should definitely consider nangar's advice. Hanging art is, in itself, and art, and automatically centering artwork or using arbitrary rules like "Gallery height is 57 inches" (not always the case) is counterproductive in domestic settings.

What's important is the space and the work's relation to it, and I personally think that splitting the difference somewhere between the two options you've presented is best - but really this piece (as you've admitted) is just not big enough to hold the space. All that white!

I know you're holding out for a bigger piece that you really love and that this is just a stop-gap, but what about a salon hang? Hanging three or four smaller works around this one will help give some visual weight that counterbalances the heavy couch, which is what's competing for my eye here.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide!
posted by Chichibio at 5:45 AM on November 26, 2011


Lower. I say that as someone who invariably hangs them too high, notices later that they look weird, and then have to rehang them lower and fill the higher hole.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 6:58 AM on November 26, 2011


Draw a (imaginary) line 8 feet up from the floor, and then hang the picture centered between that line and the top of the couch. If 8 feet would be higher than the ceiling, then center it between the bottom of the crown molding and the top of the couch.
posted by gjc at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2011


Another vote for lower. And please ask this question again with the handy pics when you do find a piece that balances the couch. We're invested now!
posted by Jezebella at 7:35 AM on November 26, 2011


Neither. It's way too small for the space. It's lost on that big white wall.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:51 AM on November 26, 2011


In between the 2. But if it has to be one or the other lower, or add more or a bigger picture.
posted by wwax at 1:50 PM on November 26, 2011


I know you're holding out for a bigger piece that you really love and that this is just a stop-gap, but what about a salon hang?

That would have been my choice too, but my husband doesn't like the way that looks. Also, we don't actually have any other art yet :) That's what comes of moving house every year for the past 15, and also of previously being renters in a city where that generally means you don't have permission to hang pictures.

But now that I have a chance to buy things, I don't want to go out and buy stuff that's okay but that I don't LOVE. I'd rather buy one thing every year or so for the next 20 until my house is full of beautiful pieces.
posted by lollusc at 8:07 PM on November 26, 2011


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