How to Display Picture Frames on a Wall

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Hanging pictures correctly is an art. You have to take into account the size of the wall, the size of the pictures, the shape of the frames and their color, plus the matting. It's best to start with a clean slate when creating a photo gallery -- this avoids a wall that looks like a mish-mash of family photos. Hang your pictures like they do in a museum and your room will look like you hired a professional picture hanger.

Select the Photos

There has to be unity in the display you're creating. Lay on the floor all the photographs under consideration. Separate them into subjects such as family, a vacation or landscapes. Keep to one theme. You may want to turn color photos into black and white or even sepia prints if the theme warrants. Photographs of family members take on a special patina when they're sepia, and cityscapes are dynamic in black and white.

Wall Space

Measure the wall space the photos are going to occupy. You don't want a soaring ceiling and wide expanse with a photo display that seems lost. There has to be a correlation between the college and the wall, and proportion and balance drive that correlation. If the photos are hung above the sofa, measure that space before you shop for frames and account for the 3-to-6-inch space above the top of the sofa that you need. The entire display should be no wider than the sofa, and preferably shorter on each side.

Picture Frames

The unity with the picture frames is in the color or the shape of the frame. Gold frames of varying designs are just as pleasing as a variety of lacquer frames in multiple colors that are all the same size or shape. You can even throw in a frame visually outside your selection, creating a focal point.

Choosing the Matting

Matting is where your display comes together. It should be the same for the majority of your pictures. One deviant draws attention and creates an edge to a collection. Sepia prints matted in cream or mocha are attractive without infringing on the power of the print. Black-and-white prints are snappy when matted in white. A black matting on one or two of the pictures adds interest. The attraction of color pictures is in the color of the subject. Do not distract from that by adding more color through the matting. Choose one or two colors that highlight the entire collection.

Hanging the Pictures

The last and most complex part of displaying pictures on a wall is the actual hanging. You need:

  • Hammer

  • Picture hooks

  • Yardstick or measuring tape

  • Laser level

  • Pencil and eraser

The main principal of picture hanging is the grouping must have a center line. Use a laser level to verify the line is straight. Draw a straight line very lightly across the wall space at the height you want the pictures to be displayed. If you're hanging them straight across, center each picture on the line. It doesn't matter if one frame is higher than the other; the center line grounds them and a unified string of pictures is created.

Measure the distance between the picture wire or hook and the top of the frame. If you have several different types of picture hangers on the back of your photographs, knowing the distance when the wire is drawn taut to where the picture hook should be helps when spacing the photos. Hang each picture so its center is on the center line.

When making a college of pictures, you need horizontal and vertical center lines. If you have an odd number of pictures, choose the largest as the focal point and build around it. Space each photograph a minimum of 2 inches above and to the side of its neighboring print. Build from the center out, hanging landscape and portrait frames within the pattern.

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