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How to Arrange Pictures on a Wall

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Are you tired of staring at those blank walls? It's time to put some of your artwork and photos to good use. Nothing warms up a room like tastefully decorated walls. But where do you start?

Plan your arrangement before hanging wall art.

Plan your arrangement before hanging wall art.

Many of us are completely stumped when it comes to determining how to hang wall art. If you have a number of small prints and photos, creating just the right groupings can be a nightmare if you don’t do some advanced planning. Coming up with visually pleasing arrangements beforehand is the key to creating artful, interesting wall displays

Here are some proven techniques for decorating your walls with pictures. These ideas will surely get your decorating juices flowing.

Symmetrical Placement

Symmetry and balance are preferable to most people. This type of art placement is ideal for a collection of images that are similar in size, color or subject matter. To accomplish this arrangement, space your pictures at equal intervals along and adjacent to a center point.

Symmetrical picture arrangements are pleasing to the eye.

Symmetrical picture arrangements are pleasing to the eye.

If you have a group of pictures identical in size and subject matter, such as botanical prints, consider using a symmetrical grid pattern to create a dramatic display. A collection of multiple framed pictures have the same impact as a single oversize image. Get out your level, pencil and tape measure and plot out your gallery wall.

Asymmetrical Arrangement

For those of us who balk at classic arrangements, think about opting for an asymmetrical arrangement of pictures. Begin by picking out your favorite photos and prints. Use images of any size, shape, color and subject matter for a funky asymmetrical arrangement.

Asymmetrical picture arrangements look spontaneous.

Asymmetrical picture arrangements look spontaneous.

Although this type of picture arrangement looks totally spontaneous, it does take a bit of careful thought to create order out of chaos. Don't forget to hang your pictures in a way that balances visual weight vertically and horizontally.

You could use a trial and error approach, but you run the risk of making unnecessary holes in the wall. Play it safe by arranging your pictures on the floor and making any adjustments before transferring the grouping onto the wall.

Stairway Montage

Even though you travel up and down the stairs multiple times during the course of a day, stairway walls are often overlooked when it comes to hanging art. In some homes, a staircase is the focal point of a room, or at least visible to adjacent areas. Don’t let this potential artistic expanse go to waste. Take advantage of all your online photos and prints to create a family photo gallery.

As with any asymmetrical arrangement, a stair step display requires some planning and rough measurements. Create a straight line (with a string and 2 push pins), following the angle of your stairs. Use this line to arrange the first “row” of pictures. This row should contain pictures that carry the most visual weight. It's best to use a variety of picture sizes. Just make sure the line runs diagonally (or as close to it), through each picture.

Continue by hanging additional pictures above and below the first row, making sure they follow the rise of the stairs. Maintain consistent spacing between the pictures–both horizontally and vertically.

Shelf and Ledge Picture Display

Shelves make it easy to display and rotate artwork. Get a friend to help install floating shelves or specially designed picture ledges to display your favorite images. Simply change them out and rearrange them to suit your decorating whims.

Photo ledges allow you to easily move and rotate artwork.

Photo ledges allow you to easily move and rotate artwork.

Mix and match picture sizes, frame styles and mats. Just lean your pictures up against the wall, stand back and admire your mad decorating skills. You can wrap the shelves along an inside corner to create a picture nook or install two or three levels of shelves to create an entire wall display.

To keep your artwork in place, use tiny bits of double-sided picture tape to secure them in place. Another option is to purchase actual picture ledges that feature a raised edge along the front to keep pictures from slipping.

Unified Grouping

Like symmetrical arrangements, unified groupings of pictures appeal to a sense organization and cohesiveness. A unified grouping works equally well in casual or formal rooms. Here’s a great example: unify a collection of black-and-white prints with matching mats and identical frames.

Unified groupings are best with similar images, colors and frames.

Unified groupings are best with similar images, colors and frames.

The pictures themselves don’t necessarily have to be the same size. Utilizing similar image colors, mats and frames will unite the group. Include other types of wall decor that pick up the black-and-white theme. You can use any one of the above mentioned techniques to display your unified grouping.

Great Picture Hanging Tips!

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 05, 2015:

So glad you liked these ideas, KatySte! Hope you can incorporate them into your home. Thank you for reading this Hub and leaving a comment!

KatySte on May 05, 2015:

Very informative, fun ideas thanks !

I like the idea of putting up all the old artwork of my little brother. I will certainly have to look into how I can incorporate this more.

Me and my roommate have found this decoration quite nice for our room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mADpeOBvpTg

its basicly for free and it gives the room a better vibe.

very useful thanks again!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 23, 2012:

HouseBuyersUS, enjoy these guidelines and have a good time decorating your walls!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 13, 2012:

Yea! I am happy you found this Hub as well! Looks like you have your Saturday projects planned. Have a great weekend! Thanks for the comment and votes!

xcubist on July 13, 2012:

So nice to have stumbled on this, looks like I know how I can help the wife out with all those leftover scrap booking and kids school pictures this weekend. Asymmetrical and unified groupings are in order for a couple of our walls tomorrow. Voted up and useful!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 13, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, Buyers Guide! And thanks as well for the vote and share. You are welcome!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 07, 2012:

Simone, I have always loved decking the walls with pictures! Right now I have few walls and many pictures (most of which are in storage). Soon it will be time to move into a place with big, expansive walls -- and a stairway so I can go crazy with artwork! Thanks for the comment and complement!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 07, 2012:

What fun ideas! I love houses that have stairway montages- they're so much fun to gaze at while transitioning from one floor to another. I'm also big on asymmetrical picture display- it's a fun way to interrupt all the straight lines and right angles in a room.

Fabulous Hub!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 07, 2012:

Thanks, Robert! And here's a tip I forget to mention in the Hub: always remember to hang your art at eye level. Sounds like you're going to be busy with repairs and decorating for a while! Have fun with it!

Robert Erich from California on June 07, 2012:

This is an AWESOME article. I have seen people use pictures and simple designs to decorate walls before and they look great. I will certainly have to look into how I can incorporate this more. Thanks for this fantastic hub.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 06, 2012:

Om, happy to help! I think a unified grouping would be a great way to showcase your watercolor paintings!

Om Paramapoonya on June 06, 2012:

I like the unified grouping idea! I have a little collection of water-color paintings. I think I might frame three or four of them, and hang them up in my office. Thanks for the inspiration, lindacee!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 06, 2012:

Thanks teaches! Yes, the stairs can present problems, but using the layout technique I mentioned should make the job much easier! I'm glad you stopped by to read and comment!

Dianna Mendez on June 05, 2012:

I am thinking of hanging some pictures above my stairs this summer. You idea to tape out a pattern will work for me in getting just the right look. Thanks for posting this one.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2012:

Tillsontitan, picture walls can be a bit intimidating. You have to let me know how it turns out. I do so appreciate your comment and votes. Thanks!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2012:

greeneryday, glad I could provide some inspiration today. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2012:

Thanks so much for reading my Hub Riverfish! I too love pictures on the walls -- I have so many, it's easy for me to get carried away. I have become more selective and manage not to fill up all the available wall space! I've got to order a Sure Grip for picture hanging tasks just like you mentioned. It's not easy to get them lined up.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2012:

@Spartucus, thanks for the nice feedback! I'm trying to incorporate more in the way of visual aids. Don't know that I'll ever get to the point of doing my own instructional videos, however. Glad you enjoyed!

Mary Craig from New York on June 05, 2012:

I thought I commented on this hub but don't see my comment here. This is a very useful hub, especially for me. I've been trying to decide how to arrange a picture wall and you've given some really good information. Voted up, useful and interesting.

greeneryday from Some tropical country on June 05, 2012:

Informative hub, and inspiring. I am thinking of decorating my room's wall with base after reading this hub.

Riverfish24 from United States on June 05, 2012:

Lovely Hub Lindacee, I simply love pictures and have them all over my home. You have provided very helpful tips and I plan to make use of the Asymmetrical one. We also used the 'sure grip' for placing our papyrus frames one below the other diaginally, it was very helpful to have that laser measuring tool.

CJ Baker from Parts Unknown on June 05, 2012:

Very practical and informative hub. Good use of visual aids as well. As someone who is a bit challenge when it comes to home décor, I found this hub to be quite useful.