How to Frame and Hang Anything (Without Ruining Your Walls)

Everything you need to know about framing, before breaking out the hammer and nails. 

How to Frame and Hang Anything (Without Ruining Your Walls)
Melanie Acevedo

"The art will steer you to the right frame if you let it," write Maxewell Ryan and Janel Laban in their new decorating guidebook Apartment Therapy: Complete + Happy Home, out this Tuesday. "Choose a style and color that complements the piece and its surroundings." It's simple and true advice for a process that can seem far from intuitive, especially for first-timers and DIYers. Luckily, they've broken down all the details on how to select the best frame and mat for your art and how to hang it like a pro when you're done. Checkout the excerpt below for their sage wisdom, and pick up the book for many more decorating insights.

Picking a frame

As a general rule, use a thick frame for large art and a thin frame for small art. The variety of styles (both store-bought and custom) is huge, but most fall into these categories: modern Sleek metal or wood frames—usually with a thin profile—and a white mat; great with high-contrast art. transitional Understated frames (with little ornamentation) and a neutral mat. Complements most styles of art. traditional Typically more ornate, with a wider profile. 

Often warm wood or brass, this style works well with representational (versus abstract) art.

Picking a Mat

As art gets larger, so should the width of your mat. This allows your artwork room to “breathe” and be noticed. In most instances, when it comes to color, choose a mat that’s lighter than the art but darker than the wall it hangs on. Neutrals are best, so when in doubt, stick with white or off-white.

Frame Alternatives

If spending loads of cash on framing isn’t in the budget, get creative. You can use washi tape to casually stick prints to the wall (opposite). It’s delicate enough to be pulled off without damaging your art. Or try covering your art with a sheet of clear acrylic and securing it in place with four L-hooks (also known as square-bend hooks). The result is minimalist and chic (and cheap!).

How to Frame and Hang Anything (Without Ruining Your Walls)
Melanie Acevedo

How’s it Hanging?

Save your walls from being riddled with holes; check out this guide to hanging art before breaking out the hammer and nails.

1. Don’t hang it too high. Most galleries hang art 57 to 60 inches on center (that’s the measurement from the floor to the center of the piece of art). With groupings, think of the collective as one big element, and apply the same principle.

2. Adjust for seating. In dining rooms or offices, where people are primarily seated, it makes sense to lower art slightly to about 48 inches.

3.  Allow for headroom. When mounting over furniture, keep 3 to 6 inches of wall space above a sofa or headboard; 4 to 8 inches above a table. This is close enough to keep the two elements visually connected but far enough that you won’t bang your head when sitting and standing.

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