How to Hang Pictures Gallery Style: Tips and Layouts for Hanging Picture Collections

Are you stressing about hanging your collection of family photos or special artwork because you’re afraid to make a mess of your walls trying to find the right place for the picture hanging hooks?

Are you wondering how to arrange your pictures so they look as nice as the collections in decor magazines and galleries but you don’t know where to begin?

Whether you have limited wall space in a small home or condo, or you just love the ‘salon’ look of a wall filled with art or black and white photos, hanging a collection of pictures can be a stunning and personal addition to your decor. Here’s where to begin:

Tips for Creating a Pleasing Arrangement

Your first step is to decide if you want a grid layout or something more organic and free flowing.

Grid layouts are very straight and work well when the collection is multiples of the same size frame. Whether you’re hanging them in a group or a row, each frame edge will line up with the frame next to it.

Gallery style collections are less rigid and work well with various size artwork and frames. They tend to radiate from a central piece (usually the largest or boldest). These collections can be added to as they are not in a systematic grid, however, you should lay your first group of artwork or photos out on the floor or a table so you can shift pieces around until you find a pleasing arrangement.

Try to balance color or size as you create your grouping, placing larger items or similar colors at equal distances from the central piece and filling the in-between spaces with smaller or more muted pieces.

How Much Space Between Pictures?

The space between pictures is relative to the size of the artwork and the wall it’s on; however, an average of 2-4 inches usually looks best. Closer than that can look cramped and farther apart can make the artwork look unconnected from each other. Small artwork can be hung with less space while large artwork may be farther apart.

How to Hang Pictures Gallery Style
How to Hang Pictures Gallery Style image by Janette Yost Crawford

Where Do You Begin?

Always start with the central piece. Whether you are hanging pictures in a grid or looser arrangement the largest or boldest piece should be the first piece hung. Look for a height of about 66 inches from the floor for this piece, or have the middle of the picture about 60”, or eye level.

Working from Your Central Point

If you are making a more organic arrangement you can place each frame on a piece of paper and make templates. After making your arrangement on the floor, take the templates and tape these to the wall so you can adjust, then find your hanging points and make your holes before removing the templates.

If you are adding small pieces to an arrangement, just hold the item up in context to the others, mark the wall above the frame and measure down for your nail placement.

Hanging gallery style
Hanging gallery style

How to Hang in a Grid

A grid arrangement is more technical as each edge will line up precisely with the picture beside it. Remember that even multiples of the same frame may not have their hanging devices in the exact same location.

Find your center point on the width of your wall and place your first nail at the desired height. Measure the width of your central frame and divide it in half, add the spacing between frames and add another HALF frame measurement for the second picture. This will give you your distance from one nail to another.

You can use a level to ascertain if the marks are lined up, and adjust the height if the hanging devices differ in placement on the backs of the frames. Measure all frames carefully and write down your measurements in advance. If you are working with identical frames this will be easier for you.

When working with several rows, measure up or down from the first row the spacing distance, mark on the wall, measure up OR down to the hanging device depending on whether you’re hanging above or below the first row, and repeat the nail placement technique listed above.

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