Trying to create the perfect gallery wall in your living room? Put away the stepladder. You’re not going to need it.

By Alicia Brunker
Updated February 09, 2018
Woman in red dress hanging piece of art
Credit: Streetangel/Getty Images

This may shock you, but when it comes to hanging art, the height of your ceiling doesn’t matter. Nor does the size of your frame, the function of the room, or even whether your art is your kid’s best macaroni collage or a prized piece from a local artist. Yes, we're serious!

The only thing that matters is your height—and the height of most people who will be looking at the piece.

“Rather than considering the architecture of the room, consider who will be viewing the art, first and foremost,” says Kentucky-based abstract artist Alex Mason. “To really appreciate artwork, the middle of the painting should hit eye level.”

Even for oversize pieces, this rule of thumb holds true. “If the piece is significant, your eye should hit the bottom quarter,” Mason says.

Now, if you’re especially tall or especially short, deduct a few or add a few inches to approximate average “eye level.” If you’re shorter than average, go ahead and add on a couple of inches, while subtracting a few notches for taller folks will do the trick.

There is a time to consider the architecture of the room, of course—and that’s when deciding how many pieces to hang. According to Mason, a large piece of art on a small wall can look great, but the opposite (a small piece on a large expanse of wall) makes the room look off balance. If you do have a small piece you love, she suggests creating a gallery wall by clustering small-scale pieces in either a stacked grouping or diagonal formation.

To really help your piece stand out in the room, add a spotlight. “It’s why people instantly connect with artwork displayed in museums,” explains Mason. You chose this gorgeous piece; now let others see why it’s so special.