What's the Best Height to Hang a Picture Over a Sofa?

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Hanging paintings or family pictures above couches makes them an undeniable focal point. Your eye will immediately be drawn to those pictures every time you walk into the room, and you'll always be bothered if they don't look quite right.

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If you want your living room to look like it was decorated by a professional, you need to follow the principles that decorators use when placing artwork on walls. Step one is choosing the right-size artwork to hang over a couch, while step two is about hanging the artwork so everything looks balanced and pleasing to the eye. Here's what else to know about the fine art of hanging artwork over a sofa.

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How High to Hang a Painting Over a Couch

Often, decorators and art galleries use the 57 rule when calculating the height for hanging artwork, which means the work should be hung so the middle of the picture is 57 inches above the floor. Sometimes, people use 58 or 60 inches above the floor as the target for the midpoint of artwork hung on a wall. The idea behind the 57 rule is that hanging a picture at that height makes it eye level for most people.

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However, the rules are different when you're hanging art above a sofa or another piece of furniture. In this case, the distance between the bottom edge of the artwork and the top of the furniture matters more than the distance between the art and the floor. The general rule of thumb is to hang artwork so it sits 4 to 8 inches above the top of the couch, though some designers advise leaving a gap of 8 to 10 inches.

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So how high should your art be hung — just 4 inches above the couch or closer to 10? Before using a picture-hanging kit to make any holes in the wall, sit on the couch and measure where your head would hit the wall if you leaned back. If you have a low sofa (and/or a family of tall people), hanging the artwork closer to 10 inches above the couch may be a good idea so people don't bump their heads when they sit down. As you think about how high you want to place your art, you may also use painter's tape to create a temporary outline on the wall so you can imagine how it will look when it's up.

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Do You Center a Picture Over the Couch or on the Wall?

Always center a picture over the couch rather than centering it on the wall. Also, keep in mind the two-thirds rule: The art you hang over a sofa or other furniture should be no more than two-thirds the width of the furniture itself. Both of these tips are important for creating good visual balance.

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Does Ceiling Height Matter?

Even if you live in a home with vaulted ceilings, hang your artwork relative to the couch. It'll look strange if you hang a picture higher than eye level in an attempt to balance tall ceilings. In other words, figuring out how high to hang a picture with 9-foot ceilings isn't any different than figuring out how high to hang a picture in a room with 12-foot ceilings.

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Rules for Hanging Pictures in Groups

Maybe you want to create a gallery wall to display multiple family photos or to bring more color and texture into the room. The standard rule for hanging photos in groups is to maintain a consistent distance between pieces, even if the artworks themselves are of different sizes. Leave 2 to 3 inches between pieces.

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