When you can't live without your super-sized Union Jack on display, the semaphore pennant from your yachty youth is pure beach house magic, or you just love the Stars and Stripes in that celebratory red-white-and-blue, know your protocol, gather your hooks, dowels and twine, and pick a wall where the flag won't be faded by direct sun or tugged at by constant breezes that could unmoor it from its perch.
Old Glory Decorum
Go ahead and hang the U.S. flag in your rustic dining room, but observe proper protocol to avoid disrespect for an eminent symbol. These protocols hold for reproduction antique flags as well as current 50-star versions:
- The flag must always be hung with the "union," the area with the stars, at the top -- on the flag's right side and to a viewer's left -- whether you hang it vertically or horizontally.
- If it shares space with other flags of states or localities, the U.S. flag must have the highest, center place of honor and be the same size or larger than the other banners.
If the flag will be behind a speaker at an event -- and you must use striped bunting, not a flag, to decorate the podium or head table -- it's best to place it to the speaker's right so it is not partly hidden from view, or center the flag behind the speaker on the wall, higher than her head.
String semaphore or yacht pennants on hemp, twine or monofilament, poking the string through the "sleeve" made for a dowel or a rope, and loop the ends of the string over pushpins, nails or hooks on the wall. Stretch a raft of them over an entire wall above a sofa; loop them in lazy curves over the crib in the nursery; or display them across a protected porch on an outside wall, well under the eaves.
Nautical flags and pennants are a jaunty touch for beach house decor, but they'll liven up a kids' room, too, with navy and white sailing decor and touches of red trim or a color that picks up a shade in the flags.
The Republic of California
Hanging a state flag takes a keen eye for direction. For example, hanging a California flag on the wall takes cord or a display rod and some creativity. The "Bear Flag" depicts a California grizzly bear walking on a hillock of grass toward the left side of the flag, as you face it. Under the bear are the words "California Republic," a reminder of the state's colorful history. The horizontal display shows the bear upright and the words properly legible but a vertical display will put that grizzly on an incline, having him climbing skyward with the legend on the flag's right, the viewer's left.
One way to safely hang a vertical state flag is to thread rope through the grommets designed to attach the flag to the hoist for a flagpole and wind that rope around a dowel or hanging rod horizontally mounted on the wall. The flag will hang from its tape, which is a reinforced edge of the fabric.
Travel and sport souvenir flags may be simply mounted on mat board in a frame and hung on a wall -- or just thumb-tacked to a wall or a cork board. There's a tiny trick to the thumb-tack method, however:
- Remove any display sticks provided for waving the flag.
- Use thumb tacks with wide tops and position them using a carpenter's level if the flags should be even on the wall or board.
- Hold the flag up to marks that designate where the corners will go and push a thumbtack in each corner, catching the edge of the flag only with the rim of the tack, not its sharp, pointed tip.
- The flat top of the tack holds the material to the wall without making a hole in the fabric.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .