Is hanging pictures a trade (as in a carpenter, plumber or handyman)? Well yes, but only in part. You might say that professionally hanging pictures is 40% a trade and 60% an art.
I concede that there is nothing particularly complicated about hanging a picture on a wall; hook gets nailed in and you hang the picture, right? But beyond this basic action there are many variables. Is the picture hung at the right height (too high or too low), what is the aspect of the image, horizontal or vertical and does that aspect work on the wall where it is to be hung? Is the picture too big, or indeed big enough, for the chosen wall? Is it a print or painting under glass and will that glass be too reflective if it is situated directly across from a window? What if there are other pictures to be hung nearby; will they look good together or will some element (style, framing type, colours, aspect etc.) clash? What about the furniture below or adjacent to the pictures to be hung? Will they complement one another or be some sort of visual distraction?
On many occasions when I visit a client’s home someone has ‘had a go’ at hanging some pictures. Usually it is a well meaning partner or husband (who usually never wanted the responsibility of doing it in the first place!). On one recent occasion I took a picture down to re-position it, only to find about a dozen other nail holes all around the hook where the poor bugger had kept trying to get it just right, but of course never really being sure that he had. Ah, and then there are those who say “we decided to hang our pictures there because that’s where the last people who lived here had the hooks”… oh dear. Most probably the people who lived there last also had hung their pictures in the wrong place (hanging too high is the most common mistake) and now the new owners are taking that persons problem and making it theirs.
Here’s a hot tip. Unless you are hanging something above a tall fireplace mantle or high piece of furniture, you should never have to look up at your pictures or mirrors. You need to be looking into them. Think of it this way. If an artist is creating a painting, he doesn’t set his easel up so high that he can barely touch the top of the painting. Nor does he set it so low that he’d have to bend down to see and work on the centre of the painting. If you hold a picture up on a wall, think of yourself as the artist (regardless of whether it is a painting, print or photograph, the principle is the same). How high would you situate it if you were creating that image? Well that is, more or less, the height at which that picture needs to be hung. Are there any exceptions to that rule? Well, yes there are but that is what an art hanging professional can assist you with.
At the end of the day, it is all about creating a sense of harmony. Paintings, prints, framed family photos, mirrors and even wall sculpture add dimension and balance to a room and (as I often say) transform your house into a home. The pictures that we hang on the walls of our home and office environments are so often a reflection of ourselves. They reflect the things we love, the places we have been, the people we care about, our interests and our passions. Without correctly hanging those pictures, our living or working environments lack completion; lack ourselves.
I recently visited a spectacular multi-million dollar home in outer Melbourne where the client had obviously spent a considerable amount of money decorating. And yet despite the quality of the home, the furniture and furnishings, until we hung her paintings, mirrors and family photos, the place looked like a very expensive display home where nobody lived. I hadn’t said anything about this to the client concerned but upon completion and over a cup of tea, the charming lady confided in me that she had recently spent many, many thousands of dollars on furniture and soft furnishings but my much smaller fee ($650 as I recall) had made more of a difference than everything else combined. I asked her what the difference felt like. She answered simply that she now felt like she was home.