This 'Golden Rule' for Hanging Wall Art Will Result in a Perfectly Placed Picture for a More Balanced Look

If you want to hang perfectly placed wall art every time, this hack will save you so much time

a living room with a gallery wall
(Image credit: Ana Paula Carlvaho. Design: Joana Arnaha)

Even if you're the most restrained minimalist out there, no room is complete without some wall art. While bare walls do have their place, a framed print, photograph, or painted canvas can create a wonderful focal point to tie a room together. 

The problem arises, however, when you have to decide precisely where to hang said art. Whether you're decorating the space above the sofa for some stylish living room wall art or adding a curated gallery wall to a hallway, the perfect spot might seem obvious. That's until you actually add your picture hook and hang your chosen artwork, only for it to look off-balance at the wrong height. 

You can spend hours measuring the perfect center point or tracing your collection of prints for the perfect arrangement, but we'd all just like a quick-fix solution that promises perfect results. Enter - the 57-inch picture hanging hack, a simple rule to live by that guarantees perfectly placed wall art every time. Here's what you need to know.

What is the 57-inch rule?

Neutral living room with beige sofa and gallery wall

(Image credit: Chris Snook. Design by Laura Stephens)

When it comes to how to hang a picture, the 57-inch rule is considered the golden rule by professionals. Put simply, the idea is to have the center of the photo at 57 inches from the floor to reflect the standard eye height of the average person, and it's the standard principle followed by art galleries and museums.

'Hanging prints on walls can often feel like guesswork,' says Annica Wallin, Executive Creative Director at wall art brand, Desenio. 'Applying the "57-inch rule" is an excellent standard to follow when positioning wall art, as it’s commonly known as the most accurate height for hanging prints from the floor.'

So, how do you perfect this picture-hanging technique? 'Simply measure 57 inches from the floor and make a mark on the wall in the center of where the

frame will be positioned,' explains Annica. 'This doesn’t fit for every room and every print, however, you can change the height by a couple of inches either way, based on the wall dimensions.' Of course, you'll need to factor in where exactly the hook is on the back of your frame or canvas if you want to be extra precise. To do this, be sure the measure how far the hook lies from the center, and adjust your marking on the wall as necessary. 

If you want to embrace a whole host of wall art trends with multiple prints on one wall, choose a primary picture to base the rest of your collection around. Follow the 57-inch rule and build around it, clustering smaller artworks around the outside for a balanced feel. 

Why does the 57 inch rule work so well? 

living room with tiled wall and fireplace and beige sofas

(Image credit: Onward Group. CoCollect. Artist: William Quinn)

As mentioned, the idea behind this hack is that the piece of artwork hangs at eye level. It will also put the perfect amount of space between the ceiling, the floor, and any surrounding furniture, according to experts. 

'There are some exceptions to this rule, however, such as when arranging a gallery wall, notes Annica. 'A great way to begin a gallery wall is by selecting a print to hang using the 57-inch rule, as a central focal point of the feature wall, and then build outwards.'

Annica says that thinking of the gallery wall as one large picture can help you envisage each piece as part of a whole, which helps to ensure all of the images work well together. 'Including a range of sizes will help to make the wall more visually appealing,' she adds. 

That's all there is to it! With a tape measure, a sharp eye, and a beautiful piece of artwork, you'll have added a beautiful focal point to your wall for the perfect finishing touch. 

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Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.