hanging pictures in a stairway

stairway designsponge hanging pictures in a stairway

{via Design*Sponge}

Friends of mine just moved into a new house over the summer and they’re looking for suggestions about how to hang family photos in their large, open stairway.

stairway livingetc hanging pictures in a stairway

{via LivingEtc}

When displaying any imagery the frames can really set the tone of the collection and the space itself.

  • Want to go casual?  Use different frames all in the same colour.
  • Have a formal space?  Use identical frames hung in an even grid pattern.
  • Looking for eclectic?  Use mismatched frames.
  • Do you like to change the imagery often? Don’t use frames at all.

stairway sladearchitecture hanging pictures in a stairway

{via Slade Architecture}

As far as staircases go you will want to keep images to an appropriate size so that they can be viewed comfortably while standing on the stairs (which usually tends to be close-up) so 8×10′s and 5×7′s are good choices.  Larger items can be hung in landings, at the top or bottom of the stairs, or in the centre if your art wall can be easily viewed from an adjoining room.

stairway freshpalette hanging pictures in a stairway

{via Things That Inspire}

When designing your display I really recommend laying out your pieces on the floor so you can brainstorm different configurations.  It’s a good idea to start with the largest piece and build around it.

stairway missgraciousliving hanging pictures in a stairway

{via Miss Gracious Living}

Try to keep artwork hanging at eye level for easy viewing.  It’s also a good idea to only hang pictures on one side of a stairway to avoid cluttering the space.  Allow the collection to flow upwards by staggering the frames at a similar angle to the staircase itself.

stairway coolphotoideas hanging pictures in a stairway

{via Cool Photo Ideas}

Once I’ve decided on a rough layout I sometimes like to cut out pieces of paper the same size as the framed artwork and hang them in position on the wall with painters tape, this can really give a sense of how the design will look and easily allow for tweaking. Try to keep the spacing between frames even at around 2-3 inches for a more symmetrical grouping.

Do you have any other tips for hanging artwork above stairs?  Share them here!

11 Comments

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8 Comments

  1. LD
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks, this was helpful. It’s not so easy to make it look right.

    • jennifer
      Posted October 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      LD: Have you tried this before? If so, feel free to share your tips here.

  2. beth
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I have an open stairway to the upstairs. I would like to hang one large piece of art work on the wall going up the stairs. I currently have it hung in the middle of the wall, splitting the two levels. It looks to low from the second story and to high from the landing. I do not want to add any other art around this piece and i’m not sure of the proper place to hang it. Eye level from the upstairs view or eye level as you go up the stairs? If you could help me out I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks

    • jennifer
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      without actually seeing the space and based on what you’ve written here i’m tempted to say that the piece should be hung at eye level from the second floor. large pieces are best viewed at a distance rather than right in front of the piece while on the stairs. plus you’ll likely spend more time comfortably viewing the artwork from the second floor rather than while you’re on the steps. which area do you spend the most time, on the stairs or on the second floor?

      perhaps you need to treat the area like two separate spaces; a staircase, and a second floor.

  3. Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Once you’ve done all this work, you’ll want to make sure your arrangement stays straight. I’d recommend placing rubber bumpers or anchor points on the bottom corner of your frames, they will stay straight forever. Guaranteed to survive dusting and a busy household. Love the inspirational pictures you chose.

  4. joyce
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Great tips, just what i was looking for,with displaying art should you have a theme to follow.

  5. Darla Swain
    Posted July 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I have a wall on both sides of my stairs. Which side do I display pics on? One side has a railing, while the other side doesn’t. Can you display on both sides? How should you decide and place pics if using both sides?

    • Jennifer
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      It really depends on the look that you’re going for and your staircase. Hanging pictures on both sides can seem cluttered if it’s a lot of small images, though it could be fun if they’re family photos. I’d be tempted to use the same arrangement on each side (with different images) to get a nice feeling of balance, but I’m all about symmetry over here.

      To really get a sense of how the whole thing is going to feel I strongly recommend hanging a paper template for a week or so to see how you like it. You can find more information about how to do that here: http://www.jennifersquires.ca/blog/choosing-art-sizes/

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