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.


{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.


{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.


{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.


{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.


{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!

15 thoughts on “hanging pictures in a stairway

  1. beth says:

    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 says:

      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.

  2. DecoExpert says:

    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.

  3. Darla Swain says:

    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 says:

      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: https://www.jennifersquires.ca/blog/choosing-art-sizes/

  4. Michael says:

    I’ve got a similar dilemma as one of the others. I have a long staircase (22 steps) and have 14 equal sized and equal themed prints to hang. The question: both sides or one side. They’re approx. 2 1/2′ x 1 1/2′ and pretty simple pictures. Thanks for your expertise. M

  5. Ann says:

    Our main floor is elevated and has a railing overlooking an open carpeted staircase, which leads to our basement. The wall facing the 40″ high railing is 9 feet high by 10 feet wide with a 4″ ledge on the bottom of that part of the wall. The wall then continues from the ledge down to the bottom of the stairs. I have a picture that is 32″ X 32″ square that I would like to hang on the upper part of the wall above the ledge. The 4″ ledge is level with the main floor. What height should I hang this picture or would you suggest choosing a different size picture for that wall, however I do like this picture very much.
    Thank you in advance Jennifer for any suggestions you have.

  6. Kerry says:

    Hi. I have a staircase with walls on each side. I want to hang one big painting on the one side. The other side has a light on it. So it seems that is a no no from what I am reading. What you think? Can I hang one large painting? Where do I hang it? Eye level? Thanks.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Kerry, I’m one to follow my heart and not rules. Do you already have the nice big painting? Try hanging it up to see how you like it. The way I see it, the worst that’s going to happen is you’ll have an extra hole in the wall.

      Height can be a bit more difficult and that’s when taping up a large piece of paper the same size as the painting is a good idea. There really isn’t any “eye level” in a staircase because of the slope, I’d hang it reasonably low so you’re not craning your neck to get a good look at it, but not so low that it’s crowding the railing. Experiment and see what feels best for your particular spot.

  7. Lori says:

    Hi Jennifer- Our home has an open U-shaped staircase in the living room, which leads to our finished basement. The landing half way down features an 18x 7” foot wall. We have lived here for 15 years, and it is still blank. I haven’t known what to hang there or where. I recently came across 6 large prints I think I would like to hang in a grid. I’m just not sure what size prints I should buy and if I should hang them so they can be clearly viewed from the main floor, or lower, so they feel a natural height when I’m standing on the landing. Can you please advise me on this? Thank you!

    • Jennifer says:

      Size-wise I’d probably start with having the full gallery wall about 60-80% the width of the wall (so maybe 10-14 feet wide?), and just let the height be whatever it turns out to be.

      I’d get out some low tack painter’s tape and make a nice big rectangle on the wall for some of the different sizes, just to see how it will look. And I’d live with it for a few days to see how I like it.

      Height-wise, I’d be tempted to hang it so the centre of the gallery wall is around eye level when standing on the landing. But experiment to see what you like in your space.

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