“Hanging” Out With My Husband

By: Helene Rightor

Eye Level. That’s it. Nothing too hard about it… eye level. That is the rule. However, every time my husband and I are hanging anything on a wall in our house, this simple rule seems to escape our brains and inevitably we either hang it too high or end up getting into an argument about the number of attempts it’s taking to get it right. We ultimately end up with mixed feelings and unnecessary holes in the wall.

What is it that makes hanging pictures so hard? Well, come to find out, there are many factors. Starting with the fact that unless you have special equipment or special super-powers, it takes two people to achieve this task. Someone needs to provide the hands, and the other person, the eyes. This presents the first set of problems; there are two different eye levels, and if you’re anything like my husband and me, two different opinions. So, in order to avoid future relationship conflicts, I’m going to tell my personal story about the time my husband hung a painting too high, the result of this mistake, and ways you can avoid such an ordeal.

Picture of painting

As our first anniversary approached, I was already prepared. A new painting at work called out to me. I saw it as a representation of my future with Jeff (my husband). The painting featured an off the beaten path camp of some sort, with two chairs on the front porch looking out over what I can only imagine is an endless gravel road. This may sound odd to you, but this was our dream for our future together! This was perfect timing, we had the perfect space for it, it was the perfect gift! And it was perfect... he loved it. However, like most things on our to do list, hanging it was put aside until we both had free time and were home at the same time; both seemingly rare occasions. Here in lies our first problem. Since two people are required to hang a picture, timing with us was an issue. Not to mention the frustration of an empty wall with no “our future life together” painting on it, (obviously my words, not my husbands) was causing issues on its own.

So, now what happens? My loving husband tries to hang it himself. Remember eye level? … Yeah, not in his realm of consciousness or reality. Not only was it not eye level, it was right up to the ceiling.

Now, we have high ceilings, and this is a factor. At least to his credit, the wall is concave about two to three feet down, so it’s not as high as you can look, but touching the ceiling of the cubby space…  you get the gist. Could not get higher!

I discovered this that evening as I came home from work and saw it hanging as I rounded the corner of the entrance to my house. A bit of aggravation came over me as I muttered some things to myself about how he never listens... this that and the other. Newlywed stuff I guess. I didn’t want to keep looking at my beautiful painting that way and Jeff wasn’t home… so I took it down.

Anyone anticipate that taking it down was a mistake? Well, you were right. He didn’t like that. I struck a nerve. Go figure. Long story short we had an argument. I reminded him of the last time we hung something too high, and how he should have waited for me. He reminded me that taking it down was childish and he doesn’t remember the thing that’s hanging too high, (which is still hanging too high but too heavy to do anything about it), being a problem.

And so on…

He eventually attempted to rehang the painting, lower this time. I discovered it this go-round, the same thing, coming home from work!

Who would have thought, drum roll… still too high. Go Figure.

This time I kept my mouth shut. It is still too high, but it’s better, and no more fighting. In fact, that argument was the last fight me and my husband have had to date… knock on wood.

It is no secret that the painting is too high and that this simple rule will again have to wait to one day be followed by the two of us. But if anyone can learn a lesson from all this, just know the bottom line, eye level, and communication... but mostly eye level. If the people in your home are all different heights, then take an average. Whichever way you go about it, it is a guideline that’s simple enough to follow. Don’t get me wrong, placement is not the only thing to consider, and I’m not implying that hanging anything is easy. But it’s a starting place and can be accomplished. (Assuming you are neither me or Jeff)

Other things to keep in mind when you are hanging: (tips from Amy)

-If a single piece, like the case of Jeff and me, it should be front, center, well-lit, and as my merchandising director put it, “The entire world should revolve around that piece.” Scale also comes into play here. Make sure the size of other pieces in the scene don't overtake or underwhelm your picture/ painting/ accessory.

Rule of thumb:


- Collage of pictures: The key is laying out on the floor first. Keep in mind proportion when hanging things of different sizes. Spacing!! Keep spacing consistent. This requires lots of measuring, checking and re-checking. Then, pencil on the wall where each nail will go for each piece. And hold your breath and start hammering


- Also, a leveler and stud finder are helpful tools

…more on this topic another time!

Turns out that Jeff and I are not the only couple who have had this design mishap, and we also learned that we are not the only couple who have had this fight. Hanging pictures too high is a classic mistake that is easy to overlook but just as easy to fix. Then again, Jeff and I still have a bunch of pieces on our walls that could use some adjusting. But for now, it will have to stay on our to do list. For us, when all the dust settled, what started as a sentimental gift that had turned into the domestic dispute so to speak, blossomed into a few important lessons, both in life and in design.