DIY • 12 {Unexpected} Places to Hang a Picture

My husband alleges that I cannot stand the sight of a bare wall, and he eyes me pretty suspiciously when I reach for my measuring tape and toolbox. But while I do actually appreciate an untouched expanse of wall, I also enjoy envisioning the opportunities for decor a space has to offer.

If you are the same way, here is a list of 12 spots for hanging a picture that go beyond the expected real estate, such as over a mantle or above big pieces of furniture.

1 • Over a door or window.

Sometimes the few inches between the ceiling and molding offer just enough space for an inspiring word, playful graphic or graceful metalwork.


2 • Low over a dresser or nightstand.

It is not unusual to find bedside tables or chests adorned with a photo frame. However, hanging the frame low over the piece of furniture provides all the benefits of color and height while allowing for more usable surface area.


3 • Over a floating shelf.

Similar in concept to the previous idea, affixing a picture to the wall above the shelf can create space for other decorative items to be added the display, especially if the shelf or picture ledge is not very deep.

4 • In front of a window.

In the right space, particularly one that gets plenty of light anyway, hanging a picture right in front of the window lends a whimsical, cottage-y feel to a room. The picture could be mounted directly onto the wood frame or crossbar of the window or suspended from a ribbon for a more romantic touch.

This layered look is a popular one to use with wall decor that features a lot of glass, such as a floating frame, vintage stained glass, or even another smaller (usually reclaimed) window. It can work nicely in a bathroom where light is desired but so is privacy!

5 • On the back of a door.

Not just for hooks anymore, this idea usually functions best in a room whose door is frequently closed. In a bedroom or home office, this space is an opportunity for a calming image or motivating message; in a bathroom, it can be a good opportunity to remind guests to wash hands and remember to flush!

6 • Under (upper) kitchen cabinets.

Although a beautifully tiled backsplash needs no adornment, other types of between- counter-and-cabinet space can feel a little drab. Punch up the space with a fun plaque, a small hanging cluster of dessert plates, or a symmetrical line of rectangular framed art.


7 • On a bookcase.

One popular design trick is to hang a frame directly onto a horizontal shelf or vertical crossbeam of a wooden bookcase. Doing so adds dimension and keeps valuable shelf space open for storage.

Another option is hang a frame or series of frames on the side of the bookshelf to utilize an unexpected place and to add vertical interest to a room. Sometimes the side of a bookcase can even be a good place for organizational decor such as hooks and vertical file holders.

8 • Under a lofted bed.

Granted, not every house has a lofted or bunked bed, but for ones that do, this space is a cheeky spot for color and pattern.


9 • On a staircase overhang.

Sometimes the low overhang above a staircase can be a bit of a hazard, especially for taller people. However, it can also be an opportunity for visual interest. A horizontal box sign can deliver a message or stacked prints can pack a punch in spaces with a high vertical reach.

10 • Pretty low.

In general, hanging a picture lower than usual in a room can enhance the vista of the room by breaking up the usual sightline of furniture backs and eye-level frames. This idea also works well with a small mirror, especially as part of grouping of framed pieces because mirrors provide light and depth while art injects color and variety.

11 • Really high.

This idea works best for rooms with high or lofted ceilings and is a nice way to showcase big artwork. Hanging artwork higher than usual (if a room allows for it) can ground a large open space and balance out the visual elements of a room.

Stack 2 or 3 pieces in a vertical column, concentrate on one dominant piece, or hang a series of prints evenly spaced across horizontal plane of an entire wall. Fans of a gallery wall can try incorporating larger pieces into the mix to extend the overall height of the grouped design; as indicated in the photo below, higher-than-usual art displays can have a striking effect even in a room without extra-tall walls.


12 • On the ceiling.

Hanging a picture in a traditional way may not work for a ceiling, but that is no reason that this space cannot serve a decorative function. From glow-in-the-dark stars to painted murals or monograms to self-adhesive maps, decals, or wallpaper, this surface is full of potential.





Photos for cover & idea 11 are courtesy of


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