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Home / Blog / How to Hang Pictures Salon-Style

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How to Hang Pictures Salon-Style

Posted 11 March 2021
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Example salon-style picture hanging layoutAre you looking for a way to display a collection of great photos in different sizes and formats? Why not try the 'salon-style' method of hanging.

This style of hanging art supposedly originates from The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, which is why it is also sometimes called Petersburg hanging.The walls there are hung with paintings arranged closely next to and on top of each other, sometimes even reaching up to the ceiling.

It was also popular in salons in the 19th century as a way to show off lots of art in small spaces.

Choose a Theme

You can hang any image you like, but the salon-style works best when there is a similar theme, style or colour which ties them all together.

What Type of Frames?

For a cleaner, more contemporary layout use thin frames in just two or three different finishes. Varying the width of the margins on your mat boards can add variety to the overall look.

If you want a more 'old time' or classic feel - for example if you have portraits and landscapes in oil - vintage and ornate gold frames can look great, but as they may be quite thick, don't crowd the frames together but instead have them dispersed throughout the cluster.

Choose Your Space

If you want to brighten up a small or irregular wall you could fill the entire wall with artwork, floor to ceiling, spanning the entire width. This doesn’t necessarily mean cramming it with as many artworks as possible, however - remember to space out the arrangement to fill the space in a balanced way.

When working with a large wall, like one found in a living room or bedroom, the art can create a focal point, concentrating interest in one particular area to help guide your eye around the room. In this case, rather than fill the entire wall hang your cluster above a couch or your headboard.


If you are starting with a blank wall and a collection of un-hung photographs, this part is easier as you can lay your frames on the floor to see how they might fit together and switch them around until you have the desired layout.

Another option - which you can also use if adding pictures to ones already hung - is to trace each framed piece onto paper, cut them out and tape them to your wall to build your composition (just remember to label each piece so you know which artwork it represents).

It's easier to start arranging from the middle and bottom and work upwards and outwards. If your cluster is going above your couch start with a picture near the center of the couch with the bottom of the frame around 8 to 10 inches above the top of the back of the couch. You can then proceed to place frames on either side; they don't have to be level along the bottom, but don't go below the bottom of your first picture.

As a loose rule, position your artwork so that at least one corner of each frame lines up with an edge of another piece and make all the spaces between them uniform. But rules are made to be broken, so if you prefer a less formal look ignore the rule and go with what looks pleasing to you!


Once you've collated your images, chosen the frames, picked a wall and created a layout, it's time to actually add those nails or hangers to your wall. Of course the problem is placing the hanger in the right spot so that your frame rests where you want it to! Here's some handy tips to help you:

  • 1. Place the frame against the wall where you want it to hang and use a spirit level to make sure it's straight.

  • 2. Draw a short line with a pencil along the center of the frame's top edge as your reference line. If you're hanging a really large picture it will help if you have an 'assistant' to hold it in place while you draw. Draw another two lines a couple of inches down each side from the top so you can find the middle of your frame.

  • 3. Lay the frame face-down on a flat surface. Place the wall hanger or nail in the appropriate hook tab or on the wire on the back of the frame and pull the wire taut. With a tape measure, measure the distance from the top edge of the frame to the center of the fastener. If your frame has two or more hangers measure the distance of each from the sides of your frame.

  • 4. Now back to the wall: Measure the same distance from the center of your penciled reference line down. Mark that spot with your pencil: That's where you're going to install your fastener. Again, if you have two or more hangers on the frame, measure and mark the distance inwards from the vertical pencil lines you drew earlier.

By measuring and marking carefully you can ensure that your frame will hang exactly where you want it to!

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