Hanging pictures above a staircase

I received a comment asking how to best hang pictures going up a staircase. This can be such a great way to display pictures, so let's see if I can help.

First, there are "rules" about how to do this. I will tell you about them, but since I don't like design "rules" I will also show you how to break them!

One easy way to help you arrange many pictures together is to use craft paper (or any paper really) and trace your frames on the paper, cut them out and mark on the paper where the nail will go with that frame. This is your template. Cut out all of templates and use painter's tape to attach them to the wall you're working with. You can move them around, see how they work together, what fits well and how it will look in the end. The bonus is you've already marked the nail position, so you can hammer the nail in right over the paper, tear the paper down and hang your picture. Instant wall of well-placed pictures!

Here are some ideas to help you arrange pictures above stairs. I've attached two pictures to help me articulate my ideas.

The most pleasing arrangement is to follow the line of the angle up the stairs and use that as your base line for your pictures. Make sense? 

Take a look at the photo to the left with the two pieces of art. Simple and clean and if you drew a diagonal line connecting the bottom of the frames it would run parallel to the staircase. Sounds much more complicated than it is. 

Larger, "heavier" frames usually look best near the bottom of the arrangement, as they help weigh it down. 

While I think this looks great, there are other ways to hang pictures above stairs—that look just as great.

This picture, with the black-framed art, doesn't follow the angle of the steps, but plays with the wainscoting and shelves, stacking the pictures along those lines and creating great visual interest with the placement and contrast of the frames with the white wainscoting. 

The frames unify the look and the "stepped up" arrangement works with the steps. 

I love it. 

Try different things, do what looks good to you and showcases your pictures in their best light. Be brave, there's no "right" or "wrong" and anything you don't like is easily fixed!


Anonymous said...

Thanks April. I love the bottom picture you included. I'm going to try and incorporate that style. The idea of tracing the frames is brillant. No more marking up my wall.

April Force Pardoe said...

Great. Please send me pictures when you are done—I'd love to see the finished product. april@afpinteriors.com

shari said...

Hi April - thanks for the good ideas! I'm impressed!

Susan said...

I ran across this page while looking for ideas for displaying photos on a staircase. I've been searching forever now it seems. I have a bland two-story foyer that has proven to be a challenge for me due to the height. The second photo you posted with the wainscotting and shelves just might be the perfect thing to do in order to take away some of the height. Do you happen to have a photo of the entire wall? Knowing me I'd get half way and not know what to do with the other half.

I would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks, Susan

April Force Pardoe said...

Thanks for your message. I do NOT have any more of that picture to share with you. But, I have some ideas to help you do the job.

I would take painters tape and mark out a grid for the wainscotting — all the way up the staircase. The size of your staircase will determine the size of your wainscotting “steps.” Establish a regular pattern (2’ long, up 1’, across 3’, etc.) and repeat it. It can be as simple as 2’ across, 2’ up.

Play around with it and then build your art around it.

Remember, too, that you can place a large frame around a tiny picture/print to make it larger to fill a space. So when you are creating your art wall think outside the size of the picture!

Good luck and keep me posted.

Erica said...

I hope you and your readers can help me, too! I have an open stairway (15 steps) with an 18' ceiling in my foyer. SO MUCH wall space! I also have 3 family-heirloom landscape watercolors, 2 each are 18" x 16" and one is 24" x 22". They'll be lost if I only use them on the stairway. Is it possible to use them in a grouping toward the lower portion of the stairs with the largest at the "bottom" to anchor it, then divide the wall with something else (iron work feature?) and then do some other kind of grouping toward the top? This wall has remained bare for way too long and I would love to use my family heirlooms somehow. Help!!

April Force Pardoe said...

Erica, please email me a picture of your staircase, etc. to april@afpinteriors.com.

I'll try to offer suggestions!


Anonymous said...

April - Where did you find the matching picture frames? Your staircase is identical to mine and I'm desperately trying to replicate your picture frame design.

April Force Pardoe said...

KC - thanks for your comment. This post is still popular 3 years later! That staircase is not mine and those are not my frames, but, you can find matching frames via an online search or by painting wooden frames (or spray painting old frames). Good luck!