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How High (or Low) Should You Go? - Your Guide to Hanging Heights Throughout Your Home

Have you ever wondered what the perfect placement height is to hang your artwork? Where your wall sconces should sit on the wall? How high your wall shelves need to sit? Today we're covering the most common height questions we are asked in every project, by clients and contractors alike, so let's dive into some starting points for many common scenarios! Let me start by saying hanging heights are very subjective, and as with any advice in life, should be taken with a grain of salt as you'll soon see why...

Modern transitional primary bathroom with custom stained double vanity by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.


I get asked about height for wall sconces over a bathroom vanity more than any other room in a house. Truth is there are so many ways to light any room in general. Personally, if there's space, I prefer to install sconces on either side of the vanity rather than over the mirror. Why? This eye level location helps prevent unflattering shadows or harsh glares that can sometimes happen with overhead lighting. While in most cases it’s best to install bathroom sconces between 60-65 inches from the floor, I think a better rule is to consider who uses the space and where their face "sits" in the mirror, and hang them accordingly.

We're actually working with a couple now where the husband is 6' 7" and the wife is 5' 4". They luckily have vanities across from each other in their primary bathroom. When the lighting was ready to be penciled out in the space, we used their standing height at the vanities and measured where their face was centered in the specified mirror size and hung wall sconces accordingly.

For bathroom mirrors, we start at 4-6 inches above the finished faucet, depending on the style and type, as well as the height of the backsplash.

Wall Art

A quick rule of thumb for wall art is that it should hang it so the center of the picture is at eye level. As we pointed out earlier, this tip sounds easy enough until you consider that eye level for one person may not be eye level for another person in your household. If art is being hung above a sofa, I typically start at 6 inches above the back of the sofa cushions. However, it's more important to know how high the heads of your family sit above the cushions to ensure they're not hitting their heads on frames or artwork when they lean back.

If we're hanging one large piece of art, I typically hang it so that the center of the piece is at 57 inches from the floor, to accommodate the eye level of the average woman but will tweak it based on my client's height. Note too that the size of art will influence what the perfect hanging height is. For instance, the hanging height of a long horizontal piece will hang differently than that of a gallery wall type of installation or a long vertical piece or even perhaps two smaller pieces, one on top of another.

Wall Shelves

Depending on what you plan to display on your wall shelves and the number of shelves you want to use, the hanging heights can vary. For example, in the primary bedroom project above, we used just two shelves but with large vertical art pieces. I always like to gather the items first in the space and set them up on the floor to get the best arrangement first. As previously pointed out, our goal is to keep the center of the display at eye level (so roughly 57 to 60 inches from the center of the grouping to the floor). On average, we plan for at least 18 inches between shelves but tweak this number based on the specific items to be displayed.

Dining Table Chandeliers

The standard answer might say to hang the bottom of your chandelier 30 to 36* inches over a dining table. *Note: These numbers are for an 8 foot ceiling...for each foot of additional height, I start adding 3 inches to the hanging height per additional foot of ceiling height). Personally I like a chandelier height to be 34-36* inches above a dining table. Why? I don't want to obstruct any views whatsoever, and in the case of the dining room above, the art work was very special to these clients, and they wanted that in full view from the hallway. Raise your hand if you're getting the drift...I know the rules but I also believe rules are made to be tweaked accordingly (which is why I always insist on being on site with our electricians to visually approve hanging heights for our full service projects).

Kitchen Island Pendants

The bottom of your pendant typically hangs 30-36 inches above the island, but I believe you have to take the plane of view into account for your space. My own kitchen has pendants that hang 43 inches above the surface of the island because I wanted to be able to see into the living room unobstructed.

Bottom line: One major takeaway from this blog post - make sure you or your designer is present when lighting is hung to ensure the right height for you in your space before its finalized! Boy do I have stories...but that's for another day!

I hope these tips helped you! Is there any situation you didn't see that you're wondering about? Leave a comment below or send us a message over on Instagram!


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