Unifying elements, such as all black-and-white photos, help a wall grouping come together as a single composition.

How to Arrange Framed Pictures in a Group

by Michelle Radcliff

Hanging framed pictures in a group creates a stronger visual impact than hanging one individual picture, unless you enlarge it to hang as a stand-alone piece. You can group pictures as a single composition, with unifying elements in matting, frames or subject matter. For a more informal arrangement, create a random grouping with different frame colors and sizes. Use informal arrangements with asymmetrical designs in children's rooms, nurseries, playrooms and along staircases or hallways. Plan your layout by first taping paper cutouts of the pictures to your wall before you drill holes.

Use sticky notes to number each picture. Trace around each frame on a roll of craft or butcher paper and label each tracing with the appropriate number of the corresponding picture. Cut out the frame tracings and set aside. Commission older children to help cut out paper frames if you're decorating a child's room or playroom or creating child-related grouping.

Position your framed pictures on the floor. Experiment with different grouping arrangements until you find the one you like best. Place older photos near the center of an asymmetrical grouping and work your way out with newer pictures if you plan to keep adding to it.Take a picture of your grouping to refer back to later.

Use the craft paper cutouts to transfer your grouping idea from the floor to the wall. Space the paper cutouts closely and evenly, using the same distance between each. Use a tape measure to check the accuracy of the spacing. Tape the cutouts in place, making adjustments as necessary, until you are satisfied with the grouping. Opt for higher placement in a toddler or young child's room to keep grubby fingerprints off of the pictures.

Install the picture-hanging hardware onto each frame using a screwdriver or hammer, according to the manufacturer or kit's instructions. Hang each frame in the corresponding position of its paper cutout, one frame at a time. Use a carpenter’s level to ensure the frame is hanging straight before moving on to the next frame.

Items you will need

  • Sticky notes
  • Butcher or craft paper
  • Pencil
  • Framed pictures
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Painter’s tape
  • Picture-hanging hardware
  • Screwdriver or electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Carpenter’s level


  • Place the center of your grouping at standard eye level, which is 60 to 66 inches above the floor.
  • Odd numbers make aesthetically pleasing groupings in asymmetrical displays.
  • Use symmetrical groupings in formal rooms with even numbers of pictures.
  • Straight horizontal or vertical lines are a simple yet effective way to display groupings of three pictures.
  • Groupings of four pictures look effective when hung in a square formation, with two pictures over two pictures.
  • Hang larger even-numbered groupings, such as six or eight pictures, in long vertical or horizontal rectangles.
  • Save diagonal groupings for staircases.
  • In a family grouping, keep an 8-by-10-inch picture frame easily accessible so you can change the photo each school year.
  • Look online for photo gallery wall layouts for inspiration and ideas.


  • Avoid using frames with real glass in a child's room or playroom. Choose acrylic or plastic overlays.

About the Author

Michelle Radcliff owned a retail home furnishings business for eight years. Radcliff offers decorating advice on her blog, Home Decorating News, is a regular contributor on interior design at LoveToKnow.com and earned certification as an interior decorator from Penn Foster College in 2013.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images