How To: Float a Painting

While things with the headboard aren’t going exactly as planned, we were able to check off a few little projects around the house this weekend. Easy projects make you feel SO accomplished.

First up, getting the painting hung. It’s been leaning on the mantel since we moved in and, while I appreciate the casualness of the look, it’s not really what I’m going for.

leaning painting

I want the painting to look like it’s floating in front of the wall.

To figure out where the hooks need to be placed, we first need to do a little math. This is almost too easy; I’m probably over-complicating the issue.

My equations to get everything centered:
(height of wall – height of painting)/2 = distance away from the molding the top edge of the painting
(46.5″ – 37.75″)/2 = 4.375″

(width of wall – width of painting)/2 = distance away from the wall edge to side edge of painting
(62.625″ – 36″)/2 = 13.3″


Since the painting is canvas on stretcher bars, the hooks will be under the bars. Add 2.25″ to the distance away from the molding. The top of the hooks should be 6.625″ (4.375″ + 2.25″) down from the bottom of the top molding.

Because we want the painting to look like it’s floating, the hooks should be inset from the edges of the painting. That way they’re as hidden as possible.

I decided placing the hooks 15″ apart would be good. That would give me enough stability to keep things from constantly tipping & still keep the hooks well hidden.

Just a little more math:
(width of the painting – distance between hooks)/2 = distance from painting edge to hook
(36″ – 15″)/2 = 10.5″

So we know the distance from the edge of the wall to the edge of the painting (13.3″).
And we know the distance from the edge of the painting to the first hook (10.5″).
Therefore, the distance from the edge of the wall to the first hook is going to be 23.8″ (13.3″ + 10.5″).

measurements for hooks

After all this math, we’ve figured out that the first hook should be placed 6.625″ down from the bottom of the molding and 23.8″ away from the edge of the wall. GOOD!


Because we’re screwing into plaster, pre drill your holes.

pre-drill your holes

Then measure for the 2nd hook. The second hook is 15″ away from the first, although the horizontal measurements don’t have to be exact. The painting will slide horizontally to center on the wall.

The vertical measurement is much more important. I couldn’t place our second hook 6.625″ down from the molding because our moldings weren’t level. To me, it was more important the painting be level, than parallel with the moldings.

level between holes

Then screw them in!

make sure things are level

I guess I should point out HOW we’re going to get the painting to float. Super simple!

We’re using these long hooks. That’s it! They’re from IKEA; cheap & they’ve got a little pokey thing {technical term} right on the front that slips in between the stretcher bar & the canvas to keep it from slipping off the front. I’ve had these hooks for years, so I’m not sure if they still carry them or not. If not, they probably have something similar.


Once both hooks are secure, you’re done!


Just rest the painting one top & VOILA!!

floating painting

floating painting

floating painting from side

floating painting right side

It’s not a huge visual difference but checks something off the grand TO DO list. Not bad for 30 minutes & some math.

leaning painting floating painting

Have you ever hung something away from the wall? Or is that just silly?

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9 Responses to How To: Float a Painting

  1. That looks so good. Nice tip.

  2. caitieg says:

    love it. it makes me think of a scene in fantasia or something. Dancing crutches (think dancing brooms) coming at you from the wall while you’re lying in bed.

  3. cazzy says:

    What is the significance of the painting? Am I right that it’s crutches that are partially submerged under water with some fire in the background?

  4. Lily says:

    You totally lost me at “math”
    I glazed over for most of the blog, but the end result is FAB-ulous!

  5. Pingback: The Crutch Painting « brick city love

  6. wrm says:

    Looks good.

    I would never hang a painting with a spirit level — I get a member of the ovarian network to tell me when it looks level, because in my experience what is level doesn’t always look level.

    Although in your picture I think it’s the camera making it look slightly out of kilter.

  7. Pingback: The Master Bedroom « brick city love

  8. Amanda Gibson says:

    HI! Can I tell you I am sooooo excited that I found this post. Please please please contact me as I need to know what these hooks are called and were to get them. I live in the Caribbean and we have tons of yucky lizards (gecos) that come into the house and hide behind the paints and so I have not hung any in our new home because floating them is EXACTLY what i need to do to turn them off !Pleae email me at

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