A picture-perfect way to hang pictures
If you’re like most people, wall decorations are a large part of your home’s décor. In fact, according to a recent report, Americans spent $42 billion in wall decorations in 2009.
Wall hangings: a historical snapshot
The earliest instances of people hanging art on walls dates back to the 2nd century Han Dynasty, and the painted wood Pista Panels of Ancient Greece and Rome, circa 530 BCE. Tapestry art originating in ancient Egypt reached its heyday between the 16th – 18th centuries in the cathedrals and castles of noblemen in Europe.
It wasn’t until the Victorian era in the 19th century that ordinary people began hanging pictures in their homes to showcase their individual style and good taste. It was during this time when picture moulding became popular – mainly to penetrate thick plaster walls, and protect ornate, hand-painted wallpaper from being blemished by hooks and nails. Also, decoratively-carved picture rails perfectly complimented the baroque architectural design aesthetic of Victorian home décor.
The elegance of yesteryear for today’s modern home
Today, picture moulding continues to be a very elegant and unique way to hang wall decorations without marring your walls. Sometimes called picture rails, these functional items are carved pieces of wood – or composite material – similar to chair or crown moulding. The rail runs horizontally across a wall, with gallery wire strung from special picture rail hooks down to the picture frame, either straight down, or in the shape of a triangle.
Picture moulding 101
Picture moulding comes in many different thicknesses, profiles, and can be stained or finished to match any room. Where the rail is hung is up to you. Traditionally, and in more formal rooms, the moulding would be hung approximately ½” underneath crown moulding, or lined up with the top of windows.
Picture moulding hooks need to be sturdy enough to absorb the weight of the artwork. These are specialty items, so usually, your neighborhood hardware store won’t carry them. An online search will easily pull up many sites that carry a vast array, or, if you want to try finding vintage hooks, try searching your favorite salvage or antique shops.
Create your own art gallery
Hanging art from a picture rail adds a professional touch to any room. Get creative with how you hang your favorite wall decorations, and your display just might turn into a piece of art itself!