November 14, 2007

Picture hanging for the hardware-obsessed owner of an old house

Filed under: House Blog — marcstober @ 11:04 pm

One thing I like about our old house is the picture rail incorporated into the crown molding. Picture rails are an anachronism; they’re a way to hang pictures without making a hole in the wall, but with today’s materials it’s easy to patch a small hole–even in old textured plaster walls–that only places like art galleries and office buildings that constantly rotate art need a hanging system.

I wanted to use the picture rails but it took a while to find hardware I liked. Molding hooks are easy to find at a local hardware store or in vintage designs through reproduction catalogs, but they require a wire to be looped around a hook, creating more visual noise on the wall than I wanted.

Eventually, I found a system that worked. At the top was a specially designed hook holding a cable with a finished end that hangs straight down. The cable is not picture hanging wire that you can twist and tie but wire rope or “aircraft cable” that is stronger and more flexible (and probably easier to hang straight without kinking). The effect is very clean and “architectural.”

The fun part is the cable grippers with an integrated hook, that attach to the art instead of a regular picture hanger and can be moved up and down without tools. You cannot get anything like this at a local store.

I bought the whole system from a company called Hang Ups. They have a website but are clearly more of a business-to-business operation; it’s not like ordering from Pottery Barn.

  • Very cool! I like the architectural look of them!

  • I don’t use wire around the hooks clipped onto the picture rail. Rather, I attach the eye hooks on the back of the picture to the upper corners of the back of the frame and suspend the picture with all-but-invisible fishing line. Nothing remotely architectural about it, but the house retains a period purity that works well for us.

  • Ryan

    Griplock Systems has a very nice art hanging system as well

  • Rachel

    I too have picture rail and love it but am unsure of which materials to purchase from hangups. Which parts did your purchase for your system?

  • marcstober

    The C-hook, cable gripper hook, and cable from this page:

  • Jackie Forbes

    I love the look of your picture hook, much better than the V shape. I’ll have to find somewhere in the UK like Hangups for suppies.