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.