No level needed, just eyeball it

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

If you ever want to test your patience and maybe your marriage, just try hanging a picture. It sounds rather simple, but the mere act of adding decoration to your walls can test even the strongest of bonds.

A couple of weekends ago, I rushed into the house carrying two rather large pictures in sturdy black frames. I had been looking for several weeks for something to go in our bedroom and thought I had finally found something that was the perfect marriage of price and style.

“Can you hang these for me?” I asked, noticing Greg looked less than thrilled.

Of all household activities, hanging pictures is Greg’s least favorite. I’ve had to threaten to call a handyman or my dad to come and hang things before. This day was no different. He got up, looking none too happy, and retrieved his level, hammer, nails and a large toolbox.

“Do we really need all that?” I asked. “Can’t we just eyeball things?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he brought the ladder into the bedroom and climbed up a couple of steps, aiming his laser level across the wall. He measured, marked off some spaces, checked the laser level and measured again. After what seemed to be an hour (Sutton and I just sat on the floor watching) he hung the pictures on the wall.

They weren’t right.

“Those aren’t straight and they are too far apart,” I said.

He started the whole process over, this time making me climb the ladder and hold the level. He measured – again – and moved the nails. He moved the ladder and checked the level – again. He measured the back of the frames and adjusted the wire on the back of each and then hung them on the wall.

It still wasn’t right.

Frustrated, Greg began to complain the wall wasn’t straight, the level wasn’t working or the frames were off kilter.

“Let me try,” I said, taking the hammer in hand.

I stood on the bed (no ladder for me) looked at the center of the headboard and scooted out just a little. I held the picture up, eyeballed it and hammered in the nail. I then used the finger measure method and hung the other picture.

They were perfect.

“See, it doesn’t have to be so hard,” I said.

Greg didn’t answer, other than to say “I hate hanging pictures.” A few hours later, when I thought it was safe to bring up the subject, I asked how liked the new artwork on the wall.

“I think they are the best things ever,” he said. “I think they are going to hang there for the next 20 years because I’m sure not going to hang anything else.”

And he’s right. Next time, I will just eyeball things from the start and then stand back and admire my handiwork.

Note: Leada Gore is the publisher of The Hartselle Enquirer. Her column appears each Wednesday.