“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How do I display artwork without adding nail holes?

Here I used a hallway table and leaned a mirror on top.  I added a lamp, greenery, books, and a dish of hard candies to round out the display.

Here I used a hallway table and leaned a mirror on top.  The mirror is leaning on two strips of rubber shelving liner to hold it in place and prevent it from slipping.  Strips adhered along the top of the frame ensure it won’t scuff the walls.


Hi Lori!

I am a new stager and just signed a contract with a builder to stage three model homes.  The walls have just been painted, so the builder doesn’t want me to add any nail holes to hang artwork.  How can I properly stage a home and make it look finished without adding any artwork?  Have been following your blog for a while and am looking forward to your response.  Thanks in advance for your advice!

New Stager in New Jersey

Dear New Stager –

Congrats on signing up to stage three model homes!  That’s pretty impressive for any stager let alone someone new to the industry, so kudo’s to you!

Trust me when I tell you, the old ‘nail-holes-in-freshly-painted-walls’ dilemma has been around forever and seems to be a cause for great anxiety among builders, Realtors, and homeowners alike.  It is probably not without justification however, as I’ve personally seen some really horrific damage done to walls where someone with good intentions left behind nail holes the size of a dime or better, or tried to cover their tracks with spackle and made it even worse!

That said, there are definitely a few really good ways to avoid this and add your artwork without sweating bullets!

1)  Don’t use nails, use sewing machine needles!  They are incredibly sturdy, make a tiny hole, and have a thick, heavy end which is perfect for hanging.  Pound them in at an angle and they aren’t going anywhere.  If you have a REALLY heavy piece to hang, add two about 3 to 6 inches apart and you should be good.  To prevent the frame from scuffing the wall, add a heavy grip, non-adhesive rubber shelving liner cut into strips or Scotch rubber bumper dots to the back.

2)  Lean your artwork, instead!  You can still add a lot of color and give your room a finished look by leaning your artwork and avoiding nail holes, altogether.  Over a mantel, inside built-in shelving, on top of a console table.  All of these spots provide an opportunity to display your artwork without damaging the walls.  That same heavy grip, non-adhesive rubber shelving liner can be added to the bottom of the corners between the frame and display surface to hold it firmly in place.

3)  Use existing nail holes!  While this might not hold true in a newly built home, homes being re-sold will often leave previous nail holes behind.  (I see this a lot.)  Give the wall a good once over and you might even find a nail or two still in place that have simply been painted over and you can hang your artwork there.

4)  Invest in a couple of easels!  They make decorative easels in many sizes.  I have used them before in model homes, from small counter-top easels to fancy floor easels for dramatic displays.  Some are even adjustable so you can choose the height.  Do an online search, or check out home furnishing or art supply stores to find something that suits your needs.

Congrats again on your new gig and please let me know how it goes.  I’m sure your models will turn out fabulous!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.




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