So, you’re redecorating your living room. You’ve found the couch of your dreams and all the accents to match: rug, coffee table, lamp. Just one final touch – the artwork! – and your masterpiece will be complete. You carefully hang it above the couch, step back to enjoy the view, and the triumphant music in your ears comes to a screeching halt. Something’s just not right.
If you’ve ever experienced this scenario, you’re not alone. Selecting wall art to best fit a given space is one step in interior decorating often overlooked. The result is a room that feels underwhelming or incomplete. But before you put your prized artwork back in storage (or go shopping for something new), consider the following tips for how to choose the right size wall art.
Do Some (Simple) Math
Simple calculations are the most foolproof way to determine the size of artwork you’ll need. The following steps will give you a range of measurements for wall art that covers between 4/7 and 3/4 of your wall (the sweet spot, so to speak).
- Measure the length and width of your available wall space. Available wall space refers to the blank area you want to fill, not covered by furniture, molding, and so on.
- Multiply the width by .57 and .75.
- Multiply the length by .57 and .75.
The width and length of the artwork you choose should measure within the range of these calculations. Hate math? Eyeball it and look for wall art that will cover 2/3 to 3/4 of your wall.
Give It Room to Breathe
Another thing to consider when selecting artwork is how high it will hang, whether on a blank wall or above a piece of furniture. Typically, the center of a piece should hang at eye level, 57 to 60 inches from the floor, but this can vary given other décor in your room.
If you plan to hang artwork above a sofa, dresser, or headboard, the bottom of the piece should hang 6 to 12 inches from the top of the furniture. As for width, select a piece that is 2/3 to 3/4 the width of the furniture.
If you’re hanging above a fireplace, 3 to 6 inches above the mantle will suffice. Select an artwork with a width larger than the fireplace opening, but smaller than the mantle.
Bigger is (Typically) Better
If you’re buying on a whim, remember that it’s better to err on the side of too big than too small. Large pieces, including oversized wall art, fill a visual field and create a focal point, while small pieces look like an afterthought.
If you don’t have one big piece, consider hanging multiple pieces together. Framed photographs, small canvases, or wall art sets have the same effect when displayed as a grid or gallery wall.
Before You Hang
When in doubt, use post-it notes to mark the corners of where you want your artwork. You can also pin up an artwork-sized piece of butcher paper. Both methods will give you a better sense of scale and help you visualize the piece before making a purchase or drilling into the wall.
Now you’re ready! Equipped with these tips, the fun of selecting wall art can begin.