Person hanging art on wall

From functional pieces like mirrors and floating shelves to purely decorative items like tapestries and framed prints, wall art is the perfect way to add a finishing touch to any room. Naturally, you’ll want the items you hang up to complement the style and color scheme of the rooms they’re in, but did you know the placement and size of your art pieces are just as important for the aesthetics of your space?

In this edition of the Decorate by Numbers series, we’ll explore foolproof formulas for picking and hanging wall art that fits the scale of your space. As a bonus, you’ll find a couple of handy calculator tools that will help guide you toward the perfect placement and sizing of art just for you based on all the guidelines covered here!

Guidelines for Wall Art Placement

Before you can pick the correct art size, it helps to know the rules for properly hanging art, so let’s dive into the ideal placement of decor on your walls.

Hanging wall art can be daunting. I would sometimes go weeks between buying a new print and putting it up because I was afraid I would hang it slightly “off” and then get stuck patching old holes and making new ones. But these simple guidelines will ensure that your art never looks out of place!

Placement of Art on an Empty Wall

When it comes to hanging artwork, any wall that doesn’t have furniture in front of it can be considered an “empty wall.” No matter what type of decor you’re hanging, you can follow the same guidelines when determining how high to hang artwork on an empty wall.

To avoid the mistake of placing wall art too high or too low, you should typically center decor on walls at “eye level” for a comfortable viewing height. That means that the vertical center of your wall art should fall around 57 to 60 inches off the floor. This is a standard called the Eye Level Rule used by art galleries and museums to keep art at an optimal level for most people to view.

Additionally, unless you’re styling a very maximalist gallery wall, you shouldn’t place art too close to the top or bottom of the wall. To avoid a cramped look, I recommend leaving at least 12 inches between the top of your wall art and the ceiling or crown molding, as well as at least 12 inches between the bottom of your wall art and the floor or base molding.

Following these guidelines will help you pick the perfect size for art on empty walls.

Placement of Art Above Furniture

Pro tips for hanging art above furniture: 1) Centered above furniture, 2) 6 to 12 inches between bottom of art and top of furniture, 3) At least 12 inches between top of art and top of wall, 4) At least 57 inches from center of art to floor

The key to properly hanging wall art above a piece of furniture is to avoid any visual disjointedness between the furniture and the art.

Typically, art should be centered with the furniture below it. As a rule of thumb, the bottom of your wall art should float about 6 to 12 inches above your furniture. This provides the perfect amount of negative space to keep your art and furniture cohesive without feeling cramped.

Just like on empty walls, the distance from the top of your art to the top of the wall should be no less than 12 inches. Additionally, that gap should be no more than 2/3 of the total distance between the top of the furniture and the top of the wall. Finally, you should also make sure the center of your art is no lower than eye level.

Following these guidelines will help you pick the perfect size for art above furniture.

Placement of Art in Groupings

Pro tips for hanging art in a grouping: 1) 2 to 3 inches between art, 2) Treat entire grouping as one unit

If you’re arranging multiple decor pieces together into a grouping or a gallery wall, don’t forget the importance of negative space. Leave 2 to 3 inches between different items in your arrangement. This keeps the items far enough apart to have some breathing room from each other but still close enough together for the whole collection to look cohesive.

Art in groupings or gallery walls should be treated as one unit. That means that all of the placement guidelines we covered above and all the sizing guidelines we’ll cover below about art on empty walls and above furniture can also be applied to groupings of art on empty walls and above furniture.

Guidelines for Wall Art Size and Dimensions

If you’ve ever come home with the prettiest work of art to hang on your walls, only to find that it looks off once it’s up, then it may have been too big or too small for your space. You can pick the right dimensions for wall art by following the placement guidelines above in addition to the Two-Thirds Rule, which you may remember from the first post of the Decorate by Numbers series.

If you’re hanging an art grouping or gallery wall, remember that the spacing between pieces counts toward the overall width and height!

Art Size on an Empty Wall

Pro tips for picking art for an empty wall: 1) Width of art should be around 2/3 width of wall for statement art or smaller for non-statement art, 2) Height of art should be around 2/3 height of wall for statement art or smaller for non-statement art

You can use the Two-Thirds Rule to determine the ideal dimensions for art that will match the scale of your empty wall. Simply select art with a width around 2/3 of the width of the wall and a height around 2/3 of the height of the wall (not including molding). Of course, the Two-Thirds Rule is just a guideline and doesn’t have to be exact. I recommend staying within the range of 3/5 to 3/4 of the width and height of the empty wall.

The Two-Thirds Rule works best for when you want the art on an empty wall to be a focal point of the room. On the other hand, if you are hanging art somewhere that isn’t intended to make a statement, you can certainly go smaller than the dimensions proposed by the Two-Thirds Rule. Just make sure that your art fits the vertical placement criteria for empty walls from earlier:

  • The art should be centered at eye level.
  • The top of the art should float at least 12 inches below the ceiling or crown molding.
  • The bottom of the art should float at least 12 inches above the floor or base molding.

Art Size Above Furniture

Pro tips for picking art for above furniture: 1) Width of art should be around 2/3 width of furniture, 2) Height of art can vary but should meet placement guidelines based on wall furniture heights

The key to picking wall art that complements the furniture below it is to pay attention to the size of the furniture piece.

For the ideal width of art above furniture, use the Two-Thirds Rule: the width of your art should be about 2/3 of the width of the furniture below it. This is a guideline and doesn’t have to be exact. I recommend no less than 3/5 of the width of your furniture and no more than 3/4 of the width of your furniture. Using the Two-Thirds Rule for the art width keeps the art from appearing out of scale with your furniture.

Unlike width, there isn’t a clear guideline for the ideal height of art above furniture. Just make sure that your art fits all of the vertical placement criteria from earlier:

  • The bottom of the art should float 6 to 12 inches above the furniture.
  • The top of the art should float at least 12 inches below the ceiling or crown molding.
  • The distance from the top of the art to the top of the wall should be no more than 2/3 of the total space between the top of the furniture and the top of the wall.
  • The art should be centered at eye level or higher.

Wall Art Sizing and Placement Calculators

The guidelines above can be a lot to remember. Instead of doing a bunch of mental math, use my convenient wall art calculators to find the perfect sizing and placement for art in your space! Don’t feel like you’re bound to the results recommended by these tools, though, because there are plenty of reasons you might want to break away from the guidelines covered here.

Ideal Wall Art Size for Your Space

This wall art size calculator should put you on the right track to picking art that fits the scale and proportions of your space.

How High to Hang Your Wall Art

Once you’ve picked a perfectly sized piece of artwork, you’re ready to install your picture hangers (nails, screws, Command hooks, etc.) and hang up your art. To figure out exactly how high on the wall to install your hanging hardware, plug some measurements into this convenient hanging height calculator.

Conclusion

While we’ve explored some great guidelines for selecting the right size and placement of wall art, remember that these are not unbreakable rules. Your home should reflect your unique style and personality, and sometimes that means hanging art in “unconventional” ways.

If you come across a stunning piece of art that speaks to you but doesn’t fit the sizing criteria, you can still go for it! Most of the decorations I’ve hung up in my apartment are things that simply caught my eye one day, and I figured out how to make them fit in my space later. As long as it’s something that makes you happy, it’s the perfect fit.

I hope this guide to hanging art in your apartment has been helpful! Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can be notified about the next post in the Decorate by Numbers series.

If you have a specific space in your apartment where you’re still facing challenges with choosing the right wall art size or placement, leave a comment below. I’m here to help!

Happy decorating!

Uzma
Beginner's guide: wall art size and placement

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