Hanging art is the quickest way to add personality to a room, whether you’re considering creative gallery wall designs or just looking for unique ways to fill blank walls. But figuring out how to hang art to look cohesive can be tricky and it can feel intimidating. What’s a good height for art on an empty living room wall? How do you make a collection look cohesive? Where does art always look good in the home? Rule number one: Don’t nail anything until you have a plan!
To help answer all your other questions (and more), we tapped our Modsy designers to share their best tips on how to hang art in the home. From placement to the subject matter to location, here’s a comprehensive guide to hanging art with insights from our designers to help you get it just right for your spaces. Find out more below!
How To Hang Art: The Technical Stuff
Hang At Eye Level
When hanging art above a console table or sideboard specifically (you’ll want to aim higher with a sofa or a fireplace), always make sure it’s at least 4″ to 6″ above the piece. This ensures your artwork is displayed at eye-level and “floats” with just enough room above your cabinet or storage piece. Frame it with objects and lighting, which will visually center it as a focal point.
Measure From The Ground Up
If you’re showcasing a piece of art above a table or desk with an open base, make sure the bottom of your artwork is at least 60” from the floor and 4” to 6” above your furniture. This is also the case if you’re hanging a piece of art solo on a blank wall. Because open-base furniture adds negative space to the surrounding area of art, you want to make sure to hang your art high enough above the ground and your furniture so that it looks proportionate from afar.
Think About Shape
When hanging a collection of art or creating a gallery wall, consider the overall shape you’re trying to create with your art pieces before nailing it in. A good rule of thumb is to first lay out your pieces on the floor and plot out the placement and shape you want—three in a row, one horizontal next to two vertical pieces, etc. The overall shape and composition of your artworks will be determined by the size and orientation of the pieces.
Consider Frame Size & Matte
Matte and the frame size in relation to art is also important because it influences the scale of the pieces and the wall space they visually occupy. Start by deciding if your works of art require a matte or not. With matte, smaller art can be made to appear larger and airier with a larger matte or frame; vice versa, larger art can be made to seem smaller with a smaller matte or frame.
How To Curate Art For Spaces: The Subject Matter
General Art vs. Intricate Pieces
One of the challenges with hanging art is deciding where to actually place a piece. A good starting point is to consider the subject matter of the piece in relation to your space. For example, family art in a family room or living room is a great way to showcase pieces that anyone and everyone can see and take in. Meanwhile, a collection of evocative black-and-white photographs or a gallery wall of impressive paintings might be best for a hallway where people can walk up and view the pieces up close for a more intimate examination of the details.
Small Scale, Big Inspiration
Wondering how to hang art in a more practical space, like a home office or bedside? Try adding smaller-scale art pieces that have an inspiring subject matter or a personal story above a desk, dresser, or nightstand for a unique focal point. By juxtaposing smaller art above larger pieces, it plays with scale and creates contrast while adding an unexpected element of surprise.
Go Singular & Bold In Large Spaces
In contrast to smaller-scale art, you can never go wrong with bold and colorful large-scale art in a spacious room. Consider a large landscape painting or one large photograph to fill large blank walls in a living room or dining room. Here, it’s all about a piece that adds a view to the room, so making sure your art is large and provides impact is key.
How To Make Art Shine: The Lighting Factor
Bring in a floor lamp for a warm glow
Art can take on a cozy and elegant look when it’s illuminated by the soft glow of a floor lamp. This is especially great for a reading corner or a nook that has a gallery wall display. Floor lamps offer both down and uplighting but tend to have a dimmer glow, so if you want to set a moodier tone for your art at night, try adding one to complement your artworks.
Try a formal reading sconce
You may want to consider adding a sconce or a library light high up on your wall to give your art a more formal look. Whether you’re it’s a series of prints or just a single painting, hanging art under a library lamp immediately elevates your art display from every day to elegant—with a touch of traditional style. This is also a great way if there are works you want to really highlight.
Let natural light work its magic
While good lighting makes all the difference with art, you can’t beat the ever-changing glow of natural light. However, it’s always a good idea to consult an expert on how to hang art near natural light, because you want to mind the amount of sun and exposure your art gets on the day-to-day. If your art piece gets intense sunlight during the day, dress your windows with curtains so that you can control how much your piece gets exposed to natural light. As beautiful as art looks under changing daylight, you want to be sure not to ruin your piece!
Where To Hang Art
Now, for some inspiration, here are a few of our favorite places to hang art in the home!
Above a nightstand
This is a great place to experiment with hanging art because it’s your private space. Hang art that’s personal to you. Vary the art on both sides of the bed to give each their own personality.Shop This Look
Off-center in the living room
For a little drama and unexpected flair, hang a large graphic piece of art off to the side of your sofa in the living room. It makes for a stylish and surprising focal point. Explore more ways to ace the oversized wall art trend.Shop This Look
Centered above a sofa
A tried-and-true place for any large-scale art piece. Go with one that has bold shapes or lots of colors to really bring attention to the space above your sofa.Shop This Look
Above a console (behind the sofa)
Sneak in a little more function with a console behind your sofa and ensure it feels intentional with a large piece of art place just above it.Shop This Look
As an accent in a dining room
The dining room is an often-overlooked space for art, but it can have a major impact. Add a vertical drawing or painting to liven up the wall behind your dining table.Shop This Look
Centered above a fireplace
Why not play up the fireplace even more by hanging art above the mantel? You can either go with a series of prints or one large painting. The only rule is whatever you hang should be bold!
Above a desk in an office
For a tailored look in a home office, try displaying a collection of prints, be it a trio or a set of six. It will add tons of visual interest and give you something inspiring to look at in your workspace.Shop This Look
Centered above a bed
Art in the bedroom can be as simple as hanging a painting above your bed. If you have a headboard, this is a great way to draw attention to it and add height (and color) to the room.
Flanking a doorway
Practical spaces like your entryway design can always use a bit of art. Hang a diptych or a pair of prints on either side of the front door, which is a surefire way to liven up the busy space.
Flanking a console in a hallway
Whether it’s your foyer or hallway in your home, create a symmetrical showcase by hanging art alongside your console table. It creates a balanced look with an effortless, refined air.Shop This Look
Above a sideboard
Take a modern approach and opt for an abstract painting or one large-scale photo above a sideboard. The key is to keep it all minimal looking, be it in your living space or dining area.Shop This Look
Browse our room gallery for more Interior design ideas!
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