Yes, size matters. Of course, we are talking about the size of wall art.
Hanging artwork is a great way to add personality to a room. One of the main questions to ask yourself is what you want to achieve with the artwork on display?
There are many different sizes of fine art that you can hang, from large standalone pieces to a collection of small frames that make up an art collage.
Deciding on how to arrange and hang your wall art and figuring out the perfect size can be a bit intimidating and challenging. But it doesn’t have to be.
Once you have read this wall art size guide, it will be a piece of cake to arrange your art!
Basics of wall art sizing
Let's get the basics down first.Wall art can generally be divided in 3 (or 4) different categories.
Small wall art
Any art ranging from postcard size up to around 40 cm in height and width is considered small wall art.
Art in frame by Tom Kluyver
When you have a smaller room with limited wall space, small art pieces are the way to go. Smaller fine art pieces are perfect for decorating shelves or grouping several pieces together for a gallery or wall art collage.
Not only can small art easily be styled as an accessory, it can also very well complement other, larger artwork.
Medium-sized wall art
Medium-sized wall art ranges between 40 to 60 cm. Medium art can be displayed on its own but is also still small enough to be paired with other pieces.
Some typical places to hang this size of art are hallways and offices. Besides hanging, you can consider placing these frames on picture shelves.
Should your single medium art piece still look a bit small and lonely on your wall, you could consider hanging it in a series of similarly-sized pieces to create a set.
Art in frame by Chris König
Large and extra-large wall art
Large art pieces (60-90 cm) or extra-large pieces (90+ cm) work great as standalone pieces and can add balance to smaller wall art.
Generally, a large or extra-large piece looks great at the centre of a gallery wall. In addition, if you hang a few smaller pieces next to it, you’ll create an interesting art gallery look.
This artwork size works great as a statement piece in a variety of different sized rooms as well.
With this information in mind, we can move on to the room and wall that will host the fine art piece(s).
Read the room: where to display your wall art
First off, look around your space. Where would you like to hang some artwork? Depending on the wall you choose, there are a few guidelines regarding wall art size.
After choosing a wall, measuring the available space is the way to decide how big your wall art should be and where on the wall you should hang it.
You’ve got a blank wall when there is no furniture placed against that wall.
As a general rule, 60% - 75% of the blank space can be filled with art. However there are some guidelines that are more specific and can help you optimise your wall space, as seen below.
Area to hang your work in: First off, measure the full width and height of your wall. Then multiply these by 0.6 and 0.75 to get the area within which your artwork(s) should fit.
Let’s explain this with an example. If your wall is 360 cm wide and 280 cm high, then the width of the area is between 0.6 x 360 and 0.75 x 360 cm, so 216 - 270 cm. The height of the area would be from 168-210cm (0.6x280 and 0.75 x 280).
Height: The centre of your artwork should hang at eye level, which is about 150-155 cm for most people.
If you hang artwork on a blank wall close to a dining table, hang the artwork’s bottom around 15-30 cm above the height of the chairs.
A common place to hang artwork is above the sofa, bed or dresser. When hanging artwork above furniture, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Height: Make sure your wall art has some room to breathe by keeping at least 15-30 cm space between the furniture top and the art piece.
Width: The artwork should fill about 60% - 75% of the furniture’s width.
If your sofa is 200 cm wide, you can place art in an area ranging 120-150 cm wide (multiply by 0.6 and 0.75).
Above a fireplace
The space above a fireplace is a classic spot to display wall art. When hanging art above a fireplace you should be careful not to inadvertently damage the piece due to (extreme) temperature changes and possible dust and smoke. You can find more information about caring for art here.
Height: Hang your artwork 7,5-15 cm above the fireplace’s mantle.
Width: Ideally the art work should be smaller than the mantle, but wider than the fireplace opening.
How to arrange your display art on the wall
You now know how big the area is where you can hang your art and thus which size wall art to get.
However, within the area you can arrange your art in several ways. This also impacts what wall art size(s) to choose.
A gallery wall is a fun way to decorate your wall and show off your art taste.
By using artworks of different sizes and aspect ratios you can create a beautiful gallery wall, which will be interesting to look at.
If your wall art area is relatively small, you may want to stick with a collage of smaller art pieces.
The bigger the area, the larger some pieces in your collage can be. Want to hang multiple pieces of different heights next to each other? Make sure to centre the pieces vertically. This helps to create a visually balanced display.
Should you have a narrow space, you can lay out your gallery wall vertically. Three pieces of the same size hung vertically, is a tried and true way to spruce up your space.
Remember the wall area you calculated in the previous section? You can fill it up entirely with a single (extra) large art piece.
This is a great option to make a statement with a centrepiece. Or to bring some calm if you have a cluttered or busy room. Hanging just a single art piece helps to not overwhelm the space.
If done right, you can create a beautiful focal point for the room that fills up that big empty space on the wall the right way.
If you’re still in doubt aboutwhat size to go with, going bigger is usually best. A centrepiece that’s too small will look out of place and make the room feel smaller.
Don’t forget to consider the orientation of your image. Portrait-oriented art is great for a narrow wall, while landscape-oriented art fits perfectly above the sofa or a bed.
Art in frame by Chris König
Arranging wall art on shelves
Another way to decorate your wall is to use floating shelves. This also saves you from putting too many holes in your wall.
Create a layered look by mounting your shelves in a staggered pattern on the wall. Got a long, narrow space with low ceilings? Placing shelves in a single line will create a uniform look.
Try before you buy
Before buying the actual art, there is an easy way to visualise the wall art size in your room.
Outline the size(s) of the wall art with painter’s tape, sticky notes or paper. Then take a step back and take it all in. You can even leave it on the wall for a day or two, to get a good feeling of the size.
This method also helps when you want to design a gallery wall. Cut out the different sizes of your (potential) art pieces and shuffle them around until you get the layout you like.
To compare different layouts, take a photo of each layout for easy comparison.
Final tip: Go big or go home
In general, bigger is better.
As you read in the sizing guidelines, wall art can take up a large part of a wall (60%-75%) and may be quite large relative to furniture.
So when you’re in doubt about a size, going bigger nearly always works out better than an art piece that is awkwardly small and out of place.