How To Size Art For A Wall

Unless you work with (or are) an interior designer, knowing what size art to buy can be tricky. A common mistake is to get art that is too small. If you want your wall to look balanced, keep in mind that a tiny piece on a large wall can throw the entire room off. But that might just be the effect you’re going for. Here is (A) the traditional guidelines for art sizes, and (B) my approach.

General Art Sizing Guidelines

Art Over Couches, Beds, and other Furniture

A. A general guideline is to choose art that is ½ – ¾ the width of the wall OR of the furniture it is being placed over. So if you have a couch that is 7 feet (84”) wide and want to hang one large statement piece above it, the art should be 42 – 63 inches wide.

B. My approach

How To Size Art For A Wall: Summer Storm No 2 above couch by Cattie Coyle Photography

Art over Fireplaces

Artwork hung over fireplaces usually look best when the art is as wide as the opening of the fireplace (regardless of the size of the mantel).

Art on Blank Walls

A. If you are hanging art on a blank wall, use the three eights rule.The “three eights” refers to the blank space you want on either side of the art, and to figure out what size art you need for that to happen, multiply the width of your wall with 0.57. So if your wall is 9 feet wide (108”), a piece around 60” wide would be the best fit.

B. My approach

How to size art for walls: Ocean Waves No 5 in living room by Cattie Coyle Photography

My Thoughts About Art Sizes

Break the Rules

The above are good and proportionally correct guidelines, but really, I should be the last person telling anyone to follow rules. As you may have noticed, I am not following them in any of the images above.

My feeling is, it’s your home and your art, and if you want to cover an entire wall from top to bottom with an enormous statement piece, do it! Or hang a tiny piece above a large couch. Off center. Put large framed art on the floor and lean it against the wall. Stack a few other pieces in front of it. Go with your gut. If something doesn’t look or feel right to you, change it around until it does.

I think displaying art can be as much of a statement and creative process as the art itself, and the only limit should be your own imagination.

But Try It Out First

Regardless of whether you go with the more exact measurements and guidelines or take my approach and decorate by feel, it’s a good idea to get a visual of what the result might look like before you start putting nails in the wall.

I like to use painters tape and outline the area on the wall where I’m thinking of placing the art to see how I feel about it. Or even better, cut a piece of paper the size of the art and tape it to the wall. To me, that’s the best way to get a feel for how the art size will work with the rest of the room.




Summer Storm No 2 - Oversized cloud art print by Cattie Coyle PhotographyOcean Waves No 5 - Large scale ocean art print by Cattie Coyle Photography

More on choosing art

Buying Art Online: Photo or Fine Art Paper? Canvas, Acrylic Glass or Metal Prints?
Home Decor Colors 2021: Mindfulness and Wellbeing

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    • It depends a little bit… Is it an empty wall? Are you hanging it above furniture? Are there other pieces on the wall? Ideally, the art should take up about 2/3 – 3/4 of the wall space, and if you are hanging it above furniture, follow the same rule, i.e., the art should be two thirds to three fourths smaller than the piece of furniture. For example, if you are hanging it above an 84” sofa, it should be 56 to 63 inches wide. So a 40×60-inch print would work well there. If it’s an empty wall, the art should be between 66 and 75 inches, so a 48×72-inch print would be a good fit. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • We have to put two long dressers side-by-side (no gap), which would make the length 11 feet, 6 inches.
    We would like to hang a 50 x 60 (inches) over these dressers.
    I believe the canvas is too small to be used alone and will probably need to be hung off-center.
    Where would I hang this canvas? Centered over the one dresser (vertically) and then put, say, something simple like a couple of large vases on top of the other dresser?

    • Good question! Let me first say that I’m not an interior designer, so these are just my personal ideas. 🙂 If we stick to the 2/3 sizing guidelines for art above furniture, you would need a piece that is around 88 inches wide. It sounds like your piece is 50 inches wide? If you place it in the middle, you could hang two smaller pieces of art on either side, or maybe 2 sculptural sconces to turn it into a “mixed media gallery wall” of sorts. If you want something less linear, you could always turn the entire wall into a gallery wall with a mix of framed art. Or you could place your piece over one of the dressers and like you say, put something large on the other to balance the space. I hope that helps!