Placing & styling artworks


8min read

Once you have some artworks selected, ask yourself where you want them hung. Sometimes you’ll know straight away where it’ll work best, other times you’ll want to play around and try to place it in different areas around your home. This way you can see where it looks best and if it strikes an interesting dialogue with other neighbouring artworks. Either way, it’s good to be conscious of the surroundings and how the artworks will look once up and among a room of furniture and other framed artworks

In this guide we’ll break down the following topics:

Topic 1

Getting the artwork size and scale right

A work of art that fits perfectly in the space available can anchor the room, whilst an artwork in the wrong size can look shoddy

→ Small artworks: If an artwork turns out to be too small for a space it can easily get lost or overshadowed by other artworks in a space. A great resolution for this is to position a smaller artwork near a light switch or position it over a small bit of furniture, like a side table

→ Big artworks: If an artwork is too big for the space, it will overpower everything else in the room and look out of place. A resolution for this is to move the artwork to a key focal point and allow the size of it to command the look and feel of a room, like above a fireplace or over the top of a sofa

But this doesn’t mean you should discard an artwork that isn’t quite the right size. Remember, if you like an artwork, irrespective of the size or orientation, just buy it. There will always be a spot suitable for it somewhere and it’ll still give you a great sensation every time you see it

TIP: You can easily play around with the dimensions of the artwork before you buy and get the hammer involved, just take the measurement and cut pieces of paper that are the size as the artwork and then stick these on the walls as guides

Size and scale of walls

A really neat finish is to style an artwork on a wall that matches the same rough shape and orientation. For example, you could hang a narrow and rectangular artwork on a wall that is too. Alternatively, if you’ve got a nice wide wall, hang an artwork that is too

Size and scale of furniture

A nice trick is to use the scale of furniture closest to your art wall to help workout the overall surface area you want the artwork to command. A general rule is to select artworks (whether that’s one piece or multiple) that are around ⅔ the width of the furniture that it’s nearest to. This isn’t exact science, but it often works as a create starting point for you to play around with

Size and scale by room

→ Kitchen: The room is often left out and forgotten about as a space for art. But it’s actually really versatile as the countertops, shelving and above cabinets make for perfect spaces for smaller artworks to be lent against the wall. Whereas above the dining table offers the perfect space for a larger artwork to be hung. People often sway to kitchen artworks that reference food and drinks, but it’s great to break this mould and be more adventurous

→ Bedroom: This should be your place of zen and relaxation. So you may want to select works that reflect this. Softer colours and tones or even desaturated photography works really nicely here. You can go big above the headboard or smaller over the bedside tables, it all depends how much impact you want to create. Experiment with layer artworks of different heights that are on the floor and rested against the wall

→ Living room: This is the most common area to find artwork, but often also the most scary to decorate. As this is the room you’ll usually spend the most time and have the most visitors in, so you want to get the vibe just right. It offers a great opportunity to display artworks that provoke conversation, control the look of the space and are bold. It’s best to have at least one large-scale artwork or a medium to large scale gallery wall, then depending on the size of the room, other pieces can be dotted around

→ Home office: You want to be inspired in your office. Something that’s bold and expressive can really work well as it’ll help lift the space whilst keeping you energised. A great way to do this is by creating a rotating gallery. All you need is a floating ledge shelf over or next to your workspace. This way there’s no need for nails and you can keep adding and swapping out art and personal trinkets. See it as a mood board of sorts, add positive objects and works by artists who inspire you. To perfect this look overlap artworks that are of different sizes and orientations

→ Bathroom: This room often gets overlooked too. But it offers the perfect place to delve deeper, adding pieces that are fun and reflective of your personality. Why not go crazy with a floor to ceiling gallery wall, incorporating some tongue and cheek artworks mixed in with some family photography and interesting hung objects or mirrors. The more detail the better with this kind of maximalism approach. As mentioned before, you can even place an artwork behind the door so it’s hidden until someones using the throne

Get planning

We’ve got some handy equations to help you visualise where to hang your artworks and how many you need to keep both the room and artwork balanced. Start by identifying a possible home for the artwork to be hung and the follow these tips

Calculate the art-to-wall ratio

Here’s how to find out the total wall space you should use to keep a balanced look

Step 1: Take a tape measure and measure the total width of empty wall space
Step 2: Take the total width measurement and times it by 0.57 to get the total available hanging area
Step 3: Position the artworks you want to hang within the total available hanging area
Step 4: Align the artworks in the centre of the wall and add an even gap if needed

How to hang art prints at the right height

Now that you’ve calculated the correct width it’s time to workout the optimum height. A smart rule is to follow what the galleries do, as in general they position art comfortably at eye level, that way it has the best chance of catching the viewer’s eye. But consider the functionality of the room, because if people are always sitting down, you may want to adjust this to make the artwork more visible. The most common mistake is to position their artworks too high

Step 1: Measure the height by measuring 57″ from the floor up the wall.This is the ideal height for the centre of your framed artwork
Step 2: Measure the length of your frame and then half it, this is measurement A
Step 3: Measure the hanging fixture on the reverse to the top of the frame. If you have a picture wire, pull it to full tension to fake how it will hang, then measure this tension point to the top of the frame. This is measurement B
Step 4: Calculate the height by adding 57″ to measurement A and then subtract measurement B. This will give you the height measurement you want to put the nail in order for the center of the artwork to be at 57″

Hanging wall art above furniture

Hanging wall art above a sofa:

Step 1: Measure your sofa, as your wall art should be about 2/3 of its width
Step 2: Measure 6-8″ above your sofa
Step 3: Now you’ve got the perfect place for the bottom of your artwork to sit

Hanging wall art above a fireplace:

Step 1: Measure the width of your fireplace as your wall art should be at least 2/3 of its width
Step 2: Measure 4-12″ above the mantelpiece, this is the perfect height for the bottom of your wall art to sit

Hanging wall art above a staircase:

Step 1: Measure 57″ from the floor as this is where the centre of your first picture should sit
Step 2: Measure 57″ from every third step. This will form a diagonal line upon which the centre of each print should sit

Let’s sum this up

What matters ultimately when buying fine art prints or posters is that you buy something that resonates with you. It can complement the space, whether that’s through colour, size, scale, style or medium, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to. So don’t stress over it. Look for an artwork that draws you in, and don’t be overly clinical and worry too much about perfectly matching everything. If you’re thinking too hard or long about it, just relax, take a couple of deep breaths and go with your trusty gut