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How to Choose the Best Size Artwork for in Your Home

When considering the décor for a room, art size—whether it is a photo or artwork—is something to take into consideration. A correctly sized art piece can make the room look complete and balanced, but a piece that is too large or too small can look out of place. So, how do you determine the best size for your room? Here are some guidelines to help you choose the perfect size for you space.

Go Larger!

The perfect size is often larger than you think. When you are at a store or gallery looking a piece you like, it often looks big in the store but when you get it home on the wall it looks much smaller. Smaller pieces will look disproportional to larger furniture and space. So how do you determine the size it should be? Placement and arrangement are key factors.

Over Furniture or Fireplace Mantles

Hanging a picture over a sofa or fireplace mantle are some of the most popular places to hang artwork. These are some of the places where we often make the mistake of going too small. When artwork hangs over a sofa or other large furniture, the art pieces should take up about 3/4th of the width of the furniture and should be hung about 8-10 inches above the top of it. Over a fireplace mantle the art should be the same width as the fireplace opening no matter what the size of the mantle is.

Open Walls

On open walls where the art piece is not directly over a piece of furniture, again, think big! You don’t want your art to get lost on a large empty wall. It is recommended to use the 3/8th rule to calculate what the best size should be for you wall. How the 3/8th rule works is it says you should leave 3/8th of the width of your art piece on each side. How do you figure that out? It is not as hard as it sounds. Just measure the width of your wall and multiply it by 4/7th or .57 and that will give you the ideal width your art should be for your wall.

Example if you have a 60-inch wall you would want a 34-inch-wide art piece. (60 X .57 = 34.2)

The artwork should also fit the shape of the wall. This concept is easy enough to follow: if your wall is narrow, find an art piece that is a portrait format (taller then it is wide), if the wall is wide, use a landscape format (wider then it is long).

Arrangement: Single Piece or Grouping?

The decision to use a single art piece or a grouping of pieces an have an impact on the feel of the room, or it may be just what is practical. A single large art piece over a sofa or mantle will draw the attention to that piece and will have a more formal feel to it. Therefore, you may not want to put a large piece over both the sofa and fireplace in the same room because they would compete for attention.

Gallery walls or groupings can work well to create a warm casual feel in a room. When you create a Gallery or grouping, use the same guidelines to determine the ideal size for the space, then fill that space with your group of art pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cucullate out your space then lay it out on the floor first to arrange the smaller pieces in the larger space. Keep the space between each piece about equal to create a balanced white space in between the artwork.


Hallways are an exception to the bigger-is-better guideline unless the art piece is at the end of the hall, viewed looking down the hall. A hallway is normally only 3 or 4 feet wide so hanging a large piece in a hallway makes it hard to view. You can never get far enough back to take in the entire piece. I recommend small and intimate in a hallway, keeping pieces 11X 14in. or smaller. Gallery walls work well in hallways.

So, as you consider the artwork you would like to display in your home, or as you consider purchasing portraits, take some time to think about a few critical things: what atmosphere do you want to create (casual or formal)? How much space do you have? Do you want one piece of artwork to be the central focus, or do you want an arrangement of several pieces? Answering these questions and using the guidelines I’ve listed here will help you create a room that feels balanced and lets your artwork shine.

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