Right-Sizing Your Art

You have a wall and want a new painting to grace the space. Simple enough. Before you #findart2love — or even the color or style — I recommend you first consider size. Why? It’s all about the impact — to your room and the artwork.

  • If the painting is too small, it will be dwarfed by the empty space around it.
  • If it’s too large, the painting will seem cramped and overwhelming to the viewer.

These “feelings” occur because human beings have an innate sense of balance and proportion. Less-than-ideal sizing and placement will just seem “off.”

Let’s test this: Here are some examples where the wall is roughly six feet wide — 72 inches. The rule of thumb is that artwork should be 50-66% (1/2 to 2/3) the width of the space. Vertically, the center of the painting should be at eye-level — the standard is 57” from center to the floor (but could be a few inches higher as needed).

What do we see here?

  • At 36 inches wide, Option A is 50% of the wall width. This leaves 18” on either side of the painting — very proportional dimensions.
  • Option B leaves less than 12 inches on either side. The space seems tight, but it could work with the right artwork (more bright, bold, etc.)
  • Option C just “looks” too small. With two feet of blank wall on each side, the presentation is not impressive. This size painting would have more impact in a different location. 

Knowing these rules, I would recommend the owner look for a painting that 36-40” wide. And because it will hang alone on a vertical wall, I would opt for a painting that has a square or portrait (vertical) orientation. ( I would save a horizontal painting to hang over a mantel or furniture).

This comparison makes it easy to understand how important it is to consider size first when selecting art for a special wall. Here are a few additional “rules of thumb” to think about:

  • If the artwork will hang over a sofa, table or chair, it should be about two-thirds the width of the furniture and hang 6-8 inches above it.
  • If the artwork is super tall (96” or more), ensure it’s about one foot above the floor.

Good luck in you quest to #FindArt2Love!