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.
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