Art Collecting 101, Topic 4: Choosing the right size art for your space

Art Collecting 101, Topic 4: Choosing the right size art for your space

You found art you love, now where is the best place to hang it? How can you tell which size is best for what space? How big should a piece of art be to hang over a mantle, bed, or sofa?

A good rule of thumb to follow is the art should take up 2/3 - 3/4 of the allotted space. Is that more than you thought? 

chair in denim over bench by jennifer allevato fine art

For example, if you are going to hang art above a king size headboard (which standardly measure 80 inches wide), the art should be at least 53" - 60" wide. But you can absolutely go bigger! 

What do you mean by allotted space?

Simply the open space available on the wall to hang art.

Let's say you have a king bed (80" wide) on a 13-foot wall. That's a big wall! But on either side of the bed, you have sconces hung above nightstands, and on one side of the room your closet door opens very near to the nightstand, making that area behind the door kind of hidden. So your allotted space isn't really the full 13-foot wall, it's really just space above the headboard, between the sconces. 

Example 2: Let's say you have a nook in your home 4 feet wide, with a 34" wide table in it. You could focus on just the space above the table, but it will make more a statement to focus on the whole nook! That means you're looking for art 32" - 36" wide. Yup, the art could be even bigger than the table in this case; you don't need to be limited by the size of the furniture below it.

3 prints over bed by jennifer allevato fine art

What if you have a piece you love for over your king bed, but it's only 48" wide?
What can I do if the art I have feels a little too small?

If you have a piece you love but it seems too small, you can try changing the frame to something bulker, add a wide mat around the piece and then frame it (if it's a work on paper or a photograph), or hang multiple pieces together in a grouping. When done correctly, multiple pieces of art hung together  - either as a set of 2 or 3 or even an entire gallery wall - will operate visually as a single piece of art. In order for a multi-piece grouping to work, the spacing between the pieces needs to not be too extreme: generally only a few inches apart or less is best. You can refer to my post here for more art hanging tips. 

Your home isn't an art gallery: you can hang wall art closer together than you might see in a commercial space or museum. If your gallery wall is spaced too far apart from one another, they'll look like they are floating instead of feeling grounded in the space.

Gallery grouping by jennifer allevato fine art

How tall can I go with my art?

As tall as you want!
Just make sure you hang the piece at a good height visually (i.e. not too high). Refer to this post here for hanging tips! 

In my book, it's only too big if you can't get it through the doorway. 

TL;DR: When in doubt, go larger!

Shop big art for your space.

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