How big is TOO big? Getting the proper sized artwork for your wall

How big is TOO big? Getting the proper sized artwork for your wall

When shopping for artwork, size is nearly as important as the composition of the image. Wall art of an inappropriate size can either overwhelm a room or allow the room to overwhelm the art, neither of which is aesthetically pleasing.

For most would-be art buyers, art is both a passion and an investment, and when it comes to the latter, you should take the time to buy something that’s perfect for your home. Here are a few tips on choosing the best sized art for your home.

1. Measure your space

Measure the length and width of the wall where you want to hang the artwork. If it is going over a bed, couch or other piece of furniture, only measure the open wall space, from the top of the furniture to the ceiling rather than from floor to ceiling.

2. Above furniture? Start with this rule

As a standard, wall art hung over furniture should be less than 75 percent of the width of the furniture; for example, a painting over an 84-inch-long sofa should be 63 inches wide or less. Artwork hung over a fireplace tends to look best when the painting is as wide as the opening of the fireplace (no matter the size of the mantel).

3. Follow the three-eighths rule

When working with an otherwise empty wall, the general rule is to choose a piece that will leave empty space in the amount of three-eighths of the width of the painting on each side.

This means that you can determine the perfect size artwork by multiplying the width of the wall by 0.37; for example, a blank wall that is 120 inches wide requires a painting that is around 44 inches wide.

When working with nonstandard-shaped artwork (like a circle), use the widest point of the piece. With this same example wall, a circular canvas would need to be 44 inches in diameter to work on a 120-inch-wide wall.

"How big is TOO big? Getting the proper sized artwork for your wall" by Yuri A Jones

4. Don't forget the frame!

Factor frame size into your choice. This isn’t necessary when working with unframed canvases; however, even a moderate 2-inch frame will add 4 inches of width to your new painting, altering the ratio between the artwork and the size of the wall.

5. Visualize using cutouts

To see what will look best, make cardboard cutouts in several heights and the predetermined width. Hold these against the wall to see what looks best. You could also use newspaper cutouts or whatever else you have on hand.


The saying “rules were meant to be broken” applies here. The tips above are simply guidelines to help you on the art-buying journey. But in the end, no formula should dictate your choice in artwork. Let your heart be your final guide!

"How big is TOO big? Getting the proper sized artwork for your wall" by Yuri A Jones


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