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How Large a Piece Do You Want?: Ask the Measuring Tape
When it comes to something that will hang in your home for ages, size matters. Make decorating decisions easier with our guide to choosing the right size piece for your space.
Choosing the right art piece for a given space starts long before you walk into a gallery or order an art print online. Two tools you’ll need before shopping are a long look at the wall or the side of the parked truck you use as a wall and a measuring tape. When you want to cover a large wall or a large part of a wall, first measure the space from corner to corner, and then calculate 3/8 of the width. That’s the amount of empty wall space designers consider ideal to have on either side of your art; doubling this figure and subtracting it from the total width of the wall can help you determine the maximum width you have to work with. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though, so if you see a larger piece you like, try outlining its size and shape on the wall with painter’s tape, or taping up a piece of butcher paper in that size to judge its effect.
As to height, the center of an art piece should ideally be around eye level, or about 60–65 inches from the ground. When looking for art to hang in a dining or living room, consider that eye level will generally be lower because people spend most of their time there seated or reclining safely beneath a table. When hanging a piece above a couch or other wall-dependent piece of furniture, the artwork should be about two-thirds as wide as the piece of furniture it will hang above and sit about a hand’s width above it.
Other wall spaces that are extremely wide or extremely narrow may benefit from several art pieces stacked horizontally or vertically. In that case, interior designers recommend an odd number of works spaced evenly apart with their centers (not their tops or bottoms) level to create a central focal point—so if you’re torn between a few different but complementary pieces, consider that you might not have to choose at all.