SIZE MATTERS! Tips for selecting the right artwork

SIZE MATTERS! How to select the right artwork

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Colours of India diptych by Margaret Woolley

So you have created a lovely home – but still have lots of empty walls.

No matter whether it’s an original artwork or a canvas print, any designer will advise you that adding the right artwork to your room will enhance your décor, bring out the accent colours and complete the room.

Good artwork will often become an eye-catching focal point to any room.  The question is “how do you go about selecting the right art”?

Here are five simple steps you can follow to ensure you do make the right choice when it comes to art:

1    Size

When selecting art for any room – BIGGER IS BETTER!  There is one decorating mistake that we see all too often and that is artwork hung in lovely homes which is too small for the space that it’s sitting in.

How often have you been to a friend’s home and been invited to admire a small family photograph on a large wall.  Have you ever thought how lonely and small it looked on the wall?  When it is something personal like a family photo it is often difficult to look past the photo and see the “big picture”.  Is it really enhancing the room?  Should it be hanging on a more appropriate wall space better suited to its size and shape?

It’s disappointing to see lovely artwork hung in the wrong space.   Art that is too large will overwhelm a space, and art that is too small will look lost and out of proportion. There are generally other places in the home where the same painting would be much better suited.  People see a large wall and think “this will do to fill up the space”.  It won’t if it is too small for the wall space!

When looking for artwork, measure up the ideal size the painting needs to be and keep a note of the minimum size.  Art should be three-fourths the width of the furniture. When looking for artwork, don’t look at anything that is smaller than this minimum size.  No matter how much you love the artwork – don’t compromise on this! The artwork just won’t look right if it is not big enough for the wall.


Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 1: Picture too small for wall space

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 2: Picture perfect size for wall space

2    Shape

The second mistake people make in choosing the artwork is selecting the right shape artwork for the shape of the wall.  Tall, narrow walls work best with art which is a similar shape – referred to as portrait orientation.

Spaces above sofas, side boards or hall tables generally need a horizontal or landscape orientation.

Square shaped artwork needs to be placed centrally with an even amount of space around the artwork.

In looking at the overall wall space and working out the dimensions of the artwork you need, you should work on the artwork taking up two thirds to three quarters of the wall.

As stated above – think BIG!

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 3: Wrong Orientation

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 4: Correct Orientation


3    Colour

Stand back and take a good look at the room.  What colour(s) dominates the space?  If you haven’t finished decorating and putting in the final colour choices in cushions, curtains and accessories, then you have a wider choice to make in terms of colour in your artwork selection.

However, if your decorating is completed, you need to select one or two of the strongest colours in your room and look for art that has those colours in it.  You are not looking for an exact match here, but by picking up one or two of the same colours, it will send a message that the painting belongs in this environment.

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 5: Poor Colour Choice

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 6: Good Colour Choice

4    Style

This is totally a matter of preference.  There are no hard and fast rules here.  A traditional interior does not always require traditional artwork.  A show-stopping contemporary piece can make an impressive statement above a mantle in a traditionally styled living room.  Sometimes a contradiction is exciting and new. Think outside of the box.

Modern contemporary paintings look just as good in a traditional home as much as they do in a new building.

You need to consider where the artwork is being placed.  Artwork which is suitable as a “wow” piece in your entrance way, may not be right for a bedroom setting where you may need something quiet and restful.

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 8: Artwork right size, shape, colour and position

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 9: Artwork right size over drawers, matching colour scheme perfectly

5    Installation

Another mistake many home owners make once they have chosen their artwork is hanging it too high.

You need to be able to comfortably look at the artwork and shouldn’t have to peer upwards at your painting. Artwork should be hung so that the centre point of the painting is at eye level.  Bear in mind that the average height of a person is 177 cm.  If you live in a family of giants you may need to adjust your eye-height level to accommodate those who live there.

Artwork doesn’t need to be centred over furniture.  Sometimes offsetting it can create an interesting effect, especially if it is balanced by other decorating accessories.

And finally …

Always remember to buy art you love.  If you are lucky you will pick a winner and it may rise in value – but there are no guarantees to that.  Art should be enjoyed by everyone and complement your home.  Art needs to make you happy.

Selecting the right artwork - Mobile Art Gallery

Figure 10: Hang art so that the centre is at eye level