a living room that displays how to arrange wall art in living room

How to Arrange Wall Art in the Living Room Like a Pro

Wondering how to arrange your wall art in the living room like an Interior Designer? While it’s really not that complicated, so many people simply hang artwork up to fill wall space (without giving the placement much thought).

But you’re here, reading this article, so you’re obviously putting more thought into it than most!

Does the idea of arranging your artwork perfectly — while reflecting your personal style — have you stressed?

In today’s post, I’m going to share some pro tips to help you arrange your artwork on the living room walls, and then I’ll answer a few common questions about decorating them.

If you’re ready, let’s get started!

 

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Tips to Arrange Wall Art in the Living Room

Consider the following pro tips on how to arrange wall art in the living room, and you’ll have beautifully styled walls in no time.

 

1. Center Images at Eye Level

Hanging pictures too high is a common mistake that I see in quite a few homes.

The general rule of thumb is to hang images on the wall so that their centers are at eye level. But since we’re usually sitting down in the living room, you might want to hang them slightly lower.

When hanging a picture above the sofa, try hanging it so that the bottom is one hand width above the top of the sofa’s back. If it doesn’t look quite right, you can always adjust it slightly upward, but try not to go too much higher than that.

 

2. Consider Scale When Choosing Wall Art

If you think about it, one small piece of artwork would look pretty silly on a large wall. On the other hand, a huge work of art would completely overwhelm a wall that isn’t much bigger than it.

Having pieces that are too big or small usually look pretty odd. That’s why considering scale is so important when choosing wall art.

If you’re hanging a painting or arrangement of photos above the sofa, make sure it’s at least two-thirds the size of the sofa, like that in the photo below.

 

sofa with a painting above it
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

 

3. Level the Centers (NOT Tops or Bottoms)

Hanging artwork on different walls in the living room? You might be wondering if you should try to line up the tops or the bottoms of each piece…

The answer: neither.

When hanging multiple wall hangings around a room, level the CENTERS of the pieces. Remember (from point #1 above), they should be centered at eye level.

 

three pictures hanging level with the centers
Image by BUMIPUTRA from Pixabay

 

Pro Designer Tip: As you’ll see in the some of the following examples, not every individual piece in the same “grouping” is centered at eye level, and that’s totally fine! The idea is that the center of either a single image or the center of a “grouping” should be at the same height throughout a room.

 

4. Mix Frames on a Gallery Wall

When arranging a gallery wall, consider mixing it up with different frames. Change it up with different styles and colors.

If you don’t like how the frame colors look together, you could always spray paint them any color you like so they all match, while still being different sizes and styles.

 

5. Match Frames for a Symmetrical Look

Prefer a more symmetrical look? Buy matching frames and arrange them into a symmetrical gallery, like the one pictured below.

 

gallery wall of matching, symmetrical framed photos
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

 

6.  Lay Out the Arrangement of Gallery Pieces First

One of the most important tips on how to arrange wall art in the living room? If you’re creating a gallery wall, lay it out FIRST to see how it looks — before you start to hang the individual pieces on the wall.

An easy way to do that: Trace each piece on kraft paper, label it, and cut it out. If you’re hanging portraits, draw arrows on the kraft paper indicating which way the subject is looking.

You can lay it out of the floor first if you’d like. Then, when arranging the kraft paper pieces on the wall, attach them with painter’s tape.

 

Pro Designer Tip: Position the most prominent piece so that it’s centered at eye level, then work your way outward.

 

7. Hang Art Above the Fireplace the Same Width as Its Opening

If you have a fireplace and you’ve been wondering what to hang above it, look for something that is a similar size width to the opening of the fireplace.

 

fireplace with a mirror above it
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

 

Likewise, if you’re hanging a grouping of art, the grouping should be approximately the same size as the fireplace’s opening.

 

8. Arrange Multiple Pieces in Odd Numbers

In Interior Design, the rule of three states that “things arranged in odd numbers are more visually appealing to the human eye.”

So groupings of three or five items are often more appealing to the eye than even numbers. However, that doesn’t mean that you should never group things in even numbers.

I have a couple tips coming up for even numbered groupings, as well.

 

9. Follow Spacing “Rules” With Multiple Pieces

If you’re hanging four or more even-numbered pieces into a square or rectangular shape, keep spacing between them EVEN and TIGHT.

Normal spacing is approximately 4-6 inches, but tight spacing is 1-2 inches — and tighter spacing looks better in this instance.

 

arrangement of four framed photos
Photo by Вахтбович Максим from Pexels

 

10. Hang Vertically With a Group of Three

If you want to hang up three pieces that are the same size, it usually looks best when each piece is hung vertically, centered along an imaginary horizontal line.

 

group of three pieces hanging vertically

 

11. Stagger Artwork for Asymmetrical Balance

If you have two pieces of artwork, stagger them to create asymmetrical balance, especially if they are different sizes or if they have a different subject matter or color scheme.

Staggering, or hanging one lower than the other, works best for larger art pieces.

 

staggered artwork
Image by BUMIPUTRA from Pixabay

 

12. Use an Imaginary Vertical Line When Hanging 4 or More Pieces

Grouping 4+ pieces that are different sizes? Anchor them on an imaginary vertical line, ensuring that they are visually balanced on both sides of said line.

If there is more weight on one side of the line, it will look “unbalanced”.

Just make sure that all pieces in the grouping have some similarity, whether that’s the color scheme or subject matter, or even the style of frame.

 

grouping of photos with an imaginary vertical line drawn over them

 

Pro Designer Tip: “Balanced” doesn’t necessarily mean perfectly symmetrical, like in the photo above, but each side of the vertical line should have the same amount of “weight” (if that makes sense!).

 

13. Try Layering Different Sized Pieces

There are a couple of different ways you can layer different sized pieces of artwork.

The first option is to hang the frames using pegs and string, like you can see here, then to layer them from biggest (in the back) to smallest (in the front).

The other option is to hang ledge shelves like these, then to simply set all of the pieces on the ledge, layering them with the smallest pieces in the front.

 

ledges decorated with pictures and home decor
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

 

How to Arrange Art on a Wall When the Couch is Not Centered

So, do you center your art on the wall…or on the couch?

When the couch isn’t centered on a wall, center artwork over the couch, NOT the wall. If you center a piece (or grouping) on the wall, but the couch is off-centered, it will look out of balance.

 

Related: How to Decorate a Slanted Wall in the Living Room

 

How to Hang Pictures in a Group

Hanging pictures in a group? For your convenience, here is a recap of the points we covered above.

 

  • center the grouping at eye level
  • level the centers, not tops or bottoms
  • both mixing and matching frames is okay
  • lay out your arrangement first
  • a grouping above the fireplace is the same size as the opening
  • odd numbers are more visually appealing
  • hang images in a group of three vertically
  • stagger two pieces for asymmetrical balance
  • create balance on either side of an imaginary vertical line
  • layer different sized pieces

 

Should You Decorate Every Wall in a Room?

Decorating every wall in a room will make the space feel too busy (aka cluttered). “Negative space” plays an important role in Interior Design. It allows the eyes to rest.

Balance is key when it comes to wall decor!

 

Now that you know how to arrange your wall art in the living room like a pro, it’s time to get started! If you take these tips into consideration, you’ll have a beautiful home in no time.

 

Thinking about painting your living room? Read this guide on how to choose a color palette for any room in your home.

 

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