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Choosing the Right Specifications for Wall Art

Please note that the information contained in this blog is part of my complimentary consultation content. If you would like to receive assistance in this process, please CONTACT ME to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Note that the sample images used in this blog post are not mine.

STARTING POINT You can start from one of two places in this process:

  • You have an image (or group of images) you’re interested in: 1. find an appropriate space for it 2. select the appropriate size for the space

  • You have a space that needs to be filled: 1. determine which orientation and size is appropriate for the space 2. select an appropriately oriented image that arrests you and/or combines well with that space (it doesn't need to 'match') 3. verify the image can be produced in the needed size (if not listed, contact me for possible customization)

Once you’ve decided which place you want to start from, you can get into specifics for sizing and orientation.

SHAPE / ORIENTATION The selection of your image’s orientation should be based on the space you intend to hang it in. Will your image be hung:

  • Above a wide piece of furniture (i.e., sofa, bed) or in a clearly horizontal space (long hallway, etc.)? ~A horizontal (landscape orientation) or panoramic image should be chosen because it will automatically be visually associated with the furniture. **In this orientation, the image's bottom edge is longer than the side edge.

~Horizontal image: the image’s height by width ratio should be 2:3 and narrower than the furniture’s width (~50-80% —say 75% to make it easier).

~Panoramic image: the image’s width should be roughly the same width of the furniture (give or take just a little).

In a tall, skinny space (between two windows, in space with no furniture below it, on a tall wall above a fireplace, etc.)? ~A vertical (portrait orientation) image should be chosen because it will automatically be perceived as free-standing. **In this orientation, the image's side edge is longer than the bottom edge.

In a wide-open space, apart from furniture, etc.? ~You have the most freedom in this situation to work with the orientation (and even size) you’d like for effect. ~Considering what else is present, such as other wall décor (including other images) will help (you may want similar shapes and/or sizes for consistency).

SIZE **The most common mistake in purchasing wall art is selecting a size that’s much too small for the intended space. The piece ends up looking out of place, or the room feels barren. (1) How much attention do you want to draw with the image? Is it meant to be:

  • the room’s focal point? ~Size should be 'oversized' to arrest attention. 41+ inches (on either edge) – OVERSIZED This image size stands alone

~If you want a piece of furniture/feature to be the focal point, use 1-2 large image(s) to draw the attention there, which makes it feel more formal. 33-40 inches (in height and width) – LARGE

Creates a classic, polished look

  • just a complement to the room’s décor? ~Size shouldn't be too large, or it will steal attention from your intended focal point. *10-17 inches (in width and height) – MINI This image size stands alone or can be used in a collection *18-24 inches (in width and height) – SMALL This image size is most impactful in pairings/groupings Best in tiny rooms (like bathrooms) *25-32 inches (in width and height) – MEDIUM Personalizes a room without cluttering it

(2) How close/far will you be viewing the image from? Does the image have to be viewed:

  • Close-up (in a tight space like a hallway or bathroom, etc.)? ~Size should not be too large, or viewer won't be able to take in the whole image at once, (if desired). *10-17 inches (in width and height) – MINI *18-24 inches (in width and height) – SMALL​ *25-32 inches (in width and height) – MEDIUM

  • From a far (ex: on a very tall wall or across a large stairway, etc.)? ~Size should be very large, or viewer won't be able to see the image as a whole or appreciate the smaller details. It will be lost and/or unappreciated in the room. *41+ inches (on either edge) – OVERSIZED

  • Both close-up and from a far (in a large, open room, etc.)? ~They may approach to peek closer at a smaller detail but would likely return to a position in the space where they can comfortably view the image as a whole. Size should be based on whatever position would be the most likely for viewing the image. *25-32 inches (in width and height) – MEDIUM *33-40 inches (in width and height) – LARGE *41+ inches (on either edge) – OVERSIZED

Dimensions:

  • Your image should utilize 2/3-3/4 of your wall space. The bigger, the better (usually).

  • If you’re working with a smaller space, simply do a little math: Multiply your wall space (measured in inches) by 0.57 to get the size you need. (Example: a 24” wide wall space should house an image no wider than 13.5”.)

  • One piece may look lost in a narrow space, you could consider stacking 3 same-sized pieces for a more balanced look.

  • Size may be based on location & orientation of image.

  • See the SHAPE section above for more information.

HANGING & SPACING **The second most common mistake in wall art decisions is how high/low it’s hung.

  • Wall art being hung above furniture (sofa, table, bed, etc.) should be 6-12 inches above the top of the furniture, and 3-6 inches above a fireplace mantle.

  • Any wall art should be hung centered at eye-level. Most people that enter a space aren't exactly the same height, so you could use an average height of 5’6” to get the center height (60-65 inches from the floor). Your bottom edge shouldn't be 6 feet above the floor on a bare wall.

  • To hang pieces in a room with low ceilings (less than 8 feet tall), measure your wall in 4 quarters, and hang in the 3rd section up.

  • To hang pieces in a stairway, center a piece every 3 steps for a diagonal look.

If multiple pieces are being hung near each other, they should be equally spaced from each other for consistency. 2-3 inches between each (and around the entire grouping) is best.

  • If different-sized pieces are being hung together, line up the middles.

  • For gallery walls, larger/heavier pieces look more natural and appealing towards the left, since we read from left to right.

  • Off-centered images can provide an appealing effect if done appropriately!

Single Image Versus Collage (Grouped Images) If you want to group images, you can go different routes (but the overall size of the group should still equal the appropriate size if you were to select a single image, based on what we discussed earlier):

  • Select multiple images of the same size, and space them equally.

  • Select varying sizes for the different images for visual intrigue, and space them equally (they don’t necessarily have to line up along the edges if you don’t want, but the channels between should be equal as much as possible).

  • Group 3 or 5 images together for a more natural look, and space them equally.

  • Choose a triptych (pronounced 'triptik') print. NOTE: There are pros and cons to consider if you go this route:

TRIPTYCHS:A triptych can be made in a couple of different ways.

  • One image is broken apart into 3 separate prints to be placed very near each other (there are different size options, but they are most commonly equally sized)

  • 3 similar images (based on theme or subject) are placed very near each other to complement each other.

Compare & Contrast:

  • Triptychs can be made in small and large sizes.

  • Larger ones are more impactful and smaller ones integrate nicely with other décor.

Pros: They’re meant for high visual impact.

  • They can easily cover a lot of wall space—which is often the goal.

  • If a particular image is limited on how large it can be printed, getting three different images to combine in a triptych can make your wall art the size you want without the limitations.

  • They add aesthetic appeal as well as thought-provoking visualization.

  • They’re more unique than a single piece.

  • They’re considered luxury artwork (if done properly).

Cons:

  • Splitting the image and then hanging the pieces all requires a great deal of precision—especially if you’re going to include a gap between the pieces on the wall.

  • It may look strange with certain photographs—especially if they have more than one main element—or if the cut(s) would divide a main element into two or three pieces.

  • Hanging a triptych crookedly would be worse than having just one image.

  • The gaps must be identical in size and the images must be hung at the exact same level (all of the edges have to line up properly).

  • Triptychs don’t look super great with framed prints—which is unfortunate if you’re a frame-lover. You may be able to get away with a very thin frame, but a wider one wouldn’t look appealing in this case.


If you still have questions about the sizes, shapes, spacing, hanging, or grouping of your aesthetic wall art, or even my fine art nature photography images from my wall art boutique that would complement your space, please feel free to reach out via the CONTACT ME form on my website. I'd be happy to offer a free consultation.

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