Living Room Artwork

What to Use, Where to Use It, and How to Make it All Work Together

Living Room Photo Wall. Lauren Flanagan

No living room is complete without art. Having said that, what one person considers art can vary drastically from another. What most people can agree on is that no room is complete without something on the walls.

Types of Art

Art doesn't have to be expensive. While collectors may be willing to spend thousands on a single piece, you can decorate your walls for very little money. Ideas include:

  • Frame children's artwork
  • Keys, jewelry, silverware or other mementos mounted in shadow boxes
  • Frame wallpaper or fabric samples
  • Frame pages from old books
  • Washi tape art


Where to Hang Living Room Artwork

Above the Sofa

When it comes to living rooms people love to hang art over the sofa. But the number one mistake people make is to use a piece that's too small. The piece of art should be about two-thirds the width of the sofa. If you're hanging a group of pieces the same rule generally applies (unless you're doing a larger photo wall). Just be sure that the space between each frame is the same - approximately 2" to 3". If you're absolutely determined to use a small piece of art, put it in a large frame so that it's still in proportion to the sofa.

Over a Mantle

Mantles require special consideration due to their height. It's best to hang art 4 to 12" above, depending on the height of the mantel. If the mantel is four feet or taller, then hang 4 to 6" above. If the artwork is taller than three feet, lean it on the mantel for a more casual effect.

Either Side of a Window

If you have drapes on the windows make sure you've got enough room between the drapes and the walls so the art doesn't look too crowded. Make sure you've got at least 4-6" on each side.

Wherever you're hanging art make sure it isn't too high. The center point of any piece or grouping should be at eye level. No one should have to crane their neck to look at it.

Tips for Photo Walls and Grids

Art always creates an impact when several pieces are hung together. Here are some tips on how to make different types of groupings work.

  • Always plan out a photo wall in advance. Place the pieces on the ground in front of the wall and play around with the arrangement until you find one that satisfies you. If space doesn't allow for this use graph paper.
  • When hanging several pieces together think of them as one unit. (Again, the center of the entire display should be at eye level.)
  • In a photo wall it's important to have a focal point. A large piece in the center of a wall acts as an anchor for any display. Other pieces can be randomly hung around it and it will still look as though it was well thought out.
  • If you're making a proper grid it's vital that pieces be hung at exact distances from one another. As soon as one is off by even a 1/4" it will be noticeable.
  • In a grid, use all the same frames for an organized look, or use frames that are the same size but different colors to mix things up. In a grid it's also ideal to use photos and mattes that are all the same size.

When it comes to living room art the ideas are quite literally endless. While the above guidelines are there to help create pleasing displays, there are no hard and fast rules. For more ideas check out this collection of living room art ideas.