How to Decorate Above a Sofa

gallery wall above a sofa

The Spruce / Laura Genevieve

The empty space above a sofa is a prime spot in the house for a great piece of art. In fact, it's comparable only to space above a mantel. That being said, it's sometimes difficult to determine what type of art should be hung.

While most people stick with the traditional solution of hanging a single painting or photograph above a sofa, when it comes to choosing something to display over a sofa, you have so many options. So get creative and choose to feature something you love.

1. Display Bold Artwork

The most common thing to put on a sofa is a single piece of artwork, but if the artwork is bland the impact will likely be minimal. If you really want to create an eye-catching focal point, a bold piece that practically jumps off the wall is the way to go.

Try something very large in size, vibrant in color, or graphically appealing in design. Ultimately, the term "bold" is open to interpretation, but the idea is that when a person walks into the room their eye is immediately drawn to the piece because it's so striking. 

2. Create a Gallery Wall

Sometimes one piece just isn't enough. This is when gallery walls can really save the day. A photo gallery can allow you to create a really dramatic impact and it saves you from having to choose just one piece.

Remember, when hanging pieces to create a gallery wall, all of the items together will act as one unit. The center of the entire display should be at eye level. It's always best to plan this type of display before you start hanging. 

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.

3. Display a Macrame Wall Hanging

Macrame, a textile made of knots, has made a comeback in recent years. Originally popular in the 1970s, macrame made a resurgence in the late 2010s in the form of planters, earrings, table runners, and wall hangings. Pieces can be large and intricate or simple enough you can DIY-it yourself.

Anyone with a colorful living room should consider a macrame wall hanging for behind the sofa; the knotted creation will create a nice focal point, but its neutral-colored cord won't add any clashing colors to the room. Macrame hangings can also add a pop of color, if you choose one with a colorful ombré fringe.

Try using one large one above a sofa for a stylish focal piece, or display a few smaller ones together to create an even bolder impact.

4. Mount Mirrors Above the Sofa

Mirrors are important decorative tools. They reflect light, they open up spaces, and they make rooms look better and larger in general. Above a sofa can be a great place to hang a large mirror, but keep in mind that, whenever possible, mirrors should be hung across from windows or something else that's visually appealing.

Don't hang a large mirror over a sofa simply because it's an empty space and you happen to have one. Make sure it works with everything else in the room. That said, you can certainly hang a series of small mirrors together over a sofa to create a gallery feel. Like with any photo wall, treat them as one unit when deciding on placement and carefully consider size, shape, and the finish of the frames.

6. Hang Floating Shelves

As homes get smaller, storage becomes more and more important, and people are starting to use every available bit of space to display their trinkets and treasures. Shelving placed above a sofa can be a great way to solve a storage issue and creatively display your accessories. Floating shelves are a great option, as are shelves with attractive brackets. Make sure they're installed correctly (directly into a stud) so they don't fall on anyone sitting on the couch.

When installing shelves, hang at eye level—or in the case of a grouping, the center of the group should be at eye level. You can choose to center the shelves above your sofa or try an asymmetrical arrangement. You can also combine shelves with additional sconces and artwork for an eclectic look.

7. Mount a Sculpture Above a Sofa

Hanging sculptures made up of interesting materials and shapes can be ideal for creating unique, one-of-a-kind looks. The term sculpture is very broad, but basically, it encompasses any item that isn't a traditional piece of art (i.e. painting or photograph).

Some examples include faux antlers, ceramic plates, or punched metal sculptures. The key here is to look for pieces that don't have a lot of depth so they won't infringe on the space out over the sofa.

8. Display Maps

Maps are a fantastic way to add a sense of history to a room. They're also great for paying homage to the places you've been or dream to go. When it comes to decorating with maps, you have so many options: colorful, black and white, sepia toned, new, vintage, city, country, transit, nautical...and the list goes on.

You can find maps in home decor stores, antique shops, flea markets, or even take them from old atlases and other books. The key is to choose a map that is meaningful to you in some way. Maps often look best when framed, so if yours doesn't come with one, consider having a custom frame made for your piece.


When hanging anything above a sofa, keep in mind that the number one mistake people make is to hang something that's too small. The piece, whatever it may be, should generally be about two-thirds the width of the sofa (unless you're opting for something purposely over-scale). If you're hanging a group of pieces, the same suggestion generally applies. Other than that, the rules are pretty loose, so be creative and choose something that speaks to you and makes you smile