If you don’t have the eye for design, you’ve probably not heard these rules before. Luckily, they’ll help you fake it until you develop that incredibly specific skillset.
Artwork should be hung at eye height
The general rule of thumb for how high artwork – particularly large wall artwork – should be hung is to center it at eye height. Obviously, for particularly large pieces of art that’s not always possible, but when it can be hung at eye height, that’s where it should go on the wall. The museum approach to this is to hang artwork 145 cm from the center of the piece to the floor.
When hanging artwork next to a table, keep in mind that this is a space for sitting – so artwork should be hung a bit lower to account for the fact that people will generally be sitting when they see it.
Cluster pieces of art
When you’re putting up several pieces of art on the same wall, treat the entire cluster of pieces as, well, a cluster. When you’re thinking of where it goes, think of where the center of the cluster is, rather than centering an individual piece. This rule of thumb applies particularly well when several pieces of art are similar sizes. When you’re using a single pieces that’s much larger than the others, you may choose to center the entire cluster based on the position of the largest piece.
As a rule of thumb, a grouping of artwork should be about 60% of the width of a sofa. The same would apply to mantles – and in both cases, you’ll want to hang artwork with the bottom of the artwork between 15 and 25 cm from the top of the furniture, especially when the pieces are on the smaller side. Other considerations come into play when using larger pieces of art of when hanging art next to a table.
Pick a focal point
It’s a common newspaper design rule of thumb, but it also applies to rooms. Every room should have a single focal point. Generally, most walls should also have a focal point. There should be something designed to be the first thing you look at when you walk into a room. That can take the form of an accent wall, artwork, or even a piece of furniture, but know going into designing a room what it is that you want people to see first. Keep in mind that from some rooms, the focal point may be on the wall behind the viewer as they walk in and provide a secondary focal point elsewhere.
Sometimes something will just look right. You don’t need a rule for this – but when that happens, follow that instinct. Rules won’t get you the whole way to designing a beautiful space.