Arranging Art Around Furniture


When moving into a new home, or when redecorating the old one, it is important to consider the placement of furniture before hanging or displaying art. One of the most crucial factors in home decorating is balance, and to achieve the appropriate balance, you should be educated about placement of artwork.

Have you ever walked into the home of a friend and wondered, “Why is that painting hung so low?” or, “Why did they put that sculpture in the middle of the wall?” When decorating your own home, you might not think about these subtle changes in arrangement of art, but when an outside walks in, the mistake will be glaringly obvious. With that in mind, follow these guidelines for balancing artwork around furniture in your home.

Painting & Prints

Paintings and prints should always be framed. This captures the piece with a definitive edge rather than allowing the canvas or paper to blend into the wall. Choose the frame according to the colors in the picture as well as the colors in your decor, allowing for continuity in each room of your house.

When it comes to wall space, determine how much room exists between the top of your furniture and the ceiling. For example, if you want to hang a painting above your living room couch, measure the distance from the top of the couch to the ceiling. Use approximately 65% of that space for your painting, but no more. There should be definite wall space from the edge of the picture to any other object – ceiling or furniture.

After you’ve determined the wall space to be filled, it is important to hang the painting closer to the couch (or other furniture) than to the ceiling. The purpose of decorating is to lend a sense of continuity and connectedness to all pieces of the room – whether it be furniture or artwork. Breaking that contact will make the painting seem obtrusive and unwelcome in the room.

Measure about eight inches above the furniture, and that is where the bottom of the painting should sit. If you put it too close to the furniture, it will impede the ability to use it. For example, a painting hung directly above a couch will eliminate the ability to put your arm over the couch.

Sometimes, you will want to hang paintings or prints in groups on the wall. This is a great way to counter-balance heavy furniture and to create a sense of connectedness in the room. Be careful, however, that the art is evenly spaced, and that it doesn’t through the room off-balance. For example, if you hang three pictures at random, it might make the room feel “tilted” in one direction or another.


Sculptures are different than paintings because they sit on the floor or on tables, rather than hanging from the walls. Still, an improperly placed sculpture can throw the entire room out of wrack, so you should think about the placement just as carefully as you consider paintings.

First, look at your sculptures and determine which are vertical and which are horizontal. A vertical sculpture is taller than it is long; horizontal sculptures are short and wide. Horizontal sculptures are more difficult to place because if set alone, they leave too much empty wall space above them. With horizontal sculptures, it helps to place them below a painting or other artwork to off-set the emptiness.

Sculptures should be worked around furniture rather than the other way around. Artwork is meant to accent other things in a room, and not to call undo attention to itself. If you place a sculpture alone on a wall, regardless of how large or how beautiful, it will upset the balance in the room.

Fireplaces are a great way to place horizontal sculptures. It makes an already beautiful fireplace into a focal point for the room, but can also blend into the background amid couches, beds, chairs and entertainment centers. Horizontal sculptures also work well at the edge of rooms not separated by a wall. For example, if your living room is connected to your kitchen by nothing more than a change in flooring, you might place a sculpture between the two for definition.

A vertical sculpture can be placed between furniture, as it is tall rather than wide. For example, if you have both a love seat and a couch, place a vertical sculpture between the two, facilitating a corner. You can also place them atop end-tables for added aesthetic value. Vertical sculptures work well beneath floor lamps, as well. When the lamp is turned on, the sculpture has a spotlight.

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