Why does size matter? An expert guide on how to choose the right size art for your space

Art comes in many forms, with one of the most popular for interior design being wall art or hanging art. Whether you have purchased a unique one-of-a-kind painting, a framed print, a canvas piece or a photograph—it is important to have a level of understanding of the importance of a scale based design scheme within an interior space to optimise the visual effect of your chosen art. United Interiors, prides itself on making art accessible in a range of convenient sizes which allows customers to embrace their creativity however they please. If you need help in your decision making process in regard to what size art you should purchase for a particular space in your home—here is our expert guide on why size does matter in the art world.

Consider your space.

A main component of art is its general power to make an impact on an audience by getting that audience to respond to the piece in a particular way that is personal to them. There is something about more large-scale art that has the ability to affect our visceral senses and emotion more than art that is meek or subservient. This means as a general rule in the art world—bigger is more often than not better—remember that when choosing art for your space.

Many interior designers can aid you in choosing the right size art for your space, however, a common mistake that is made is people opt for smaller pieces that can tend to get lost in larger rooms. This is underwhelming for your space and the arts intended audience. There are many elements to purchasing and displaying arts—the selection process and then the hanging process which can be quite in-depth too. You want to ensure that after you have hung your piece you are happy with the end result. The key is your room should never feel barren after hanging your art. For expansive open plan living rooms or large dining rooms for example opt for the largest possible piece that can be seen from all corners of the room.

Factor in furniture.

Be sure to take into consideration how much furniture and the type of furniture you have in this space. If you have a more minimal design where furniture pieces are sparse then an oversized or large piece of artwork will fill up the visual field as furniture might. Ultimately, hanging art should be at least 15 centimetres above the edge of your furniture. If you have low profile furniture you can opt for a larger piece. If your furniture has more height you may need to choose a shorter canvas piece to make this look balanced.

Contemplate your ceiling height.

Consider how high the ceilings are in your chosen rooms. If you have a grand entrance with two-storey ceilings for example your possibilities with size are endless. For rooms with high, voluminous ceilings—incorporate a grand painting—and for rooms with lower ceilings often found in apartments—a shorter piece or a canvas with a landscape orientation will be a better choice. This way you can still opt for a large width piece rather than a piece that has more height. The takeaway message here is that when in doubt, play it safe and go big. This is especially important for more contemporary or modern art which you want to make a statement or impact with.

Measurements guide.

Below are some of the sizes available at United Interiors—broken down into square, portrait and landscape sizings. As discussed, the orientation and shape of the painting, canvas or print itself can impact your choice in size. The below measurements should be used as a general guide as sizes may vary depending on your chosen art form.

Square

60cm x 60cm (24″ x 24″)
85cm x 85cm (34″ x 34″)
100cm x 100cm (40″ x 40″)
120cm x 120cm (48″ x 48″)
140cm x 140cm (56″ x 56″)
160cm x 160cm (64″ x 64″)

For square art, opt for the 160cm x 160cm (64″ x 64″) or 140cm x 140cm (56″ x 56″) for larger rooms, expansive entrances or dining areas. Bedrooms, nurseries and bathrooms can vary in size, therefore, you should size this up in accordance with your existing space as sometimes the largest choice can be overwhelming in a smaller space of this nature.

Portrait

50cm x 70cm (20″ x 28″)
70cm x 100cm (28″ x 40″)
90cm x 120cm (36″ x 48″)
100cm x 140cm (40″ x 56″)
120cm x 160cm (48″ x 64″)

Portrait shaped artwork is another extremely popular way for artists to shape their work, with many contemporary artists making abstract pieces including vibrant colours and textures with the aim to be a major focal point in your home. Many portrait shaped pieces should be appreciated in large format. This is why for your main living room, open plan areas within the home, entrances and any large multipurpose rooms—opt for the 120cm x 160cm (48″ x 64″) to have the maximum effect on your intended audience.

Landscape

70cm x 50cm (28″ x 20″)
100cm x 70cm (40″ x 28″)
120cm x 90cm (48″ x 36″)
140cm x 100cm (56″ x 40″)
160cm x 120cm (64″ x 48″)
200cm x 150cm (79″ x 59″)

With landscape pieces, the width of the art will be wider than some of the previous options—therefore, this needs to be considered depending on the space you have available on your chosen wall. Oversized landscape artwork is fantastic for main living rooms, expansive bedroom suites, entrances and dining areas. The sizes 200cm x 150cm (79″ x 59″), 160cm x 120cm (64″ x 48″) and 140cm x 100cm (56″ x 40″) are also great for any open plan living spaces.

Don’t forget!

It’s important to note that because many peoples homes vary in size dramatically, a piece that looks fantastic in the entrance of a grand acreage home, will not necessarily work as well in an inner city apartment’s entrance (as this may not even exist). Think about your space logically and basically go as large as you can in your biggest rooms or space to create maximum impact.

Your chosen wall.

Your available wall size is important to consider—measure this up and note down the numbers prior to browsing for your new piece. Having the dimensions of your wall noted down will give you a head start and keep you on track to finding a piece that is right for your chosen wall. After all, there’s nothing worse than falling in love with a piece of art that is only available in one size which may get lost in your existing space because it’s too small. The orientation of your wall is another important factor that must be considered as artwork chosen in the same orientation of the chosen wall will work best. For example a long, wide wall will work best with a landscape piece of art. Tall, thinner wall space will work best with artwork created in a more vertical shape—such as a portrait or vertical orientation piece.This is usually found in entrances, open plan living spaces and multipurposes spaces.

Tip: your artwork should take up two-thirds to three-fourths of the wall based on the overall walls dimensions. Don’t forget to factor in framing as standard frames are not very thick, but if you want a custom thicker frame this will take up additional space on your chosen wall.

Walls and furniture combinations.

Walls above sofas in main living rooms or walls adjacent to dining tables work best with landscape orientation art—as furniture may change the dimensions of the available visual space and this needs to be catered for. Your chosen art should never be engrossed by large furniture as this will overpower your art and take away from its appeal. The art you select for your wall with furniture on it (whether that be a sofa, bed, dining table, mantel etc.) should be three-fourths the width of the furniture and hung 6″-12″ above the top. If you can’t get this exact, that is absolutely fine and be prepared because this rule won’t work perfectly every time. However, a “close enough” approach is acceptable and will give you a visually appealing end result.

Tip: at times an off-center piece brings wonderful visual interest to a wall in your home, but when you are confused about sizing for a wall with furniture—don’t forget the above rule.

Smaller spaces.

Just because you live in an inner city apartment and don’t have huge spaces in your home doesn’t mean you need to shy away from larger pieces. You may need to opt for the second or third largest option available to ensure it fits on your chosen wall effectively (which understandably may have smaller dimensions). Make choices of oversized artwork that are relative to your space, not somebody else’s. Introducing large pieces of art into your smaller home can create the illusion of the space being larger than it actually is too. Just ensure you have enough floor and roof clearance with your chosen piece as you don’t want it to be sitting too high or too low on your wall as this will look imbalanced. Despite their smaller nature, micro-apartments still offer plenty of room for you to feel free to experiment with creative solutions. Choosing to feature one big statement piece is a great way to add character to your small apartment and show your guests that you are not afraid of taking interior design risks. Don’t be afraid to go big or bold even if you don’t think you have the space!

Gallery wall rules.

When it comes to choosing art, sometimes your favourite pieces may only be available in one size or they’ve been with you for a long time and you want to incorporate the smaller pieces in a way where they won’t get lost on a wall. Some people aren’t content with a singular piece either as they love and want to showcase multiple pieces at the same time, in this case your answer is creating a gallery wall in your home.

Gallery walls tend to look the most appealing when they feature pieces of art of varying sizes. As a general rule choose 1-3 larger pieces of art, which shouldn’t be confused with the largest available sizes of artwork. The idea of a gallery wall is to create one cohesive art display with multiple pieces—so unless you have an extraordinarily large wall in your home—1-3 pieces that are 140cm x 100cm (56″ x 40″) will be too large for the gallery wall. Your large art pieces should be mid range in the size guide above. Fill the remainder of the gallery wall with ‘medium’ and ‘smaller’ sized art pieces (the first 1-2 smaller sizes in the guide above).

Tip: avoid picking all vertical or all horizontal pieces—mismatched orientations tend to look more appealing.

See a size example below for an effective gallery wall:

  • 2 x 90cm x 120cm (36″ x 48″) PORTRAIT PIECES.
  • 4 x 60cm x 60cm (24″ x 24″) SQUARE PIECES.
  • 2 x 70cm x 50cm (28″ x 20″) LANDSCAPE.
  • 3 x 60cm x 60cm (24″ x 24″) PORTRAIT PIECES.

The above is just a rough guide, there really aren’t too many rules when it comes to creating a gallery wall, except to mix it up. Some people may have a 9 piece gallery wall, others may opt for a 30 piece. Regardless of how many pieces you’re looking to include, try your arrangement out on your floor prior to hanging the artwork to ensure you’re happy with the combination.

Tip: if your gallery wall will hang above a piece of furniture, plan for the bottom of your lowest frame to hang 7-10 inches above the top of your furniture. If your gallery wall is hanging on an empty wall, aim for the center of your whole arrangement to hang about 57 inches above the floor.

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