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How to Choose the Perfect Wall Decor for Your Home

Learn how to choose the right style and size of artwork, and how to arrange it on your walls.

Holly Traffas
Holly Traffas
Uniform Grid Wall Decor

Adding art and decor to your walls is a quick way to express your unique style, and it’s easy to update no matter how often your taste changes. Whether you hang paintings, mirrors, dimensional decor, or decorative shelves, your walls are the canvas for your creativity. Choosing the right style and size of art, and understanding how to arrange it can seem intimidating, but with a few simple tips (and yes, a little math) you can nail it. We’ve put together this guide to help you turn those blank walls into masterpieces.

Paintings vs. Prints

Paintings are works of art that are created by hand, usually by applying oil or acrylic paint to a board or canvas with an artist’s brush. Paintings can be of any subject and in any style — from traditional to contemporary, like this colorful abstract acrylic on canvas piece.

Prints are exact representations, or copies, of original artwork and range in price from inexpensive posters on paper to pricey limited-edition prints which are signed and numbered by the artist. Fine art prints on canvas provide an affordable entry point for art lovers on a budget.

Modern techniques produce high-quality prints with vivid colors and excellent detail. Canvas art prints that are stretched over wood frames add depth and presence. In gallery wrapped prints, the image continues around to the sides of the piece, eliminating the need for a frame, like this moody landscape print. Prints can be transferred onto materials other than canvas, including fabric, metal, MDF board, and wood. Art prints on planks of wood, like this ink-printed sunset on pine, add extra texture and dimension to the image.

Moody landscape print wall art

Choosing Your Art Style

Whether you’re inspired by traditional landscapes, bold abstracts, or vintage travel posters, there are art prints available to express your style. Choose a piece that matches your existing decor, or accessorize your room to complement the art. If the art comes first, you can tie it into the rest of the space by pulling a color from the piece to repeat in wall paint, rugs, decorative accessories, or throw pillows and blankets. Here are some of our favorite art categories to get you started:  


From peacocks to puppies, and every living thing in between, animal prints can add formal sophistication or contemporary cuteness to your space.

Dog painting on dining room wall


Prints featuring planes, trains, and automobiles (and motorcycles and bicycles) are a great fit for urban and industrial decor. For a more personalized touch, choose a vintage travel poster to reflect your hometown or a favorite vacation spot.

Airplane Propeller Painting on Bathroom Wall


Images of flowers, trees, and plants are favorite art subjects for good reason. They celebrate natural beauty and are created in a wide range of styles, so there are options for every taste. Landscapes, botanical prints, and floral still life paintings are classics that fit nicely with traditional decor. Photographic images, surrealistic colors, and closeups of plant life look great in contemporary and modern spaces.

Ranunculus flowers painting on living room wall


Abstract art does not try to represent the real world. Compelling shapes, textures, and colors make abstract art very versatile and a good match for many interior decorating styles.

Abstract shape painting on dining room wall

Typography & Symbols

A picture is worth a thousand words. And, sometimes, a picture is words. The typography trend is going strong, and there’s a huge selection of art featuring text and symbols. This style is a good fit with urban, industrial, contemporary, bohemian, and eclectic decor.  

Happy is the New Rich wood Wall Art

The Right Size Art (and how to hang it)

Too big, too small, too high, too low, or just right? The scale of your art, and how you position it on the wall, is almost as important as the subject of the piece itself. Many novice home decorators are inclined to go too small and hang art too high. The result is a room that’s visually out of balance, and makes you feel that something is “off.”

Ever wonder how professional designers always seem to get this bit right? It’s really very easy when you know some simple math tricks. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right scale of art and hang it perfectly.

What Size Should You Choose?

When in doubt, go bigger! A single piece of artwork that fills up the visual space makes a strong design statement, and looks more intentional than a small picture floating on an expanse of blank wall.

The rule-of-thumb is to fill up between 57% and 75% of open space on a wall. For example, a wall without any furniture against it, that measures 96” tall and 120” wide, would call for a piece (or grouping) that’s between 55” and 72” tall, and between 68” and 90” wide.

If the wall has furniture against it, like a sofa, buffet, or credenza, that will reduce the open space available for artwork. Shoot for a painting that measures between ⅔ and ¾ the width of the furniture piece.

large forest canvas hanging over sofa

How High Should You Hang Art?

It can be tempting to break out the step ladder and hang art high on the wall, but keep in mind that art is meant to be viewed from a standing position. Here are a few guidelines to hang wall art at the perfect height:

  • In general, the center of a piece of art should hang at eye level (for a person of average height).
  • Art hung over a sofa, buffet, or credenza should have 6” to 12” of clearance between the bottom edge of the art and the top of the furniture.
  • If you’re hanging art over a fireplace, allow 3” to 6” of space above the mantle.

Large Canvas hanging over fireplace

Gallery Walls

Now that you know how to choose a single piece of artwork in the perfect size, and how high to hang it, you’re ready to tackle something a little more advanced — the gallery wall. These art groupings create a feature wall with many smaller pieces, rather than one large one.

Grid Wall collection

DESIGN TIP: Plot out your gallery wall before creating a single nail hole by using paper patterns.

  • Gather your collection, then measure each individual piece.
  • Transfer those measurements onto paper and cut out a square or rectangle to represent each piece (butcher paper works great for this project).
  • Use painter’s tape to arrange your paper patterns on the wall, repositioning until you’re happy with the grouping.
  • Install nails or picture hangers before taking down the paper. Look at the back of each piece of art to see where the picture hanger or wire is located then measure the distance between the hanger and the top edge of the artwork. Transfer this measurement to the paper pattern on the wall, find the center point from right to left, make a mark, then pound the nail right through the paper pattern. Once your nails are in place, simply tear away the paper patterns and hang your art!
Tools to hang wall decor

The possible combinations of pieces and arrangements for your gallery wall are virtually endless. If you love symmetry and balance, build your gallery wall with similar types of artwork in identical frames, then arrange them in a grid. For a cohesive, intentional look for your grouping, choose pieces within the same color scheme and subject matter — for example a collection of vintage floral prints, or black-and-white photography. If you’re going for a more casual, eclectic vibe, feel free to mix and match art styles, colors, frames types, and sizes. You can arrange your collection symmetrically, or loosely. Here are a few common arrangements:

Types of Gallery Wall Groupings
gallery groupings 2

Same-sized collections line up easily into a grid, but it’s also relatively simple to create an orderly grouping with different sized components — just box them in. Imagine a square or rectangular space into which all the pieces must fit, then arrange the pieces inside with the outer edges touching the box. Use your painter’s tape to create an outline of the area on the wall, then use butcher paper (as described in the Design Tip above) to help you visualize placement.

Don’t want to spend years combing thrift stores and flea markets to build a collection of similar artwork? Create an instant gallery wall with curated sets, like this pretty 6-piece botanical collection or this 12-piece set of framed bird prints.

Gallery walls don’t have to be made up entirely of tidy rectangles. It’s perfectly fine to mix in mirrors, wall clocks, dimensional wall decor, and other objects that speak to you.


Mirrors are more than just a way to make sure you look your best before heading out the door. They can help fill the room with reflected light, and add interest to bare walls. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and frame styles, mirrors can be used alone, in groupings, or as part of a gallery wall. Use the same design principles for sizing and placement as you would for other types of wall decor, but be mindful of the things that the mirror will reflect to avoid visual clutter.

Gold round mirror on wall

Dimensional Wall Decor

Add depth, texture, and detail with dimensional wall art. These 3D pieces can be used as a focal point, or mixed with framed art on a gallery wall. Industrial spaces are the perfect backdrop for vintage-inspired metal, like this red arrow marquee sign, or this oversized distressed-metal car art. For mid-century modern decor, try a gold metal starburst or this trio of abstract dandelion sculptures. Highly detailed pieces with a little sparkle, like this silver leaf antelope head, look great as part of an eclectic gallery wall grouping.

Gold Lips dimensional wall decor

Functional Wall Art

Useful things can be beautiful. Here are a few decorative options that look great and work hard:

  • Decorative wall shelves can add storage for books or serve as display pieces for candles, vases, framed photographs, and other home accents.

Wall shelves decor
  • Wall hooks are available in a wide range of designs and finishes, and serve to keep keys, coats, hats, and bags organized and easy to find.
Hook samples
  • Message boards and bulletin boards provide a handy place to post family messages and reminders, or pin up favorite photos and kids’ artwork.

message board example

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