Wall Art Sizes: How Big Should Art Be On A Wall?

In addition to choosing frame color, one of the questions I am asked most often is what size art to choose. In my opinion, big is always beautiful, but for a more specific answer, there are design guidelines that make it easy to figure out the standard recommended size. In this post, I share my advice, along with framing experts Tara Gavin, On The Wall Framing, and Dara Deshe, Simply Framed, and interior designer and builder Rebecca Lincoln, Coastal Dwelling Design & Build

How to choose the right size art

The general rule of thumb is to select art that fills about 2/3 - 3/4 of the open wall space (i.e. space that is not hidden behind furniture) where you plan to hang it, OR takes up 2/3 - 3/4 of the width of the furniture it is being displayed above. So, for example, if you are hanging the art above an 84-inch wide sofa, select art that is 56 to 63 inches wide. That means you would need either one large / oversized piece of art, or several smaller pieces that add up to those numbers. A 40x60-inch print, framed without a mat, would work well here.

Boats No 6 - Fine art print by Cattie Coyle Photography in beach house living room

Above: Boats No. 6

This rule applies to all furniture, so whenever you are trying to figure out how wide the art should be, regardless of whether it’s going to hang above a bed, crib, couch, dresser, buffet, console table, tv, fireplace, bathtub, desk, etc., just use the 2/3 - 3/4 rule, and you’ll be all set. Below is a calculator formula that’s really easy to use.

Art Size Calculator Formula

Measure the width of the wall, or the furniture you want to hang art above, and multiply that width twice, first by 0.66, then by 0.75, and that will give you the ideal width range of the art.

For example, if we are trying to figure out what the ideal art size above a king bed would be, assuming it’s a standard 76-inch wide king:

76 x 0.66 = 50
76 x 0.75 = 57

So you would want a piece that is between 50-57 inches wide. With my prints, a matted and framed 30x45-inch print would be a good fit, or if you want to push it and go a bit wider, a 40x60 framed without a mat would also work great.

California Dreaming No 1 - Fine art print by Cattie Coyle Photography above bed

Above: California Dreaming No. 1

And for a 60-inch queen bed, the ideal art size would be between 40-45 inches. With my prints, that means that a horizontal matted and framed 24x36-inch print would be a good fit, or if you wanted to go wider, a horizontal 30x45-inch print framed without a mat would be perfect.

On a 100” wide empty wall, again using the same formula, the art should be between 66 and 75 inches, so a 48x72-inch print framed without a mat, or a matted and framed 40x60 print, would be a good fit.

Another great option for a large wall is a triptych. Three matted and framed 20x40-inch panels, hung 2" apart, adds up to 76 inches, so that would make a great statement piece. If you prefer unframed art, the oversized acrylic glass triptychs are another great option - three 24x48-inch panels, again hung 2" apart, also total 76 inches. Acrylic glass prints are also perfect in bathrooms and other humid areas.

Magoito No 13 Triptych by Cattie Coyle Photography in bathroom

Above: Magoito No. 13 Acrylic glass triptych

Keep in mind that mats and frames always add to the final size. These are the dimensions for my standard print sizes, framed with mats:

Framed art sizes | Cattie Coyle Photography

And below are the dimensions for my standard triptych print sizes:

Triptych print sizes Cattie Coyle Photography

I personally prefer large and oversized wall art, and will always choose a piece at the upper end of (or even above) the largest calculated dimension.

What Are The Standard Art Sizes? What is considered oversized art?

Those are good questions, and the answer is a bit subjective of course, but this is how I classify my art print sizes (in inches):

Square / Panoramic / 4:5 ratio / 2:3 ratio prints

Small - 8x8 - 14x14 / 5x11-10x22 / 8x10 - 11x14 / 8x12 - 10x15
Medium - 16x16 - 24x24 / 20x40 - 20x44 / 16x20 - 24x30 /16x24 - 24x36
Large - 30x30 / N/A / N/A / 30x45
Extra large & Oversized - 40x40 / 27x60 - 30x60 / 40x50 / 40x60 - 48x72 & Triptychs

So for the 84” wide couch example at the beginning of the post, if you were to go with my prints and stick to the 2/3 - 3/4 formula, a few choices would be 1 extra large (40x60) horizontal print, or 2 medium (20x30) horizontal prints, all framed without mats. You could also go with 2 large (30x45) vertical prints, 3 medium (20x30) vertical prints (framed without mats), or 4 10x15 vertical prints, framed with mats. Always make sure to factor in mats and frames for the final dimensions, and don’t forget that if you’re hanging multiple pieces, you also need to add the space in between each piece (around 2 inches for smaller pieces and triptychs, and 3-6 inches for larger art).

Palm tree art prints by Cattie Coyle Photography above console table

Above: Palm Tree No. 7 & Palm Tree No. 8 above console table

The image above is another example, using the same formula: This is a 60-inch wide console table, so the ideal art size is 40 - 45 inches wide. A good fit would be a 24x36-inch horizontal matted and framed print, or you could go with 2 vertical matted and framed 16x24-inch prints, like here.

How High To Hang Art?

The standard recommendation is to hang art so that the mid-point between the top and bottom of the frame is about 57-60 inches above the floor (“the 57 rule”). If the art is hanging above furniture, the bottom of the frame should be about 8-10 inches above the top of the furniture. Generally speaking.

As with every rule, there are exceptions of course. For example, if you have a very low bed without a headboard, hanging art 10 inches above the bed would look really strange, so in a case like that, I would go with the 57 rule.

Sun Glitter - Large framed art print by Cattie Coyle Photography above bed
Above"Sun Glitter"

Same thing with a very low couch, or other furniture. Or if you have a large empty wall with just a small chair or two that sit there when they’re not being used around the dining room table, I would size the art based on the wall width, not the small chairs.

And there can be practical exceptions too: before hanging art above a couch, sit down and lean your head back against the wall to see where it lands, and make sure to hang the art higher than that. You don’t want people leaning back and hitting their head on the frame.

What To Do When A Picture Is Too Small For The Wall Space

Cattie Coyle
Either make it larger with a really wide mat, or make it a part of a gallery wall. It doesn’t have to be a wall with lots of small pieces of art, it could simply be one large and 2 smaller pieces, for example.

Dara Deshe, Simply Framed
It really depends on the piece and the space you’re looking to fill. If it’s not yet framed, you could try matting with an oversized mat. If your piece is too small to hang alone on the wall, make it the focal point of a gallery wall design.

Rebecca Lincoln, Coastal Dwelling
Generally, I will go directly into two options. First option is an oversized mat that has either is a single color like white or pull in a double mat with a neutral complimentary linen color paired with white matting.

Morning Meditation No 1 - Fine art print by Cattie Coyle Photography Mat width comparison
Above: Morning Meditation No. 1 with a few different mat widths

Can artwork be too big?

Cattie Coyle
Personally, I think the larger the better, as long as it doesn’t look totally odd or out of place. One thing I don’t like is when art is squished up against the ceiling, for example, if there is a fireplace mantle with a low ceiling above and a large piece of art is jammed in with no space to breathe. Other than that, I say, get as creative as you want with it!

Rebecca Lincoln, Coastal Dwelling
Yes and no. I say this because there are so many architectural details I will look at. For instance, is it a low ceiling or a vaulted ceiling? What type of room is it in? I look at natural lighting and reflective surfaces to see how the space feels taking into consideration the amount of natural light. If a space is “large” enough to the mind’s eye, keeping in mind those key details, then the wall size can take large art as statement pieces.

Dara Deshe, Simply Framed
Yes, the center of the frame should be hung at the average eye level of 57” (“the 57 rule”). We recommend enough breathing room on each side of the frame to prevent a cramped design. That said, there are some spaces, like alcoves or mud rooms, where stylistically a nearly wall to wall frame can add an element of drama and fit well.

Tara Gavin, On The Wall Framing
When in doubt, GO BIG OR GO HOME! Larger art pieces create a focal point in a room, drawing the eye and making a bold statement. They command attention and set the tone for the entire space.

Palm Trees No 2 - Fine art print by Cattie Coyle Photography

Breaking the Rules

Keep in mind that these are only recommendations and guidelines for how to determine art sizes. In the end, it’s your home, and if you want to cover an entire wall from end to end with an enormous statement piece, or put a large framed piece on the floor and lean it against the wall, or hang two small prints off center over a large couch because you like the way it looks, go for it! I think arranging art can be such a fun and creative process, and as long as the final result makes you happy, you’ve made the right choice!

Summer Morning - Large ocean wall art by Cattie Coyle Photography

I hope this was helpful. Do you have any other questions about wall art sizes? Send me a message or ask in the comments below.

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