with wall artist expert Anthony Dallmann-Jones, PhD – “Dr. DJ”
Say it with me, “Large white walls are O.U.T.” One wonders how we ever evolved the notion that the best way to live an interesting home or office life was to have humongous empty white walls.
I have a theory.
I think we were convinced by décor magazines and media. They most always show rooms in their ads and articles with big blank walls. That does not mean the walls are fashionable…it means that the furniture or curtains or carpets or paintings being showcased are displayed optimally by using large white walls!
Subconsciously, we register the big white field, perhaps, more than the object in the center.
I do know a bit about beautifying large wall spaces. One picks up a lot, not only from observation and researching about wall decor, but also from managing four art galleries over the last 20 years, hanging my own 30+ shows, and learning from Zak, my genius artist partner and son, who has an uncanny knack for optimizing the hanging of art shows and what simply “looks right.” That craft is commonly underestimated and makes for a perfect example of how “small things can make huge differences.” It is also a craft helped by the willingness to use a bit of math.
Here are the 5 basic rules for large wall decor and decorating your tall walls and/or decorating your high ceiling walls.
1. The Room – What size is best for large wall decor?
Basically, bigger is better when selecting art for any room. The decorative mistake I have seen made by homeowners, office managers, and even interior designers and decorators, over and over again, is choosing wall art too small for the room.
If you invest in art, you do not want to buy and hang it, only to discover that your room is still barren. Take into account the amount of furniture you have in a room. If it is sparse, a large piece of art will fill the field of vision as well as more furniture can and will.
If your ceilings are high, voluminous, or vaulted, you must GO BIG, to be on the safe side. Especially when you purchase modern/contemporary art, bigger is better!
2. Figure the width
Here comes the math! When you hang a painting, drawing, print, or any other work of art, on the wall over a piece of furniture – like a bed or a sofa, the piece should be between 65% and 85% of the total width of the furniture. Anything bigger makes your furniture comically small, and anything smaller leaves too much BBB (big blah blank) space.
3. It doesn’t have to be ONE piece when it comes to decorating your tall walls and decorating your high ceiling walls
Is it difficult to find a piece that is large enough for your setting? * Why not consider a diptych or a triptych? Compatible art in twos or threes should still correspond to that calculated 65% – 85% width mentioned in suggestion #2. Make sure you leave two to five inches of space in between the smaller works.
4. Use the rule of three-eighths – more math!
When working with a large empty wall space use this rule: The white space on either side of the painting should be approximately three-eighths of the painting width. Simply multiply the length of your wall by 0.6 to calculate your ideal width.
5. Anchor the Room with your large wall decor
Don’t just hang artworks at eye level! That is a very common misconception, because, after all, that is just your eye level. Instead, interior decorators and curators tend to hang standard works 58 inches from the floor to the center of the artwork. Bump up to 60 inches if your ceilings are really high.
Relative to furniture in the room:
If the artwork is to be above furniture, the bottom end of the piece should be 8 to 10 inches above the headboard or back of the sofa. The top of the art décor should not be closer to the ceiling than the distance between the furniture and the bottom of the art. In other words, if your art is 12 inches above your headboard or sofa back (or mantle), the distance between the TOP of the art and the ceiling should NEVER be smaller than 12 inches of empty wall space.
There you have it. If you follow these 5 basic rules your tall wall space/large white walls, or high-ceiling wall spaces in your home or office, will look terrific. When in doubt give us a buzz at AnthonyDJones.com – using our contact form. But just remember that your environment will shape the way you feel every day, so take some time when modifying it so that you can take advantage of the informed decisions that will make the difference.
*(Currently, our largest photographic piece is over 72” in width which is large, but if you have a 14 ft. ceiling it might swallow up even We Cooled The Sun Together. At some point consider, instead of prints, paintings and logos, go REALLY BIG – The Light Sculpture Route!)
Dr. DJ was manager of the Awarehouse Gallery, Director of the Marco Island Studios and Gallery Cooperative, owner, along with Zak, of State Street Gallery, and, currently, has managed all of the wall art spaces at Michelangelo’s Coffee House Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin, for 11 years.