Tips for Choosing Fine Art Photography that is Right for your Room

Determining what style of fine art photography and the proper size and placement of that piece can seem daunting. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily a straight-forward answer either, but when buying a print, you’ll want to think about and consider these tips.

Determine Your Available Wall Space

“What size should I get?” is one of the more frequent questions I receive. Generally, bigger is almost always better, but of course you don’t want to go too big either. So first, you’ll want to determine your available wall space.

Typically you want to cover two-thirds to three-quarters of you wall with the art so make sure to break out your measuring tape and do a little math on this one. You don’t want to buy an expensive piece only to find the wall still feels barren when it’s hung.

Quick Steps:

  1. Measure the length and width of your wall space.
  2. Multiply the width by .57 (4/7) and .75 (3/4).
  3. Multiply the length by .57 and .75.
  4. The piece you should buy should measure somewhere within that range of both the width and length you just calculated.
  5. (Bonus Step) Hang some painters tape right on the wall in the size and place of the print so you can more easily visualize how it will fit the space.

Other Rules-of-Thumb

  • When hanging a piece above furniture, you want it to be 3/4 the width of that furniture and hung 6-12″ above the top.
  • When hanging above a fireplace, 3-6″ above the mantel will suffice. Select a size with a width that is larger than the fireplace opening, but smaller than the mantle.

Remember to Factor In Frame Size Too

If you’ll be hanging a framed print, make sure to take the frame size into considerations for your calculations. For instance, if you’re going to be framing a print with a 2.5″-wide frame, you’ll be adding 5″ to both your length and width.

Consider the Space Itself


You’ll want to take into account the amount of furniture you have in a room – if it’s sparse, then a large piece of artwork will fill up the visual field, but if you have a larger piece of furniture, a smaller picture might work just as well. 


Think about your ceilings – if they’re high, vaulted ceilings, then a grand piece would be best, but if they’re lower, a shorter, landscape oriented picture would be best. 


You’ll want to take orientation into account as well. Tall, narrow walls will work best with art that is a similar shape and vertical (portrait) orientation, while horizontal wall spaces work best with landscape oriented pieces. 

Again, be safe and go bigger!

A large 48×72″ vertical piece was used to fill a tall, narrow wall with vaulted ceilings.

Consider Your Own Height

As another rule of thumb, artwork should be hung with the center point at eye level so if you’re above or below average in height, be careful. When measuring and eventually hanging, use an average 5’6″ person as a guideline which would put the artwork center at 57-60″ off the ground. However, in a dining or living room, art can be lower since those are generally sitting areas. You may also not hit that sweet spot if you’re hanging the picture above a piece of furniture.

The center on this image is lower than the average to account for a large piece in a small space with small ceilings.

Consider a Gallery Wall

Hanging one large piece draws attention to a focal point in the room, like fireplace or bed, and sets a more formal tone. If one piece is too small, consider a gallery of 3 or 5 images. (Groupings of 3 or 5 create a natural center)

Plan for Your Future

Buying a piece of art based on a wall in your home now is all well and good, but what about when you move? Or if you just want to move the picture to another room? Generally, standard sizes between 12 inches and 48 inches can be accommodated somewhere in any home.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your specific space!

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