The Art of Wall Art: Modern Wall Decor Ideas and How to Hang Pictures Like a Pro

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Is your space all set up with the perfect furniture, but still feels kind of vanilla? Do you live in a modern tract home with big, impossible walls to fill? Are you having trouble deciding what size or type of wall decor to choose or how to hang pictures? These wall decor ideas and tips are going to help you conquer those problems.

How to pick wall decor

First of all, take a look at the wall you’re going to fill to decide what size art you should pick. There are many ways to determine this and you’ll see different ideas throughout this post.

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To choose a perfectly sized piece of art, measure the blank wall and deduct 12-24 inches. Image: Niche Interiors

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A good rule of thumb is to choose wall art that takes up the width of the wall, minus 6-12 inches on each side, so it looks like it’s centered, like the image above. For example, you have a 36 inch wall. Leave about 6 inches on each side of the piece of art, which means you should choose something around 24 inches wide.

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Pick wall decor that’s the same length or smaller than the furniture piece it sits over. Image: 2LG Studio

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What if you are hanging wall art over a sofa, bed or table? Choose a piece of art (or a series) that is the same length as the furniture piece or smaller. Avoid wall decor that is wider than the furniture piece; it looks totally weird.

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Small wall art boxes or mini square canvases are a great and flexible option for filling a big or oddly shaped wall. Image: Sean Gallagher

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What if you have a gigantic wall? Large canvas wall art can be very expensive or hard to get into your apartment. Instead, choose smaller pieces that can be laid like a collage or gallery wall like the contemporary living room above.

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Use multiple panels of wall art to fill a larger wall. Image: GNE Architecture

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Hang wall art in a diptych or triptych pattern, which is basically two, three or more panels of art that flow. Be sure to leave at least 2 inches between the pieces. You can do bigger spacing if you have a huge wall, just keep it consistent.

There are also large format canvases or removable wallpaper murals you can use to create a big, dramatic focal point.

Last thing, choose art that is vibrant or graphic or powerful. Otherwise, what’s the point?

How to hang wall art

Next, decide how high to hang your wall art. Wall art height is the concept that goes wrong the most. The general rule of thumb is to hang wall art at your sight line, so you don’t have to look up too high or too low at it. That means the center of your wall art area is about 60 inches from the ground.

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Hang wall decor 6-8 inches above your furniture. Image: Taylor Smyth

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What if you’re hanging living room wall art over furniture like a sofa or sofa table? Hang the artwork so the bottom edge is 6-8 inches from where the table or sofa back ends.

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You don’t always have to center your wall art. Create a vignette instead. Image: Works Photography

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Once you have an idea of a general spot, frame out the area with painter’s tape to visualize the spot. Stand back a few feet and see if you like where it sits on the wall. Get artsy with this; maybe you want to hang your wall art slightly off center because there’s a plant in the corner or a chair that will block some of it. Create a vignette, or setting, like the image above, where the art is part of the grouping and slightly off center.

There are many ways you can hang wall art and, depending on the weight of the art, you may be able to avoid putting holes in the walls by using adhesive removable mounting tabs.

Wall decor ideas

Wall decor comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s traditional framed art, lightweight and unframed canvases, object collages, metal wall sculptures and more. Check out these great examples of wall decor ideas for inspiration:

Sculptural and metal wall decor ideas

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A bamboo wall sculpture breaks up all the tailored lines in this master bedroom. Image: EDS Interiors

Shop a similar look: Wall Art

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Metallic branch sculptures are laid out over a platform bed for a monochromatic and textural effect. Image: Our Style Stories

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Wall panels

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Six wood panels mounted on a black wall add dimension to the series. Image: Artistic Environments

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Pull together the colors of the room and the accessories with the right wall art panels. Image: Mandeville Canyon Designs

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A diptych (two panels of art) flows from one canvas to the other to add a sophisticated touch to this living room. Image: Purdy Designs

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The homeowners hung a triptych made of small, dimensional objects to add some visual interest and texture to their beige walls. Image: Sean Michael Design

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Always leave at least 2 inches between your wall decor, or more if you have lots of wall area to fill. Image: Studio Kardum

Shop a similar look: Wall Art

Freeform wall decor ideas

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An expansive wall got a treatment of metal butterflies hung in an airy, flowy pattern that looks like they’re flying right out the window. Image: West Chin Architects

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A contemporary living room gets organically shaped wood rings in a free flowing pattern to warm up and soften the room. Image: Marc Michaels Interior Design

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Symmetrical gallery wall art ideas

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Instead of hanging a very large work of art, hang several images symmetrically for a clean, crisp look. Image: City Desk Studio

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The selection of prints were thoughtfully chosen to work with the room’s color, while adding an additional green color for depth. Image: Orbit Homes

Shop a similar look: Watercolor Art

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A narrow wall with two framed images mirrors the greenery outside the window. Image: Just Perfect Staging

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Four perfectly hung art pieces add vibrant color to this modern dining room. Image: Marc Michaels Interior Design

Living room wall decor ideas

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A neutral room gets a striking piece of wall art that mirrors the soft colors but adds shades of complementary blue. Image: Christopher Magidson

Shop a similar look: Wall Art

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A successful wall featuring fun, vibrant art is hung at the right height and just smaller than the sofa table for the perfect scale. Image: IBB Designs

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This bold, graphic canvas is hung at a good sight line height, even though the cabinet beneath it is low. Image: Works Photography

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This piece of art is perfectly centered and highlighted with a spotlight. Image: Zephyr Interiors

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A painting nearly the length of the sofa is the right scale for this living room. Image: Daniel Paya Design

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Although the art is monochromatic like the rest of the room, it adds a finished look to the wall. Image: Horrigan Architects

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Contemporary wall art mirrors the contemporary furnishings of this loft. Image: More Design and Build

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Bold dining room wall decor

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Graphic yet tonal in black and white, the oversized wall panel is the focal point of the dining room. Image: D&D Interiors

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Hang artwork in your dining room that ties in the nearby furniture pieces, like this dining room featuring both orange wall art and black and white photography. Image: Diego Alejandro Design

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You’re officially ready to choose and hang wall art like a pro. Turn those boring white or beige walls into a thing of beauty by choosing large, colorful or textural pieces that add life to your space.



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