How to Make Large Paintings Work in Your Home

So you’ve found a piece of art you love but it just happens to be the size of George Foreman’s ego, and you’re not sure if it will even fit through the door, let alone fit in with your furniture?

Never fear. Assuming you can fit it through the door, it’s not as hard as you think to make a large painting work in your home. There are a few guidelines to make it easier, though.

Big is beautiful

If you live in a small place and the artwork is too big for the room, don’t even try to pretend it isn’t too big: its size is its feature, so make it look deliberate – create a focal point around it using furniture, plants, and lots of white space.

oversized-art-works-design-lovin39-oversized-artwork-oversized-artworkThis gargantuan painting works in the small space, thanks to clever choices in surrounding features. Source: Teens Analyzed.

Maximum size, minimal competition

Speaking of white space, don’t hang any other artwork in same the room as your oversized sweetheart.* Blank walls are your friend in order not to make the room feel overcrowded. Embrace the minimalist mindset, if only for this one room. (*Rules are made to be broken, though. If you can make it work, make it work, but make sure the other paintings are small and grouped together, perhaps to the side of the large piece.)

inked-forest-maria-zoubi-exl1-bluethumb-artMaria Al Zoubi’s work Inked Forest stands out against a minimal backdrop. 

Don’t match too hard

Don’t try to match the furniture and décor in the same colours as the artwork. Just don’t. There’s no harm in picking one of the colours and re-covering an armchair in a similar-toned fabric, but if you go overboard with it you’ll end up feeling like you’re living on a 1990s cruise ship. I don’t know why that’s the case, it just is.

eye-cathing-wall-decals-on-red-wallsSeeing (a little too much) red! Don’t drown your artwork in similar colours, as shown here. Source: homedit.

Keep it on the down-low

Don’t hang it too high. If the artwork is portrait-scale (as in, higher than it is wide) the bottom of it should be closer to the floor than you might think. If it is wider than it is high, hang it so the bottom is not far above the nearest table or couch, say 15-20 centimetres. There are no hard and fast rules, so always take a step back, take a photo and try to look at the room from an outsider’s point of view. Where is eye level? Do you have to crane your neck to look at the painting? If so, move it down.

Roundup-OversizedArt-4-Mim-Design-Crisp-StreetThe painting should be hung just above the nearest furniture. Source: Derek Swalwell for Design Milk

Embrace the space

Try to use the entire wall. Don’t hang horizontal artwork on a narrow vertical piece of wallspace, and don’t hang vertical artwork on a wide, horizontal piece of wallspace. The wall should fit the artwork and vice versa, especially for large pieces. This will make the choice of oversized painting look deliberate and make your room seem larger.

5AZB-500x750The artwork fits the space. Source: DesignSponge.

Come prepared

Use the right hardware to hang it. This goes for every piece of artwork you hang, but especially for large or heavy paintings. Those plastic stick-on hooks will not do the job, unless you enjoy hearing the sickening crash of broken artwork. (Did you hear the one about bluethumb’s own director, Ed, who hung a painting above the bed using those stick-on hooks, only for it to come crashing down on his lovely wife’s head in the middle of the night? Rather embarrassing for someone who runs a gallery.)

wondrous-water-vanessa-mae-exl1-bluethumb-artHanging works properly is even more important when they’re above a sitting area! Wondrous Water by Vanessa Mae.

Context is key

This is a tricky one, but if the painting has a lot of detail that has to be seen up close to be appreciated, try to place it in a spot where it will be seen up close, like a hallway. On the other hand, if the overall form of the artwork is best appreciated for its impact at a distance, see if there’s a spot in the house where it will be mostly viewed from further away – like in an open plan living area where someone behind the kitchen bench will be able to get lost in the art while they chop the onions.

unspoken-radiance-annette-spinks-exl1-bluethumb-art (1)The layout of furniture in this room helps show Unspoken Radiance by Annette Spinks in its best light.

Take the leap!

It’s such a shame to shy away from large-scale artworks for mere reasons of practicality, because so often what your home actually needs in order to go from same-old, same-old to amazing is a giant, impractical, attention-seeking painting. So go for it!

Here are a few of the larger pieces on sale at bluethumb at the moment (over 1.8 metres):

large_updraftUpdraft by Jenny Reddin

large_waking-shores-of-a-location-less-ocean-in-a-universe-that-isn-t-there-paris-tremayne-bluethumb-artWaking Shores of a Location-less Ocean in a Universe that isn’t There by Paris Tremayne

large_out-of-the-ashes-tom-o-callaghan-bluethumb-artOut of the Ashes by Tom O’Callaghan


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