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How to Fill Your Big Blank Walls

I know you have Big Blank Walls. And I know why it’s so hard to fill them.

Art is expensive. And big art is even more expensive. So you want to fill the wall over your bed/dining table/sofa, but you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars. It can also be intimidating to commit to art, especially if you don’t feel confident making big design decisions. And something unique about this problem is that the bigger your home is, the bigger this problem is. So the route I see most often is: you leave the wall blank. And even though you have a room full of thoughtfully curated furniture, the room never quite feels finished - thanks to that Big Blank Wall. Another common route I see is you buy a piece that’s say, 2’ X 3’ - which is not small. And it’s not cheap. But you get it home and you hang it up, and it doesn’t fully fill the space above the sofa. The scale is off, and the room still feels incomplete. Despite your investment.

So let’s talk about scale, and how to get it right.

How big should your art be?

My fail proof formula for filling a Big Blank Wall is: artwork should generally be at least ⅔ the width of the piece below it.

Whether it's above a mantel, a bed, a desk, or a sofa - the formula stays the same. That means if you have a Big Blank Wall over a 98” sofa, your artwork should be around 65” wide.¹ Now, it can be difficult to find a piece of art that resonates with you, much less a 5 foot wide piece of art. I’ll share a few simple ways to navigate this.

1 . Instead of one large piece, go with two.

For symmetry you could go with a diptych (a pair of paintings), or you could frame two smaller photos side by side. One detail I like about this photo above is that one photo is portrait, the other is landscape, but they're matted and framed so that they look uniform. Oversized mattes can make large frames easier to fill and give a gallery feel.

Living room with modern mantel and art
Design: @ashe_leandro Photo by: @shadedeggesphotography

2 . Embrace asymmetry

For a more modern look, you can hang two intentionally different sized pieces side by side. I think this asymmetry works best when the pieces are drastically different in size and shape.That way it looks intentional, not accidental. It's a playful way to use negative space and to express an unconventional personality.

Dining room with asymmetrical art
Home of Jordy van den Nieuwendijk and Kate Isobel Scott

Marble mantel with art over it
Source: @stephanie_somebody

3 . A simple grid

And if you can’t find one or two large pieces, you can always hang a series of smaller pieces, equidistant.² Whether you're hanging 3 smaller pieces (like my skateboards) or 12 (like the black & white gallery above) you can still follow the same general formula of filling at least ⅔ of the width of the space above the furniture piece below it.

art gallery wall at Tase Gallery
Photo: @tasegallery

Skateboards over bed
My Austin home, Celine-inspired skateboards by stopitrightnow above the bed

Bonus : World’s easiest DIY

My red painting above is a Big Blank Wall DIY so easy, anyone can do it. Of course you can paint your canvas in any color that suits your personal style!

Easy DIY art painting
My current Brooklyn apartment, with my DIY Big Blank Wall filler

Here is how I DIY'd the big red painting:

Book a Consultation with me for solutions to your specific Big Blank Wall situation. Show me your wall, tell me your issue, and I'll share art recommendations. Once you book, here’s what you can expect.

What a past Design Consultation client has to say:

“Cristina helped me think through ideas for my living/dining room as well as my bedroom. I had the 'bones' of the spaces, but needed a lot of help to elevate them.

She helped me with suggestions on colors, furniture, art, and overall aesthetic. I really liked how open the process was.

Cristina has a wealth of knowledge, and she makes it easy to think through new ideas for your space, especially if you're a design novice.- Genevieve

You can find even more Big Blank Wall ideas by watching Episode 1 of my YouTube series Home School, Big Blank Walls.

¹ This formula is a general rule. And of course you are always welcome to break the rules! I find it's most helpful to learn the rules when you're a beginner, and then as you experiment and grow more confident with your personal style you can decide for yourself which rules you want to follow, and what you choose to break.

² Does your gallery wall have to be hung equidistant? No, but in my opinion an equidistant grid is the easiest way to hang a gallery wall for beginners. Once you feel comfortable with hanging art you can throw the formula out the window and simply trust your gut (or in this case your eye).


Meet Cristina Cleveland

Interior Designer

I created the Interior Style Quiz to give you the tools and language to express your style more cohesively in your home. 

Book a call if you need help closing the gap between your home right now and the personal style you want to be expressing.

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