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10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

by | Nov 4, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration, Details, Reader Questions

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10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

Rug source and similar rugs / Leather Couch / Linen Settee

Have you ever wondered about what to hang and where when decorating your walls? Since I’ve had a couple of reader questions about decorating walls recently, I thought this topic would make a good discussion for a post.

Reader question:

Hi! I love your blog and your design style! I have a question about how you decide to decorate the walls in your home. How do you decide which walls need something and which ones to leave blank? Your rooms seem to have the perfect balance. Is there a trick?

Thanks! – Tricia


How much art will feel overwhelming, or what to hang where, or how much white space to leave on the walls is all a matter personal preference, of course. Some people feel more at peace with next to nothing on a wall or in a room, and some feel unsettled with too little in a room. Every home has unique needs, too! It isn’t possible to define what will feel right for everyone, but it’s fun to assess what you like so you can begin to feel confident in your own style.

With that said, here are some of my own general guidelines for decorating walls and balancing art around a room. Adjust what works best for your home and style!

1. Vary the numbers of number of items on each wall (so you don’t have the same number of art pieces on each wall). For example, if I did one wall with a grid of six medium-sized frames or even a gallery wall with many pieces of random art, on a nearby wall I would limit the art to only one or two pieces.

2. Use a variety of types and shapes of objects on the walls around the room for more interest. In my living/dining room you’ll see some framed art, mirrors, some round baskets, a soft canvas, an oval clock, a framed oil painting and collected oars.

3. Pay attention to scale. Bigger art pieces or groups of art will make a greater impact than a single small framed piece you can hardly see across the room.

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

Crane Art

4. Avoid using multiple art pieces within one room that feature large letters or quotes. Personally, I try to limit the number of “quotes” or words on a wall in a room to just one art piece. That way the piece can stand out as special and the room doesn’t feel like it is shouting words at me from every angle! Similarly, too many words or quotes on art in one gallery wall can also feel chaotic.

5. Strive for a cohesive feel to the colors, moods, textures, scale and wood tones of all objects on the walls around the room. If anything feels like it’s clashing or overwhelming something else, consider what you could tweak to create a more unified look.

6. You can use more than one mirror within a room, but vary the sizes. One large mirror in a room is enough to be a statement piece (unless you are intentionally using a pair of matching mirrors over twin beds or a sofa or something). Additional mirrors on other walls in a room should be smaller in size, grouped together as a collection or gallery wall, or different shapes.

7. Hang everything so the mid-point of each wall vignette within view is at a similar height (usually for me that mid-point is a bit lower than my own eye level, and I’m only 5’2). Keeping the mid-points consistent helps the art feel balanced around the room. A little poster putty can help keep frames straight!

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

Wall Art // Rug // More Hallway Details 

8. Allow enough blank wall space for your eye to rest in between vignettes. Elements in the room such as the wall color, the style of the home, the amount of furniture, the colors and patterns in a room and within view, the doorways, the windows, and the ceiling height can all impact how much art and how much white space will feel right.

9. Ideally hang art so it feels pleasing to the eye from every angle you can see it. But don’t over analyze and stress out about perfection. Sometimes art on one wall will just look best from a certain angle and is less perfect from another. A little imperfection can make a room feel more relaxed and homey.

10. When your art is hung around the room, step back to scan the space as a whole to see if all the things you have on walls within view contribute to the feeling you want in the space. If it feels too chaotic overall (for your taste), try simplifying a few things. As the seasons change or things get moved around, assess it all again to try to keep your room feeling balanced and comfortable.

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

Tip: Take a Photo!

Many people focus mostly on setting up their individual vignettes, meaning they decorate one wall and then go to another wall and do another vignette. The stuff on one wall might feel interesting on its own (or make an eye-catching Instagram shot!), but if you repeat that same amount of stuff on every wall around a room it can feel like too much when you pull back to look at the room as a whole.

Here’s a trick that can help: Step back as far as you can and take a photo of the entire room. A photo can help you “see” your room in a new way and better assess how it is coming together as a whole. A photo can even give you some new insight into what you need to do to improve it.

If you like the balance of your space in the photo, you are probably on the right track!

More Helpful Posts:

How to Choose Art for Your Home + Favorite Art Sources

Where to Find Coastal / Sailboat / Seascape Artwork: Favorite Sources

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

You’ll find many more decorating principles, helpful tips, and simple how to’s in my full-color photo decorating book, The Inspired Room, my book But Where Do I Put the Couch and Answers to 100 Other Decorating Questions, and my book Simple Decorating (under $10)!

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

 Pin this post for later with the graphic below!

10 Helpful Guidelines for Decorating Walls

See more reader questions I’ve answered on The Inspired Room HERE.

Shop my house and latest decor finds here


  1. Anne

    Hi Melissa – I really enjoy your posts on things like this. You give good advice and I love your style. A few years ago I was at Pike Road, Alabama and I believe you were there as a vendor. I wasn’t reading your blog then but I wish I had been so I could have said hello! Your interiors are cohesive but not cluttered. It’s a delicate balance I’m always striving for.

  2. Melissa Glorioso

    Thank you. I love these helpful ideas. But in an effort to read it more easily, I copied/pasted to a Word document and separated the points Doing this helped me see that you did not include point 9!! Maybe that’s the point I need!

    • Melissa Glorioso

      Sorry, it is #8 that is missing, not 9!!!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Oh you are so right, I somehow lost one of my points! Good catch. I snuck the tip back in and renumbered, so it should be ready to reprint. :)

      • Melissa Glorioso

        Thanks so much!

  3. Taste of France

    Good tips! The worst mistake is too small, too high, too spread out–the one little picture per wall, hung too high.

  4. Lori

    I love (LOVE) the tip about taking a photo. I tell my home staging clients to do the exact same thing. Great post!

  5. Joanne B.

    Good tips for using how to use art on the walls of our home! I especially like the one about taking a photo of the wall/room! I have often done this, not just for the art but to “see” how my whole room looks. In this blogging world it is hard to think our own space stacks up because we are inundated (and overwhelmed!) on the internet where everything is so perfectly staged. Seeing a pic of my own space makes me realize my space DOES look picture perfect! Quit often I am impressed with what I see and there is no greater feeling than that!

  6. Christi from Charm & Grace Cottage

    Melissa, you are so generous to share your tips with us. I do believe that white space is as important as spacing. But my favorite tip is not to over-stress about it! I am still enjoying your beautiful book!

  7. Luisa

    This post is making me wish I had more wall space. Gotta be grateful for windows though!

  8. Stephanie

    I really enjoyed this post! ???I did analysis on my walls after reading this and somehow I unknowingly followed these steps. Haha! Yay, I didn’t have to change anything! (Happy dance)

  9. Becky

    The chest in your pictures is this a black or a dark navy do you have the name of the color it’s gorgeous

  10. Aubrey B

    HEllo can you please share the wall color?

  11. andrea

    Another incredibly helpful blog post! Thank you! I was wondering what you use to hang your photos (nails, 3M)? I ask because I know you like to move your wall art around, as do I, and I wondered how you do that without having nail holes all over the place….like I do:/

  12. Ashley

    Hi, are you able to share the color/finish of your pottery barn leather sofa?? I want it, but cannot decide on a color not in person.


  13. Lyn

    Great ideas. Here’s something that we came up with several years ago. Instead of buying commercial prints, etc., we have taken photos my husband has taken on our travels and had them printed on canvas. I go through all the pictures to come up with just the right one for my space. We have canvas prints from Ireland, Italy, the US, etc. In fact, we just received one today that I ordered for my kitchen – it’s a print of the Ballymaloe Cookery School sign in Ireland. It’s been on my to do list for about a dozen years or so. These images mean so much to us, especially during these uncertain times.

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