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Design Inspo

The Dos & Don'ts of Hanging Art Above a Bed

Let's take a look at some of the dos and don’ts of hanging art above your bed and find the perfect look for your bedroom.

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One of the joys of interior design is getting to put the finishing touches on your home decor, particularly choosing wall art. Finding the right art in the best size, placed in the right location to create the mood you want in your bedroom, isn’t always intuitive, but it can be easy. And when it’s accomplished, it’s a true chef’s kiss moment.

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1. Don’t Place Art Without Considering Its Emotional Impact 

When you have several pieces to scatter throughout a bedroom, it’s easy to lose sight of the feeling you want in your bedroom and if it’ll encourage proper rest. We make choices about art during the day when we feel alert and excited about the project, but is that wonderful abstract piece with such vibrant color going to ease you into sleep? (Depends who you’re asking!)

Do Arrange Art So You Have a Restful View From the Bed

If you want to place that keyed-up piece by a local artist on the wall in your bedroom, make it the wall over your bed. You’ll get all of the drama and emotional impact of the piece when you are awake, but as you fall asleep, you can focus on something more subdued on the wall opposite the bed. It’s a win-win situation for you.

2. Don’t Use Just Any Frame When Hanging Art Above the Bed 

It may be tempting to think that choosing the work of art is the hard part and that the picture frame you slip it into is irrelevant.

Some common mistakes are: 

  • Choosing cheap frames that cheapen the art.
  • Choosing wood frames that match your furniture but clash with the art piece.
  • Choosing a frame that works with neither your bed decor nor the art because it is just an afterthought purchase.

You want the frame you choose to aid your art’s impact and not downgrade the viewing experience. 

Do Balance Frame Type and Color for Your Overall Bedroom Decor

If you have spent the time and money to source a gorgeous canvas print, your first consideration is to elevate the piece itself with a frame color that lets it shine. If a blond wood-tone frame matches your bedroom furniture but looks terrible next to your oil painting, remove it. There’s no room for that kind of design sacrifice here!

It’s better to find a frame that strikes a balance between matching furniture and properly framing the piece. Keeping your wood frames in the same family of tones as your bedroom furniture will help the frame recede and make your art stand out. 

Just because you bought it as a framed print doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by changing frames or adding matting to customize your wall art for your particular space. As you source frames, keep in mind that lighter frames generally let art take center stage, while darker ones draw out dark aspects of the work or create a nice boundary for black-and-white art pieces. You can source more framing ideas in Spoak’s discovery feed

3. Don’t Hang Art That Is Wider Than the Bed or Headboard

The worst mistake you can make in hanging art anywhere is to choose pieces that extend out over the edges of the furniture beneath it. (This applies to console tables/buffet tables and art behind the living room sofa too!) Your wall will have a top-heavy appearance that disturbs the natural balance of the room. 

Do Hang Art That Is at Least Two-Thirds the Width of your Headboard

It’s not a hard and fast rule — you may have the perfect collection of art prints that will be exactly the width of your bed frame. If this is the case, trust your gut.

The two-thirds rule is a general guideline that helps when you’re in doubt. Imagine a triangle superimposed over your bed’s accent wall. You want all of your art to fit within the ever-decreasing shape of the triangle as it moves upward from the bed. 

Unless you have a king-size bed, possibly with an even wider headboard, you won’t want to hang two prints with landscape orientation side by side. Instead, go for two portrait-style pieces with a total width of two-thirds of the bed or more.

4. Don’t Use Artwork That Is Too Small for the Space

The obvious over-correction of the above pointer is to err on the side of teeny tiny art. Though this can be done for interesting asymmetry and use of negative space, if those principles aren’t your goal, you need to choose a larger piece of art that keeps the head of the bed as the room’s focal point

Do Choose Artwork That Is Large Enough To Meet the Two-Thirds Rule

If you have some smaller pieces you love, like a fauna print study collection or photographs you took and want to display, consider grouping them together in a gallery wall that, as a whole, can be large enough to span two-thirds of your bed.

5. Don’t Hang Your Art Too Close to the Bed or Too High

You don’t want pillows to tilt it or, worse, knock it down as you reposition in your sleep. At the other end of the spectrum, if you hang your art too high to prevent bumping it, you run the risk of it seeming detached from the entire focal wall as it is so far above eye level.

Do Keep Your Art Six to Eight Inches Above the Bed

Six to eight inches gives you plenty of room to toss and turn in your sleep and make the bed in a hurried manner without fearing your statement piece will be destroyed in the process. If you don’t have a headboard, measure six to eight inches above your back pillows to ensure there is enough space. 

Having your artwork sit a safe distance from pillows but close enough to feel like part of the bed and bedroom decor lets you create an accent wall with the right visual weight.

6. Don’t Space Gallery Wall Art Too Far Apart

If you go with a gallery wall above the bed to feature several smaller pieces without breaking the two-thirds rule, hanging them too far apart can make the wall feel disjointed from the bed and each piece from one another. It can read as busy and chaotic to the eye.

Gallery wall artwork in bedroom
Bedroom designed in Spoak by Sarah Deel

Do Hang Pieces Close Enough To Each Other To Feel Like One Whole

Typically hanging gallery wall pieces two to three inches apart is a good rule of thumb. This lets each piece be distinct but still feel like part of the whole arrangement. Don’t forget to keep that arrangement within the width of the bed itself. Spoak’s gallery wall builder tool will help you plan your arrangement seamlessly. 

7. Don’t Think You’re Limited to Framed Art Over the Bed

Choosing a framed print or canvas art to go above the bed is second nature to most of us; we don’t always think outside of the box. But framed art is not the only thing that can go above the bed. 

Do Think Outside the Box for Your Wall Art

Your accent wall could include a wall hanging you wove yourself in soothing colors of natural yarn or a DIY boho macrame piece with fringe that creates strong vertical lines.

The wall itself can be your art if you create an accent wall of board and batten wood molding and paint over it. Feature walls of chevron patterned wood or shiplap with a couple of sconces on each side of the bed may be enough decoration for your space.

8. Don’t Think You Have To Do Anything to the Wall

A wide, blank wall may feel unintuitive and tempt you to put something there, anything to fill that gaping wall space. However, these impulses can lead to uninspired rooms and obligatory wall decor.

Do Embrace Negative Space and a Minimalist Aesthetic.

It is okay to do nothing with a wall. Sometimes the amount of things in a space and the minimal perspective it presents is the art of the room. Negative space can make a strong statement and be a very calming influence in a chaotic world. 

We’re not too big on rules here, so if you choose to use one small off-centered painting above the bed or nothing at all and let the paint color of the room do all of the talking for you, we won’t judge. After all, you’re the designer!

Photo Credit: (Left) Domino


Color Psychology: Does It Affect How You Feel? | Very Well Mind

How High to Hang Pictures | The Spruce

How to Create a Focal Point in Any Room | The Spruce

The Power of Negative Space in Interior Design | Houzz

Learn more about art styling and other design fundamentals with our free online BeSpoak School curriculum. 

Date Posted
June 12, 2023



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