5 Ways a Small Piece of Art Can Work Magic on a Big Blank Wall

August 23, 2016

A big, blank wall is something of a dare. What will you do with it? I hear a lot of people worry over this with an alarming measure of embarrassment—sometimes tinged with modesty, as if naked walls are the bare midriff of home design. Perhaps worse, they might signal to any passerby that the owner really doesn't know a drip about decorating.

New dare: Resist the temptation to cover every blank wall entirely. Big art is expensive, as is a whole collection of it for a gallery wall. Try instead finding a small piece of art that you love and letting it be the focal point of a large wall, by positioning it in conversation with at least one other feature nearby.

By "in conversation," I mean near enough to other furniture, accents, and architectural shapes in the room that they seem to have something to say to one another. (You don't want to a small painting right in the middle of a huge blank wall, entirely alone, lest it start to seem a little like a lost child.)

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Here's how to anchor a small piece of art on a blank wall for maximum impact—and how to do it so they don't feel lonely or adrift at all:

Wrangled Loose from a Nearby Vignette

If your piece of art is especially tiny, try hanging it as if it's just run away from a nearby grouping of furniture and decorations, which will extend the impact of the whole arrangement while still honoring the nearby negative space. Think of it as one of those embers that jumps out of the fire and keeps glowing.

Next to a Larger Piece in Complementary Colors

Even though the larger piece is much more commanding because of its size, all the impact of the arrangement below comes from the small one. Leaving plenty of room between the two will ensure that more wall space gets called into focus (i.e., "covered").

Offset by a Pendant Lamp

Consider ways the wall will be viewed besides just standing right in front of it. Looking through the room below, you can see the shape of a hanging lamp against the wall; the perfect space for a painting or small drawing is just beside it.

(On the other side of the lamp, the piece is anchored further—to the corner of the room.)

Within a Nook in the Architecture

Color is its own kind of art, making unusual turns in the floor plan into sculptures themselves. Here, a light-colored painting contrasts with the moody tone of the wall behind it, anchored to a dogleg in the design of the room.

Bridging the Gap in the Heights of Your Decorations

Picture the room below, with the house-shaped shelf removed: It fells almost lopsided, with a tall arrangement on one side and a lot of white space to the right. The perfect spot for a piece of art, then, connects the low pieces (like the chair and rug) to these higher-reaching ones.

What kinds of small pieces of art (open to interpretation, here) have you freckled your house's walls with? Tell us—and share your tips—in the comments.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.

1 Comment

foofaraw August 23, 2016
Am I the only one who can't see the images in this article?