How to hang pictures above a sofa

The most common questions I get from our readers are about hanging pictures above a couch. People ask things like: How high above the sofa do I hang my pictures? Is my picture big enough to hang above the couch or is it too small? How far from the ceiling should I hang my art?

Here’s a question one of our blog readers sent in that I want to share with you.

Q: My sofa is 82″ and I have a painting 60″ long by 40″ high. The distance from the back of the sofa to the ceiling is only 59” and my sofa back is 36” high.  Is this piece of art too large for my wall? The ceiling is not high, but I love this piece of art. How high above the sofa must it hang? How far from the ceiling must it be?

A: Since I didn’t see a picture of the room, I mapped out the above dimensions on a wall in my office using Painter’s tape, which is a low adhesive tape that doesn’t damage wall surfaces.

When hanging wall décor above a piece of furniture, always hang your piece in relation to the furniture sitting below. That’s why I often say to anchor your art to your furniture or that your art is an extension of your furniture. You should never measure from the ceiling unless you’re planning to suspend a piece from it.

As a general rule I recommend hanging your art so the bottom of the frame hangs 8” to 10” above the back of the sofa. Of course there are exceptions, and this is exactly what we have here.

Use Painter's tape to map out your art

Considering the size of the artwork, and the low ceiling (8’ high) the closer the art hangs to the couch, the higher the ceiling will appear. On the picture on the left, we hung the painter’s tape art 8” from the sofa back, but it ended up looking like we were trying to center the piece on the wall space. We lowered the “green art” to 6” and it instantly looked better. The difference may be subtle in the pictures because we’re just dealing with one dimension, but visualize a frame and art to get the feeling of a more substantial piece hanging above the couch. Lowering the “green tape art” made the ceiling appear higher, which is a great result. The closer to the ceiling your art is, the more you’re encouraging your eyes to look straight up when you actually want the focal point to be the art itself.

As for the scale of the painting, it’s the perfect size. It’s larger than half the width of the sofa, which is big enough to counter balance the size of the sofa nicely.  If the piece had turned out to be too small for the wall, I would have recommended filling the extra wall space on either side of the art with sconces, mirrors, or other smaller pieces of art.

Another word of advice from me: when in doubt when hanging pictures just map it out like we did here and you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll be able to figure out if it works or not.  In your case, use the tape with your furniture in place and you’ll get great results.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, we’d love to help you!

Liette Tousignant

I’m passionate about picture hanging and wall decorating (and I’m also the Founder of Under The Roof Decorating).

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Reviews (1 comment)

  • William S. On

    Hello- My apt has 9’ ceilings. Is there a rule to determine proper center vertical height?
    Thanks – William

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