Aside from your sofa, ottoman and selection of tables, living room wall decor is one of the most crucial parts of your sitting room’s interior design scheme. Paint or wallpaper are only but the beginning of decorative applications. Below, we’ve compiled our top living room wall decor ideas to bring out the exhibitionist in you.
How to Choose Wall Decor for your Living Room
Unless you’re a seasoned gallery-goer, the place to begin is by determining what style of art you like as the wall art for your living room is likely to be the part you need to mull over the most. Enjoy the process and take your time visiting a few art exhibitions, even if it’s at a smaller, local gallery to learn what movements of art you’re most drawn to. It might be that like the soft composition of Impressionism as well as bright and bold Cubism and want to combine both.
Once you’ve decided which style of lounge wall art you want to introduce, step back for a moment, and consider the scale of your room and how many of your living room wall decor ideas your room can take. Do you want to go maximalist by having one entire wall dedicated to art combined with sculptures and mirrors on your remaining walls? Or more minimalist by keeping most of your wall decor to a single area? Making these decisions early will mean your search is much less overwhelming.
Image Credit: Studio Ashby
How to Display Living Room Wall Decor
There are all sorts of considerations for when it comes to displaying living room artwork and wall decor, but they broadly fall into two camps – layout and frame choice.
With layout, it not only comes back to deciding how you want to spread your wall decor around the room, but whether you want to group them into collections. For example, you might have a selection of wall pictures for your living room that you want to position together to create a photo collage. It’s important to mix different sizes and orientations, so if you don’t do this here, make sure your other forms of wall decor do. Grouping your art means that you’re giving each area of wall decor a clear narrative. Elsewhere, maybe you want paintings for your living room, or one large canvas that stands alone. If you’ve chosen to blend different styles of wall decor, it’s best not to separate them or they won’t feel integrated and your scheme will appear disjointed. Be bold, and put your contemporary sculpture next to a Renaissance-style oil with a gilt mirror over the mantel – combining materials and finishes is key so your wall decor tells a layered story.
Image Credit: BHDM Design
2. Frame Choice
Framed prints for the living room are a case of choosing whether to have a frame or not – canvases are often left without. If you do decide to use a frame, there’s a world of options, from thick to thin, from metal to wood, from painted to gold leaf. To help you decide, try to pick up on one of the materials or finishes you’re already using in the room. If you have brass hardware or light fixtures, choose a frame with a similar treatment but make sure you don’t do that with every frame or it will feel far too staged. The key point is to not use polished chrome if you have brass elsewhere, and not to choose honeyed oak when the rest of your timber is walnut.
Be ready to go off the wall a touch too – literally. Floating wall shelves are a good way to mix up how you display wall decor. Leaning art on a picture ledge or using a shelf to put decorative ornaments that can’t be wall-mounted, but that you want to elevate, is always worth investing in. And don’t forget to consider how to light any artwork too.
For more advice, watch our interview with London and New York-based interior designer and art enthusiast April Russell below.
Living Room Wall Decor Ideas
Living room wall decor covers a larger spectrum than you might think. Below, we’ve shared a few tips and ideas for each of the main areas.
Living room wall paintings are some of the most foundational but effective wall decor you can use. Dan Mazzarini, principal of BHDM Design, explains, “Painted canvases can be amazingly rich in their texture and depth. To see the gestural nature of the artists hand and interaction of paint on the canvas can feel almost kinetic. For us, paintings enliven rooms, and allow us to energize a space through the art we select.”
If you’re stuck on where to begin with size of your wall art, many interior designers will suggest choosing a piece that takes up the width of your wall minus 38-76cm on either side – this will help it look centred. So, measure the wall you want to decorate, and if it’s 127cm, look for wall art that’s between 167-243cm.
Wondering what height is best for hanging your painting so it looks its best? Most designers believe in hanging at eye level so you’re not having to work too hard to view it. Julia Toffolo is a curator of some of the world’s most revered art collections, and she advises that the ideal centre point height is between 155-160cm. And if you’re placing it on a wall above a piece of furniture like a console table or sofa, make sure the bottom edge of the painting is 15-20cm above it.
Image Credit: Natalie Kraiem
2. Framed Prints
Interior designer April Russell leans towards minimal frames for contemporary art because the contents are usually bolder and, therefore, reducing any background noise is a good move. Backwards from Mid-century, you can afford to be more elaborate as the great galleries do. Our blog by leading framers John Jones has plenty more ideas and tips.
3. Wall Sculptures
Despite being a highly regarded art form for centuries and centuries, sculptures and statues are still not quite as expected on our walls at home. Be daring and choose an abstract 3D sculpture that really jumps out from the wall. But if you do, pick out a wall that doesn’t get too much traffic going by so it won’t become obtrusive.
4. Wall Panels
Living room wall panels take various different forms. You can create your own panel board covered in a statement or textured wallpaper, framing each panel as elongated pieces of art. There’s a big trend in wall panelling for choosing a pale, even finish that a sculpture or architectural pendant light can cast a shadow against – very multi-layered.
But wall panels can also be similar to a picture wall if you work horizontally, evenly spacing (5cm is a good guide) several pieces of wall decor. Sometimes the panels come together to create one big image, other times they might be a series of block-coloured canvases by the same artist whose vision was to see them used in one ensemble. Or, it might be that you have several different pieces that complement each other that you just want to display in a panelled layout. Here, it’s best to hang them in a diptych or triptych pattern (essentially two or three panels of art that flow).
Image Credit: Rene Dekker
5. Wall Murals
Wall murals for living rooms can be a really beautiful way to bring character to your walls. One of our favourite techniques is to work with a specialist decorator to create a bas relief mural, where a design is sculpted into the wall and then painted over in the same tone as the rest of the room so only the rise and fall of the indentations make it visible.
“Murals are artworks that are incorporated into the fabric of the design,” says designer René Dekker, “They are part of the original thought process as opposed to something added afterwards. Bas reliefs especially give a three dimensional feeling to a scheme. If you took away all the furniture, the wall would still be a gorgeous topic of conversation.”
Image Credit: IMG NYC/Photography by Evan Joseph Photography
Your design should be informed by the art that you gravitate towards and can be as intricate as recreating a Baroque tapestry. They’re a living room wall decor idea that’s far less common to see, full of intrigue and abundant in soft texture.
Wherever you’re placing your mirror, make sure you don’t leave a large void below it. Take the fireplace for example – the mirror should sit 5-10cm above the mantelpiece. If you want to go higher, make sure you fill the gap with another object, like a mantel clock, an ornament, candlestick or sculpture.
"Using mirrors is two-fold in style purpose – the mirror creates an eye-catching focal point as well as visually expanding the space."
7. Gallery Walls
If you’ve got a huge wall to fill, finding one statement piece of wall decor to fill it can be difficult and expensive. This is where picture wall ideas for living rooms can be particularly helpful as they’ll fill the space just as well. To help ut to appear more curated, you can theme your gallery wall to create focus. A theme could be, all photographs, or all one particular colour palette, or having an assorted of frames could even be your picture wall’s ‘thing’. Equally, if you like the idea of spontaneity and freedom in your picture wall, combine photographs, framed posters, framed prints, paintings and an assortment of frame shape and size – this approach can often be more more striking because of its sheer eclecticism.