ReDESIGNS by Ava: Picture Perfect

“No living room is complete without art. Having said that, what one person considers art can vary drastically from another. What most people can agree on is that no room is complete without something on the walls.” ~Laura Flanagan

When we were newlyweds, we lived in one of the oldest houses in Mebane, NC. Other than my wedding picture, I had nothing to hang on the walls, and like the quote above, the rooms didn’t look complete. I took a few oil painting classes, finished a piece or two of crewel embroidery and counted cross-stitch and voila`… I had a few pieces to hang on the walls to help our house feel more like home.

In the early ‘70s magazines and friends’ homes were the only places I could go to look for inspiration. Now there are so many sources available for viewing. Websites like HGTV, Houzz, Pinterest, etc. and, of course, magazines either online or by subscription, offer many ideas and inspirations…I am thankful!

Wall art doesn’t have to be expensive. You can shop consignment stores, yard sales, and the like, and find really great pieces. You can decorate your walls with ‘found’ architectural pieces, a large mirror, an oversized clock, framed old maps or even frame your children’s artwork to give your house personality and it will feel more like home.

The #1 decorating mistake most people make is hanging their artwork too high. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Above a sofa: (1) the piece of art or grouping should fill up at least 2/3s the width of the sofa (can go over but don’t go too much under). (2) If hanging a grouping of two or more pieces, make sure the space between each piece is the same, approximately 2” to 4” apart. (3) Hang 6” to 8” above the sofa.
  • Over a mantle: Again the 2/3s rule applies here…..fill up at least 2/3s of the mantle width. Hang 4” to 6” above mantle or if the art is taller than 3’ consider leaning it on the mantle.
  • Over a console table or buffet: Use the 2/3s rule here also to find the size of the art or mirror needed. Hang 4” to 6” above. If hanging a mirror, adjust the height so as to not cut the head off of the reflection of the person that might be using it. Hanging it too far above will disconnect it from the piece below.
  • On a wall: Hanging a picture ‘eye level’ is not a good idea. Eye level for me (I’m 5’7”) and eye level for my brother (he’s 6’ 3”) are two different eye levels. The rule of thumb is an average eye level: artwork that will be viewed standing, like in a hallway, should be hung approximately 60” from the floor to the center height of the picture. Artwork that will be hung where people are almost always seated, like a dining room or family room, should be hung 3” to 4” lower (56” to 57” from floor to center height of picture).


  • Position art on the wall opposite a seating arrangement so you and your guests can enjoy it.
  • Hang family photos on a wall where light is coming in from a window will not damage or fade the photos.
  • Never hang a mirror where guests will constantly see themselves when seated. Not that your guests aren’t beautiful, but always hang a mirror where it reflects something beautiful.
  • For great ideas on designing a gallery wall, check out Pinterest.

Following these guidelines will keep you from making the #1 decorating mistake and your home will be ‘picture perfect.’

When I’m out and about, I occasionally meet people who tell me they read my column in Forsyth Woman. It is always exciting to know my column has helped you create a beautiful home. Need help with an Interior Redesign or a decorating project? Give ReDESIGNS by Ava a call to schedule an appointment.