Last Updated: Jan 30, 2018
If you’re a little stuck on what to do with a blank wall, don’t worry: you’re not alone. Most people find it difficult to come up with a decorating scheme from scratch, whether it’s for a living room, bedroom or another favorite spot in the house. Luckily, knowing how to decorate a wall isn’t complicated once you know the basics.
Our guide offers 20 wall decor ideas, from hanging photos to creating balance to adding personal style. Bring your entire room to life with a few simple touches and techniques, and be sure to personalize your decor with unique wall art.
1. Choose only the best photos for print
Have oodles of photos from a family vacation or recent gathering? It can be tempting to print them all—but instead, be selective. Sort through your photos and only select images that are eye-catching, like those that capture action, have vivid color or incorporate nature.
By being choosy, your wall decorations will look more polished and professional. Don’t have enough photos to fill your space? Check out our family photo ideas to use next time your camera’s out!
2. Step away from a single straight line
Though it may seem intuitive to hang artwork in a straight line, it rarely garners an emotional or visual response. To bring personality and life to your bedroom or living room wall decor, arrange your pieces at varying levels and heights. Alter the amount of space between photos in a balanced fashion, so your wall has aesthetic appeal but isn’t messy.
3. Be overly precise
Just like coloring outside of the lines can look messy, so can artwork that is not hung properly. For professional looking wall decorations, be meticulous when placing your photos. Use a measuring tape, level and pencil to ensure your photos are straight and well-spaced.
Before you lug out your toolbox, consider where on the wall you’d like your artwork. Will your photos be placed in the center or off to one side? Having a placement plan will reduce your work, and make for a more polished end result.
4. Bring in the greenery
Add a splash of color and contrast by arranging a potted plant near the wall, either on the floor or on a shelf, desk or side table. Green plants are especially effective if you’re wanting to create a peaceful and tranquil ambience—or one with an edgy, fresh feel.
5. Create a colored wall backdrop
That’s right, you no longer have to wonder what to do with a blank wall. A single color of paint can brighten your entire room—and it’s one of the easiest projects to do. Choose a paint color by considering what matches the style and tone of your furniture and other decor. Paint an accent wall (and yes, it can be only one!) to add depth and dimension to your space.
Once the paint is dry, layer on your artwork to create wall decor that bubbles with personality. For best results, choose photos that include your wall color, or choose a wall color that corresponds with your desired photos.
6. Incorporate inspirational quotes
Want an easy way to add special meaning and personality to your living room, kitchen or bedroom? Frame your favorite quotes and intersperse them with photo prints. By having this contrast, you’ll create visual balance and a resting place for the eyes. Plenty of prints are available online, or you can design your own with fancy fonts and simple imagery.
7. Don’t be afraid of big photo prints
It’s common for folks to go small with their art instead of big. When prints are too small for a room, though, they look awkward and out of place. Counteract this by ordering large wall art, like a panoramic piece. With this simple change, you’ll make your wall pop and adequately fill the space.
8. Add in mirrors
Mirrors tend to make rooms seem larger, so adding them to your wall decor is especially beneficial in a small living room or bedroom. Intersperse mirrors in your layout, next to and above your photos. When choosing your mirrors, coordinate with picture frame colors and other decor in the space.
9. Bring in the frames
Spice up your wall decor by ensuring at least one or two of your pieces is surrounded by a high-quality frame. This brings attention to your wall decorations and adds dimension. Feel free to mix and match your frame type and color, but remember that simple is usually better—like all white or all black pieces. To tie the room together, coordinate your frame style with existing furniture, walls and floors.
10. Create photo ledges
If you’re looking for kitchen, living room or bedroom wall decor that pops with personality, consider photo ledges. Rather than hanging all of your photos directly on the wall, lean them on a simple ledge or shelving unit. If you’re using colorful artwork, choose a neutral color for your ledge, like white, brown or black. Arrange your ledges at different heights to build visual energy and contrast.
11. Develop a photo theme
Build unity across your wall decorations by choosing photos within the same theme—such as summertime, travel or family memories. To pick a theme, consider the general vibe you want for the room. Will it be a family gathering spot, a serene space or one with an edgy feel? From there, choose your favorite photos and create a spread that emits the energy you’re going for.
12. Create a visually balanced photo spread
Make your wall decor seem like it was put together by an interior designer. First, utilize different photo sizes and shapes to create symmetry and balance. Second, arrange your photos using a horizontal centerline as your foundation. In other words, build an open straight line of empty wall space across the center of your design. Place your artwork evenly above and below the line. You’ll end up with a proportional layout that’s sure to shout “professional!”
13. Map out photo placement ahead of time
Like an itinerary for a trip or an outline for an essay, planning your photo arrangement ensures your wall decor will be precise. For an easy method, cut pieces of paper in the same shapes and sizes as your artwork. Use a measuring tape to define your layout and secure your “mock photos” (the pieces of paper) with painter’s tape. Adjust the mock photos until they’re in the exact place you want. Draw light markings on the wall with a pencil, designating where you’ll hang the photos.
14. Design a Washi tape pattern
Easy to use and available in a wide range of colors, Washi tape is a simple tool for bringing extra flavor to your walls. Design a diagonal, vertical or horizontal pattern to create stripes, squares or zig zags. Once you have this backdrop just how you want it, hang your photos and wall art. Washi tape can be used in kitchen spaces, living rooms or for bedroom wall decor.
15. Aim for eye level
Where exactly on the wall should you place your art? Well, designers often suggest photos and other artwork to be at eye level, allowing for easy viewing. This also ensures photos are not too high or too low on the wall. Above all, though, your photos should look appropriate in relation to the whole room. You may need to consider the height of your furniture (if you have large pieces) or the height of the ceiling (if it’s especially low or tall).
16. Build out from a focal point
Have a particularly vivid or special photograph? Use it as a focal point in your wall gallery. A focal point catches the viewer’s eye and draws attention to the wall. From there, the eye wanders to the surrounding pieces, allowing each one to be noticed and appreciated.
If you’re unsure which photo to choose as a focal point, place several next to each other and pay attention to which one you are naturally drawn to look at first.
17. Match style and color with room decor
Imagine living room wall decor that didn’t match the style and vibe of the rest of the room. It would feel a bit “off” and the beauty of the artwork wouldn’t be realized. To avoid this, choose photos and frames that align with the overall style and colors of your existing room.
Things to consider are your wall color, furniture, rugs and lighting. This doesn’t mean everything should match piece for piece, but that the colors and styles correlate.
18. Mix your sizes and shapes
The human eye is naturally attracted to visual diversity. A healthy mix of photo sizes and shapes draws the eye in and boosts your wall decor from average to stunning. Alternate between square and rectangle photos, for example, or mix in circular pieces. Arrange some photos vertically and others horizontally to build contrast.
19. Create a gallery effect
One of the easiest yet effective ways to decorate a wall is by creating a wall gallery. When executed successfully, it becomes the focal point of the room and adds a whole lot of life and energy to the space. Choose your favorite photos and arrange them in a way that is both organized yet creative. If you’re needing a boost of inspiration, check out our gallery wall ideas.
20. Maximize and fill your space
Avoid awkward open spaces on your wall by maximizing coverage of its width and height. If your wall is especially wide, create a large photo arrangement that stretches from side to side. If you have a tall wall, consider stretching your photos further up. Though there’s no need to cover each and every space, utilizing the breadth of your wall fosters a cozy, home-like feel. If you have a specific gallery wall style in mind, read our “How to make a gallery wall” article.
Are you ready to fill your blank wall in style? Use the tips from our guide to create wall decor that matches your personality and offers fresh energy to the room. For an arrangement that matches your vision and brings life to your home, create a layout with our design-a-wall tool.