Should you hang art above your bed? 5 ways to turn this blank space into a work of art

Interior designers share their advice and ideas for displaying art in the bedroom

Should you hang art above your bed?
(Image credit: Neptune / Future / Kitesgrove)

Many interior designers agree that art plays a key role in a successful interior scheme. Far more than just a finishing touch, it has the power to transform a space and is the perfect way to inject personality into every room.

Whether it's one large statement piece or a series of decorative objects brought back from travels, artwork can bring soul to plain spaces and helps turn a house into a home. 

'I feel no home is complete without art,' says Helen Armon-Jones, founder of The Art Buyer. 'Art can really help to define the feel of a space and be really transformative. As well as complementing a design scheme, it can also be the starting point for interior design, with the scheme taking its cues from the colors of a piece of art. It brings character, charm and personality to a home.'

As private spaces within the home, bedrooms are rooms where we should be free to truly express ourselves, so they make wonderful spaces to display artwork. For many, choosing bedroom art is the easy part, but when it comes to above-the-bed decor and decorating with art deciding on the best place to hang it can be tricky. 

Where in the bedroom should you hang artwork? Should you hang artwork above your bed? What type of artwork is best for a bedroom? If you're decorating your bedroom then these are questions you may well have pondered and they're certainly questions interior designers consider on each bedroom project they undertake. To help you decide where to position your artwork we asked the experts for their tips.

Should you hang art above your bed?

While it may not be the first question you ask when decorating a bedroom, where you hang artwork and whether you should hang art over your bed can impact the look and feel of the interior, so it's worth considering the options. 

You may have bought a piece for a specific spot, or perhaps a piece of artwork actually inspired the interior palette, in which case you will probably already have a good idea of where to hang it. However, if you're debating whether your bedroom needs that something extra, or you have beautiful artwork and want to find a position that does it justice, then it's worth giving it some thought. Of course, one drawback of hanging artwork above a bed is that you can't enjoy it on those lazy weekend lie-ins. Below we've rounded up some key things to consider with help from the experts as well as some inspiring display ideas.

1. Consider the existing design elements in the space

vintage bedroom with beams and floral feature wallpaper by Flora Roberts at Hamilton Weston

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

When decorating with art consider the other patterns and points of interest that already exist in the space as this may impact the type of artwork you choose. For example, if you have a richly patterned bedroom wallpaper or a statement headboard, or are planning to introduce these elements, then hanging artwork above the bed may be too overpowering, alternatively, it can look wonderful as part of a maximalist look. 

'When it comes to hanging paintings and placing art, it's important to consider the existing architecture and detail in the space, as if you have really striking details in the space already, then you may want paintings and artworks that are more minimalist to allow these details to shine through,' suggests Emma Deterding, founder and creative director, Kelling Designs (opens in new tab). 'If you have a blank canvas, however, then bringing in pieces with color and pattern that are bolder will help bring that character and life into a room.'

2. Take a cue from the architecture

cottage bedroom beams neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

Similarly, if you have a period property with beautiful architectural features behind the bed such as beams or exposed stone then you may want to consider keeping the walls blank as hanging artwork could distract from the character of the room. Alternatively, you could opt for something subtle. In this calming cottage bedroom by Neptune (opens in new tab) a small landscape compliments the rural charm of the cottage but also lets the beams take the lead in the space.

Fake square footage in a bedroom

(Image credit: Neptune)

Displaying a mix of artworks in different sizes and styles as part of a gallery wall above the bed is a wonderful way to create a focal point in a bedroom and is guaranteed to bring a quirky touch to an otherwise plain space. It can be a great way to liven up neutral bedrooms, but they can also look wonderful set against colorful bedroom wall ideas, as demonstrated in this stylish scheme by Neptune.

'For a gallery wall, lay them out on the floor first to make sure all the shapes and colors work well together,' says Clara Ewart, head of design at Kitesgrove (opens in new tab). 'You can also template each frame on paper and temporarily stick them on the wall using masking tape until you get the layout right. Smaller scale artworks and line drawings work well in a gallery style, while larger, bolder pieces tend to be more comfortable displayed on their own with some room to breathe.'

4. Make a statement with one large piece

Large artwork over the bed

(Image credit: Future)

If you're lucky enough to have a bedroom with high ceilings then hanging a large striking piece can be a great way to make the most of the space, plus it will let the artwork really shine. 'More often than not, a client looks for one large piece to act as a unifier of the design scheme in a space, taking cues from existing furniture and decor,' says Emma Deterding, however, if you're looking for a bit of drama, why not choose something daring in contrasting colors? 

‘Don't be afraid to put very contemporary art in a traditional space, or vice versa, it is often the merging of seemingly incongruous styles that creates beauty through surprise,’ says Martin Waller, the founder of global design brand Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).

5. Create an elegant look with a grid arrangement

Bedroom with gallery wall over bed

(Image credit: Kitesgrove)

Displaying artworks of a similar size in a grid or line format is a good way to add interest to a bedroom whilst keeping it feeling calming and timeless. Plus, if you're looking to create a relaxing bedroom you can't go wrong with artwork inspired by nature.

gray bedroom with black iron bed, artwork, floral cushions, oatmeal throw, tiny wall mounted bedside, wall light

(Image credit: Kitesgrove )

Should art be hung portrait or landscape?

Ultimately the way you hang artwork will depend on the artwork in question and personal preference, however some suggest the orientation of artwork can have an impact on the feel of the space. 

Speaking to modern wall art destination Green & Lilli (opens in new tab), Kimberley, the founder of the School of Holistic Design (opens in new tab) and a pioneer of the Life+Design Method™ suggests that, 'hanging art vertically commands more presence and feels more active. Hanging art horizontally offers a more calming presence and has greater gravity.' With this in mind, hanging landscape artwork may be preferable in rooms where you are looking to create a relaxed atmosphere such as bedrooms.

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.