5 Options for Filling the Blank Space Above your Sofa

Is the sofa in your Airbnb's living room in front of a big blank wall?  A blank wall always seems to grow and become more boring once the sofa is positioned in front, right? It can be overwhelming knowing what to do with this prominent blank canvas. 

However, there are a lot of different ways to bring that wall to life, and I'm here to help!

Let's break down the options and look at some beautiful examples done by some amazing designers. 

(1) The Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are always fun and can really allow your creativity to soar with the endless options for what to add.  Also, they can be less expensive than buying large pieces of real art, depending on your approach. However, I totally get that the term "endless options" is enough to send many of you into a tizzy of anxiety, and I get it. I am the exact same way without a well thought through plan.

How about a mini-tutorial?! Let's dive in:

(a) Think through your Color Palette

The first thing to consider is your color palette. Do you have a color palette selected? If not, then start with this blog post. Having a tight and consistent color palette for your space will eliminate a lot of stress and give you the start to a road map for your endless decorating selections. 

Emily Henderson, aka color play genius, is hands down one of my favorite designers, and I'll reference her work a lot to teach by example. In her design below, she repeats various shades of pink, blue, and yellow in all of the artwork, as well as the sofa and pillows below. You also see hints of green, but the color pops are predominately pink, blue and yellow. We'll talk more about frames in a bit, but I want to also point out that she uses only white and natural wood frames, which makes this gallery feel cohesive but not too flat. 

 

(above image: Design by Emily Henderson)

(b) Placement

After color, you'll want to consider how much of your wall you'd like your collage to take up. Ideally, you'll fill up at least 1/2, or more ideally 2/3 of the wall above the sofa at the very least. 

Think through the overall shape you're going for. Here are a few tips to consider while planning your wall:

  1. If you're going for symmetry, you'll need to be careful about measuring and marking your wall carefully. However, if you're aiming for an asymmetrical design, don't be afraid to test things in a certain spot by putting a few extra holes in the wall as you go. It's easy to spackle and paint over a small hole, and chances are you may cover it with another frame by the time you're done.
  2. The spacing on an asymmetrical gallery wall does not need to be perfect. It's meant to be a little off. The inconsistent spacing actually helps your eyes move around and take it all in, so play around with what looks best on your wall.
  3. Creating the perfect wall for you may take some time. Have patience, the slower you acquire and collect, the more meaningful and interesting your wall will become. To ensure you're making good purchasing decisions and that everything will go well together, keep photos on your phone of the pieces you currently have. That way when you're strolling an open market on a Saturday with your best friend and you find something you think may work, you can be confident you're making a good decision by referencing your collection. Don't stress, and have fun with it! 


(above image Design by Studio Gild)

Your gallery can take up the entire wall and have a lot of pieces, or it can be more simple and have some symmetry. It also can go just behind the sofa go all the way to the ceiling for a feeling of grandeur.

Gallery walls also do not have to fill a rectangle. For a more eclectic look, you could let it jet out and let a piece sort of float away. All of these decisions are based on what you personally like the most. You can decide how you want it shaped, without getting into the details of where each piece is going, and start gathering all your pieces.

(above image: Via Andrew Beasley Photography)

(c) Framing

The living room shown below has an eclectic flare thanks in part to the many different frame styles used on the wall. There are thin modern frames, mixed with a country cream beveled frame, mixed with a very traditional dark wood frame. Don't be afraid to mix and match! 

If you're looking for a good online frame resource, here are some of my favorites: Framebridge; Art to Frame; Etsy <----just one Etsy option linked. Explore the vast Etsy site to fit your needs! ).


(above image: Emily Henderson Design // Photography by Tessa Neustadt)

(2) Wallpaper

Wallpaper can be an investment, but it will instantly grab the attention of your potential guests. This will be your homes focal point, and will make you stand out from the crowd when your guests are scrolling through the app looking for a great place to stay. 

I love the look of art layered over wallpaper! It adds depth and interest and makes the art look more grounded and less like it's floating in a large solid abyss of painted drywall.

(above image: Design by Sarah Sherman Samuel)

Even without any art, wallpaper has an almost magical ability to transform a space into something completely different than it was before. It gives the room a layer of depth and whimsy that can feel vibrant and alive. I love how the chandelier hangs down over this graphic black and white wall paper below. 

Choosing one wallpaper may be more comfortable and less time consuming than choosing several pieces of art and deciding their placement. It's still a big decision though, so make sure and get a sample before you order your rolls!


 (above image: Design by Becki Owens)

 

(above image: Design by Emily Henderson)

(3) Organic Shapes

If you are not inspired by pieces of framed art or wallpaper, then you could explore other forms of art to place on your wall. For example, these woven baskets add a touch of antiquity while pulling the outdoors in. Remember an odd number of items will always be more pleasing to the eye.


(above image: Design by Bonnie Miller via Country Living)

 

Other trendy organic objects to consider: macrame, and tapestries


(above image: MyMacramania via Etsy) 

 

Plants are also a wonderful way to (literally) add life to a space. They are all different which adds a bit of magic to the room. Think of them as little inexpensive sculptures! Search for unique shelves for your plants like in the image below, or you can hang them. 

Adding live greenery works for any space, any style! Don't be afraid to kill a few along the way. Unintended plant murder is just a part of the journey towards a green thumb!

(above image: Via Kaekoo)

(4) Float Your Sofa

Depending on your living room's shape and layout, you could float your sofa in the room. 


(above image: by Anthropologie via HGTV blog)

Placing your furniture in front of your window allows for natural light to spill in on the most used spot-- that comfy sofa. You can also incorporate fun curtains to add more interest, and intriguing art to the side if you still have some wall space to fill. I adore how Justina Blakeney styled this room: a table behind the sofa full of plants, deep teal curtains to draw your eye out, and a painting on the side that keeps your eye roaming around the room looking for more detail.

 

(above image: Design by Justina Blakeney via Apartment Therapy)

A shelf + art behind a floating sofa can add height and ground the room with its visual weight. The below example is an excellent use of asymmetry. 

(above image: Via Style Eddies Studio

 

Floating your sofa in front of a fireplace is always a great idea. Adding art, candlesticks, and cute figurines is a rather easy way to add activity behind the sofa.

(above image: Design by A Beautiful Mess)

(5) Floating Shelves

Floating shelves above a sofa can be a fun way to add personality and more plants! You could choose one simple larger piece of art, like in the example below, and add shelves to the other side for balance.

(above image: Design by Chris and Julia/Via Chris Love Julia)

A shelf can also be an uncomplicated way to display some cool art. Unlike the gallery wall, it takes less planning and fewer holes in the wall. It's simple and clean-lined for a more contemporary look. 

(above image: Design by New Darlings)

 

I hope this leaves you feeling a bit more inspired and a lot less overwhelmed. Best of luck, and tag me on Social Media to let me know you're you're doing styling your big blank walls! 

Cheering you on all the way! XO

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