A piece of blue calming art hangs in an office.
June 30, 2024

8 Tips How To Use Art In Small Spaces (And Make Them Feel Bigger!)

So you think you don’t have any (more) space for art? 

You’ve found a piece of art you love, but you live in a small space, or you are downsizing, or all the walls that are prime art real estate in your home have already been filled. 

So there is no way you can buy that piece of art — no matter how much you love it, right? Wrong. 

Even if you are working with extremely limited space: There are a variety of ways how to use art in small and overlooked spaces and — bonus — make those spaces feel bigger along the way!

Here are eight tips interior designers swear by when it comes to finding ways how to buy art when you have little space available. 

And don’t forget: If any of this feels overwhelming, you can always let me take a look at your space and help you find a space for the art you love during one of my free in-person or online art consultations — book yours today!

Or start by taking advantage of my free digital mockup service to see how any of my artworks would look on your wall in different sizes before you hit that buy button!

#1: A WINDOW TO A LARGER WORLD: ART ADDS SPACE TO SMALL ROOMS

The first thing you need to understand about using art in small spaces is that a fine art photograph on your wall — no matter its size — adds a window to a larger world. All of a sudden, your happy place is just a glance away. That’s powerful.

So if you are looking for a way to make a small space seem bigger, there are few ways more powerful than with a piece of fine art photography that will open a window into your daydreams and make your happy places part of your daily life.

By the way: That window effect becomes especially pronounced when you highlight the artwork with spotlights.

Art collectors in the Lars Gesing Fine Art Nature Images photography gallery in West Seattle.

Collectors Buck and Deanne with a 20x40" acrylic float of THE FORTUITOUS MOMENT. Click here to learn more about this piece.

#2: BLUE ARTWORKS MAKE SMALL SPACES SEEM BIGGER

If you have limited space available, one of the most important considerations when choosing art for small spaces is color psychology — being aware of how different colors influence your mood and perception.

Few colors will come in as handy as blue in those instances. Color experts agree that the best color for making a space feel bigger is blue. It’s recessive, which means it draws the eye outward and gives the impression of never-ending space. 

Blue is also one of the most calming, meditative colors — which further expands small spaces psychologically and spiritually when those spaces otherwise may make us feel “boxed in.”

So if you have a small space, consider a piece of blue artwork to make it feel bigger.

#3: MAKE USE OF NARROW SPACES WITH PANORAMIC ART

Most of us don’t have a whole lot of wide, uninterrupted wall space in our homes. There’s windows, furniture, doors, shelves — you name it. More often than not, we have narrow spaces that end up blank because they are just kind of awkward.

No more! Those spaces are perfect places to consider for hanging art — especially when you don’t have a lot of space to begin with. I have a whole series of vertical panorama photography prints that are made for those kinds of narrow vertical spaces that can be odd to find a purpose for otherwise. 

“There’s always space for art,” says West Seattle interior designer Andrea Bushdorf laughingly. “If it’s a small space, but it has tall ceilings, you can use a vertical panorama to draw the eye upward. I love tall ceilings!”

And of course, I also have a variety of horizontal panorama photography prints that are perfect for narrow but wide spaces — like, for example, above a headboard in a peaceful bedroom.

A piece of Kauai water art hangs in an entryway.

MAKAI — SEAWARD | Kauai, HI | Highly Collectible Limited Edition of 99 | Click here to learn more about this piece.

#4: FOCAL POINTS ARE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IN SMALL SPACES

“Any space we walk into, the eye looks for what’s a comfortable path toward a place where it can rest,” Bushdorf also points out. That cornerstone design concept is equally true for small and big spaces. But because focal points give a space a sense of direction, they become even more important in small spaces that otherwise lack that kind of visual clarity and cohesive feel.

So think about how you can use art to draw the eye through the room when choosing art for small spaces. Maybe a piece of art at the end of the hallway gives it additional depth? Or the eye can start to make better sense of a small, crowded room by being drawn to a single larger piece of art on the wall that doesn’t compete for attention with a variety of other wall decor?

In case you have been wondering: Yes, that probably means choosing a bigger piece of art than what you’d normally pick given the size of the space, simply to make sure the eye really gets drawn to it. You might even want to think about pointing a spotlight at the artwork to further eliminate confusion where you want people to look first as they come into the room. 

To take the guesswork out of what exactly is the right size for that focal piece of art, take advantage of my free digital mockup service.

#5: DOWNSIZING? DON’T START WITH ART.

Ah… if I had a dollar for every time someone walked into my West Seattle art gallery, fell in love with a piece of art but said they couldn’t bring it home because they are downsizing… I’d be rich!

But I get it. If you are downsizing, the last thing you are thinking about is adding more “stuff” to your home. But that’s just it. Art isn’t stuff. Far from it. When you design a small(er) space, you want to steer clear of clutter and instead use purposeful design elements such as an attention-commanding piece of art to create a cohesive design.

Plus, as renowned Danish interior designer Katrine Martensen-Larsen points out, “once you start buying art, nothing is permanent. Things will constantly move around and change in your home.”

So, if you are downsizing, or if you already have more art than your walls can handle, don’t be afraid to rotate the art on display regularly to give your space a fresh feeling!

Lars Gesing with his bison photograph FAMILY BONDS.

FAMILY BONDS | Denver, CO | Highly Collectible Limited Edition of 50 | Click here to learn more about this image

#6: THESE ART-BUYING MISTAKES WOULD MAKE THE ROOM FEEL EVEN SMALLER. AVOID THEM.

Choosing art with the wrong primary color for your space: There is a common misconception to only use light and pale colors in small rooms because they make the space feel light and airy. But a bold accent color in an artwork will make a small space feel more interesting and therefore bigger. Rich colors give a small space identity and warmth.

Small art makes your space feel small: Another common misconception is that small spaces should only have small furnishings and artwork. That’s not the case, either. The rule is to think bigger and fewer, not smaller and more. Small spaces prioritize intention over clutter.

Adding clutter instead of purposeful design elements: …which brings me to the third mistake: Clutter is the number one enemy of small spaces. Choose a few sizable signature artworks rather than a seemingly random mishmash of incoherent wall decor.

And remember, my free in-home or online art consultations as well as my digital mockup service are waiting for you to take advantage of and confidently choose art that will make a small or limited space feel bigger!

The Lars Gesing Fine Art Nature acrylic photography blocks make great decor for small spaces.

FREESTANDING ACRYLIC BLOCKS | Great for gifts, shelves & desks | Click to learn more

#7: OVERLOOKED PLACES THAT COULD USE ART

Shelves and desks: Shelves and desks are the perfect spot for my small but mighty acrylic blocks (seen above). Use them to let your mind wander at a moment’s notice with art that takes you to your happy place — no wall space required!

Above kitchen cabinets, if you have a gap between the cabinets and the ceiling: Art belongs in the kitchen as much as in other rooms — after all, you want your kitchen to reflect your personality, don’t you? Use artwork to provide a pop of accent color for monochrome kitchens — or curate a selection of small scenes for a natural touch and arrange them in a small gallery wall. Want to go a step beyond? Highlight the artwork with spotlights.

Nooks and niches: Use artwork to make awkward corners a point of interest. You can use vertical panorama artworksmy mix-and-matchable 12x12” squares or my beautiful Art Boxes. Put a light on the art and make a once-awkward corner of the house an unexpected focal point.

West Seattle realtor Alice Kuder with her commissioned artwork from Lars Gesing Fine Art Nature Images.

#8: A COMMISSIONED ARTWORK IS THE PERFECT FIT FOR SMALL SPACES

All my artworks are custom-made. But if you have a view you can’t get enough of, the best way to make sure the art showing that very scene fits into your limited space living quarters is by commissioning a one-of-a-kind piece just for you.

In that case, we can go over space limitations before I ever create the photograph, and I can make sure that the final photograph in its aspect-ratio, size, orientation and framing perfectly fits the limited space you have available.

That’s exactly what West Seattle realtor Alice Kuder (the lovely woman in the photo above) did. Alice lives in a small bungalow-style home with very limited open wallspace. She often takes video calls from home. For years, it had been bugging her that the narrow wall behind her desk was empty, making for a boring backdrop for those video calls. So Alice asked me to create a vertical photograph of the blooming cherry blossom trees around the neighborhood that she loves so much. 

Now Alice has a one-of-a-kind artwork hanging in her office that’s perfectly tailored to that specific small space. Reach out today to talk about your artwork dreams!