How to Decorate Above Your Sofa: 16 Inspiring Ideas

Ottoman Coffee Table
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The wall space above your sofa has some serious design potential, as it's a focal point in almost every living room. But how do you fill that space when you don't even know what would look good there?

Start by exploring your options, saving pictures of rooms you like, and choosing your favorite decor inspiration. From there, it comes down to finding the best one to complement and enhance your living space.

"For example, if your living room is full of art pieces on other walls, adding a floating shelf to hold some of your favorite books and plants would be a great way to maximize vertical storage area and add something interesting to that wall," says interior designer Dai'Jah Wroten at Mackenzie Collier Interiors. "On the other hand, if your space needs color and texture, adding art or hanging wall pieces to the space above the sofa would be best."

We're here to make your job easier and help you decide how to decorate above your sofa. With 16 of our favorite decor ideas, you're sure to find something that fits your style. Ready to get inspired?

Meet the experts

To compile these ideas for how to decorate above your sofa we consulted with a range of interior design and decoration experts, including: 

1. Oversized Mirror

Oversized mirror
Credit: Allison Smith Design, photographed by Kitta Bodmer

Large mirrors are a great way to make your living room look larger, as they reflect light and create an open appeal. Mirrors tend to amplify whatever they reflect, so you'll want to hang them across from something visually appealing or soothing.

Placing mirrors across from or near windows is best, as the reflected natural light will brighten your room and make it appear larger. But, of course, artwork and other home decor features are good options, too.

For example, we see artwork and a small window reflected in the oversized mirror above. The mirror is leaning against the wall with a floor lamp in front, which will have an extra bright impact thanks to the reflection. Alternately, you might try flanking your oversized mirror with a pair of sconces to add more light to your living room.

You can either hang a large mirror above your sofa or lean one against the wall like we see here. Both approaches create an eye-catching look that's sure to be a conversation starter.

2. Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall

The gallery wall above your sofa look was recommended by Anna Franklin. Gallery walls have been getting a lot of attention lately, and they're increasingly popular in home decor.

Adding one piece to your gallery made from something different, like the chalkboard beside the framed posters above, creates variety and excitement in your decor. For example, you might hang various baskets or wall plates on your wall and mix in a mirror or hang several framed paintings with a single tapestry.

Try to pick pieces that share a color palette for a cohesive appeal. And arrange your gallery wall on the floor to find the perfect look before hanging everything on the wall.

Pro tip: You might also want to explore creating a boho-style basket gallery wall.

3. One Large Piece of Art

Large Art

"One way to decorate the space above a sofa that I have really been enjoying is the use of oversized artwork," Dai'Jah Wroten told Living Cozy. "It makes a big statement and makes the room feel larger, as it spans across the majority of the wall."

A single large piece of art above your sofa can give your whole living area a makeover. Pick something that works well with the color palette of your living room if you're revamping your existing space. Alternately, if you're decorating a space from scratch, base the room's palette on the colors in your large painting.

Pro tip: As long as your painting isn't larger than your sofa, bigger is usually better. "When you consider the expanse of a wall and the relatively large scale of a sofa compared to your room, you're looking for something substantial to hang behind it. 8x10 photos just won't do," adds Alison Smith.

4. Multiple Shelves

Shelves

Multiple large shelves above your sofa can create depth, dimension, and versatility in your space. And if you don't have the square footage for a console table, adding shelving behind your sofa can also introduce valuable storage space.

You could use them as bookshelves for a library-style look, or you might go for a more modern look like in this image. Here, you see multiple framed pictures, travel souvenirs, books, vases, and a houseplant, all nested neatly above the sofa.

Pro Tip: Try to keep your space's color palette in mind when choosing items to display on shelves above your sofa. And remember to move the sofa away from the wall enough that you don't hit your head on the shelves when you get up!

5. Paint a Feature Wall

Feature Wall

"One of my favorite options is creating a feature wall behind the sofa," Amy Stansfield told Living Cozy, and we couldn't agree more. Feature walls, also known as accent walls, can work well to add color to an otherwise neutral-toned space.

Choose a color that works well with your room's palette, and don't be afraid to play with dark or bold colors. Here, we see a modern minimalist living room with unique lighting and a gem-toned accent wall. The bright white walls, colorful furniture, and subtle accents complete the look.

While feature walls are usually reserved for homeowners who can paint their walls, renters will sometimes get lucky with a "built-in" feature wall. If you have a brick wall or wood-paneled wall in your living room, try positioning your sofa in front of it and picking a color palette that works well with the look.

6. Frame a Map

Map above sofa

Are you the wanderlust type, always planning your next trip? Or is there a place somewhere that's special to you? If so, try hanging a map over your sofa to create an engaging, global appeal.

You might hang a historical map above your sofa as we see here, or you could embrace your inner traveler and pick something like a scratch-off map to track your progress around the globe. And remember to take the color palette of your living room into account when you're choosing your map.

7. Multiple Large Pieces of Art

Artwork above sofa
Credit: Allison Smith Design, photographed by Kitta Bodmer.

Hanging multiple large wall art pieces above your sofa often has an elegant, modern appeal. And this approach makes it easy to create balance by using paintings from the same set. This look works exceptionally well if you arrange them with symmetry in mind, as demonstrated in this beautiful living room.

It's up to you whether you'd like to hang multiple large paintings in a row or create a grid of four or even six canvases, two rows high. And for sizing, it's best if your arrangement is at least two-thirds the width of your sofa but less than the sofa's full width.

If you're not using artwork from the same set, choose pieces with similar sizes and colors for a cohesive look that will bring your space together.

Pro tip: Position the artwork 4" to 6" above the back of your sofa for the best results. And be sure to pick artwork that goes with the palette in your living room.

8. Wall Clock

Wall Clock above sofa

Wall clocks have a timeless appeal that can fit in with almost any living room, no matter your style. You'll find hundreds of options online, from minimalist to modern, with everything in between.

Hang your wall clock hung just above eye level to draw the gaze up the wall and command attention. As you can see here, if you frame your wall clock, the blank space around the wall clock makes it a more impactful design feature without dominating the rest of your decor.

9. Unique or Decorative Lighting

Lamp behind sofa

Lighting in the living room helps create your style while serving many purposes in your home. For example, you have lights that help with tasks, those that provide ambient lighting, and others that function as an accent for artwork or wall decor.

Here, we see several types of lighting in this open apartment, creating versatility in this bright area. Also, notice how the bright lights and white walls make this smaller living room appear spacious and inviting.

Try adding a floor lamp to one side of your sofa (or behind it, if you have room). And we recommend that you opt for warm-toned lightbulbs to make your living room feel cozier!

Pro Tip: If you'd like to go for truly unique lighting, consider installing an LED strip behind your sofa. Find a flat, flexible strip and use your creativity to hang it in a fun and swishing shape of your choice.

10. Textiles

Credit: Maggie Stephens Interiors project, photographed by Delbarr Moradi Photography

"I love to do something unexpected, like a large textile," says Maggie Stephens. "It's also a budget-friendly way to get something large scale."

Textile wall art is having a moment and with good reason. You might display a woven tapestry, a knit or crochet blanket, a quilt, an embroidered wall hanging, a rug, or a DIY macrame project above your sofa. Whatever you choose, it's sure to add depth, texture, and character to your home.

If you're working with a large wall, try a sizable textile wall hanging above your sofa — this works particularly well with sectionals and oversized sofas. And if you're working with limited square footage, try two or three smaller textile hangings to avoid making the room look small and closed off.

As Maggie noted above, textiles can be pretty affordable, whether you're hanging an expansive single piece or multiple smaller ones. In addition, you can find creative ideas for making your own macrame art, quits, and even woven tapestries. Alternatively, you might check thrift shops to find a discount price on a large textile or go deal hunting online.

Pro Tip: Try hanging a large textile in an apartment living room to dampen sound between you and your neighbors. Wall hangings like these can also help keep your home warmer.

11. Create an Accent Wall

Accent Wall behind sofa

Accent walls can add texture and depth to your living room without dominating the space. It's an excellent option for renters who want to add a feature wall but cannot paint or modify their homes.

There's something for every style with this approach, whether you install a large panel as we see behind this neutral-toned sofa or a DIY moss wall to bring a touch of nature into your space. Look for something with a large pattern and neutral or natural colors to balance your space.

If you're a fan of antiques, we recommend heading to a local antique shop to search for unique privacy panels and room dividers to use as wall accents.

12. Wallpaper

Wallpaper above sofa
Credit: Bobbi Beck

In case you haven't noticed, wallpaper is making a comeback right now, and it's only gaining in popularity as more designers jump on this trend. Many modern homes feature wallpaper as an accent wall behind the sofa, adding color, pattern, and styling.

"Wallpaper can be a great backdrop for a sofa, adding depth and interest to a blank wall," says James Mellan-Matulewicz. "If the wallpaper is more of a maximalist design, it can typically be left alone. If it's on the more subtle side, pairing it with prints or artwork can also provide layers of depth."

The wall in this image is a great example of a bold design that can stand independently without the need for prints or artwork.

13. Abstract Art

Abstract art above sofa
Credit: Allison Smith Design, photographed by Kitta Bodmer.

Abstract art comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and it's an excellent choice if you need to breathe some life into your living room. Here, we see contrasting natural colors with abstract geometric designs, creating energy and character in the room.

Notice how the mirror reflects the art above the sofa from this angle, amplifying its effect. Even the poufs mirror the artwork above the sofa with their geometric designs. And if you notice the throw pillows and area rug, they also feature a similar pattern.

This is an excellent example of decorating around a striking piece of abstract artwork. If you're designing a living room from the ground up, try choosing your abstract work first and growing the rest of the space around it.

14. Houseplants

Plants above sofa

Every home has room for plants. Houseplants make it easy to add life, color, texture, and depth to the space above your sofa. And while they might not clean the air in your home, there's no denying that houseplants are refreshing to look at every day.

This living room features a good blend of plants, with a large olive tree to one side and a shelf of plants behind the sofa. Notice how the plants share the wall with artwork, creating more variety and interest in the design.

Try adding a tall plant or tree alongside small houseplants on a shelf or placing several large houseplants behind your sofa.

Pro tip: If you don't have a green thumb, you can still get this look with faux plants. Just be sure to dust regularly to keep them looking nice.

15. Floating Shelves

Floating shelves above sofa

"One of my favorites is floating shelving with well-arranged items on top. Sentimental photographs, souvenirs from traveling, or a beautiful candle. These are personal and far from generic, making your home unique," says Amy Stansfield of WallSauce.

Floating shelves help anchor and balance the space above your sofa while adding extra storage. And while wall decor and paintings look great above your couch, they're not nearly as versatile.

A set of sturdy floating shelves like those seen here can hold your favorite decorative items while giving your living room added depth. Plus, you can redecorate your shelves and try new wall decor ideas whenever the mood strikes, which is perfect for those who change up their space frequently.

Pro Tip: Move the sofa away from the wall so that you don't hit your head on the floating shelves every time you get up.

16. Leave Blank Space

Blank wall above sofa
Credit: Allison Smith Design, photographed by Kitta Bodmer.

"Another thing to consider is just leaving the wall blank," noted interior designer Alison Smith. "Depending on the style of the room and what other things you have going on in it, you may not need to style behind the sofa."

Allison Smith is the designer behind the beautiful room featured above and, as you can see, sometimes you don't need to decorative above your sofa. Leaving empty space in your living room can make the area appear calmer and more open.

This works well if you're going for a minimalist look or working with a small space. While the living room above features a grey sofa, this approach can also help balance out any colorful furniture to keep it from overwhelming the area.

Pro tip: White walls with plenty of natural light will brighten your living room, making it appear larger. Try this if you're working with limited square footage.

How Large Should a Picture Be Behind a Sofa?

The rule of thumb is that any artwork or accents should be a minimum of two-thirds the width of your sofa. This helps create a balanced focal point in your space.

However, there aren't hard rules in interior design. For example, some designers prefer to take up more space on a large wall, extending the size nearly as wide as the sofa. And others use wall hangings that are only half the sofa's width. So it's up to you!

Here's what the experts had to say on the matter:

  • "The number one mistake I see people make is hanging a piece that's too small for the area. The piece, whatever it may be, should generally be about two-thirds the width of the sofa — whether it is one large piece or a series of smaller pieces combined," says Anna Franklin, interior designer and founder of Stone House Collective.
  • "One mistake that many people make when decorating above their sofa is hanging something too small," commented interior designer Dai'Jah Wroten. "Whatever you hang above your sofa should span at least two-thirds the size of your sofa. Also, if hanging a shelf, you want to be sure that it has a smaller depth and is mounted high enough to avoid bumping your head."

If you want to hang a piece that's much smaller than your sofa, pair it with other art and wall decor for a gallery wall or a multi-piece grid arrangement.

Written by
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.
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