Q. I want to make a feature with a painting over the fireplace but I don’t know how to choose the right piece. What should I think about? (Melanie Ashwood, Bristol)

A. The most important thing to remember is that you should start with the artwork and work from there. Once you’ve found the perfect painting or print, pick your accent colours from it and then look to repeat these in your accessories and soft furnishings. Starting the other way around can result in too many compromises on the piece you select.

The following are three things to think about when selecting artworks for the space above your fireplace:

Fill the Space

One of the most common mistakes is choosing something too small. You’ll probably need a larger piece than you think.

The old-school rule of thumb is that the artwork (or mirror) should be around two thirds the width of the fire surround and mantel. But times are changing and breaking the rules can really add impact if done well. Like the example, create a fabulous focal point by filling the space almost to the ceiling.

Be Relaxed About It

As an alternative to hanging on the wall, placing a piece of art directly on the mantelpiece – like it’s a shelf – is a great way to create a more relaxed laid-back feeling.

In this example, the painting alone would not be enough for the space but accessories placed with the painting balance the piece and create a lovely contemporary feeling.

Go Bold

Painted feature walls are still very popular and can create fantastic focal points when it comes to fireplaces.

If you have a dark fireplace wall, go bold with complementary / similar dark colours in the artwork.

In the example, the serious dark blue is perfectly juxtaposed with the playful pink. Small pops of a bright colour repeated carefully can add sophistication and interest to a room.

Top Tip…

Don’t fall into the trap of lining up the artwork with the edge of the mantelpiece. Go for something that’s wider or narrower, otherwise everything is too symmetrical.

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