10 Things to Put Above Your Sofa

Get creative ideas to fill that empty wall behind the couch.

I often find myself – typically after Netflix asks me if I’m still watching reruns of Friends and the remote is out of reach – staring up at the empty wall above my couch.





I had been holding off on filling that space until I picked out a side table and a lamp. Now that the living room is complete, I'm ready for wall decor. Here are a handful of my favorite ideas:

Living Room With Vintage Artwork and Mirror

Living Room With Vintage Artwork and Mirror

Play with symmetry and scale by centering an oversized mirror directly above the sofa, then flanking it with similarly scaled art.

Photo by: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Rustic White Photography, LLC

1. Mirrors

Mirrors bounce light around a room, they're great for brightening and opening up tight spaces like mine.

Contemporary Neutral Living Area With Black Sofa and White Rug

Cozy Family Room Features Playful Lighting

Whimsical lighting steals the show in this cozy family room. Behind the sofa, string lights gracefully adorn the wall, and above the armchair, a lighted art installation adds a cool, crisp pattern to the space.

Photo by: Claire Esparros for Homepolish

Claire Esparros for Homepolish

2. Lights

Is there anything string lights can't do? If you really want to make a statement, build this dreamy constellation wall art.

3. Art

Photos, paintings, maps – put it in a frame and you've got art. And you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on custom framing, either. Try searching thrift stores for frames, then give them a quick coat of spray paint in any color you like. Don't worry if the glass front is missing – you can pick up a new sheet of glass at your local hardware store, and many will even cut it to size for you.

Gallery Wall Quick-Tips

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Pick a Spot

The obvious first step in creating a gallery wall is choosing your wall. If you have closets full of art, think big. Smaller gallery walls also give great impact. Take into consideration less obvious spots for clusters of pictures like over an entry way table, up a staircase or above a bed.

Photo By: © Rustic White Photography; LLC

A Gallery Wall Should Come to You

The most effective gallery walls are the ones built with art and trinkets that have been collected and curated as opposed to the ones where the pieces were all bought in ibe day. Flea markets, thrift stores, Etsy, your grandmother’s house and a child’s craft table are all great places to start.

To Theme or Not to Theme

There are several styles of gallery walls. If you prefer a clean and minimal look, use pieces in the same color scheme and in similar frames or a theme like family portraits.  Bohemian more your vibe? Mix matched frames, styles and textures will magically come together once hung on a wall side by side.

Creating a Game Plan

Once the wall has been selected and the pictures have been chosen, it is time to come up with a game plan. Placement is everything. If you are afraid of wall damage, take the time to lay out all your pictures on the floor first and photograph them. You could take things a step further and cut out paper the exact sizes of your art and tape those to the wall first. If you just want to start hammering, hang the largest piece of art first and work out from there.

Securing Your Art

If you are using heavy pieces, be sure to use proper picture hangers. Double-sided Command tape is always handy to have. If your gallery shares a wall with a door that is often open and closed, your pictures will shift. Even the slightest movement can make an entire gallery wall appear messy. Use a level to make sure pictures are straight and then anchor the corners with tape.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

How High or Low Should You Go?

If you have small children a Picasso close to the floor is not a great idea, but perhaps a collection of vintage Fisher-Price busy boards is. If you want to go floor to ceiling be sure you have a range of sizes within your art. You will need to fill awkward spaces.

Fixing Boo-Boos

After your wall is hung there might be a few scuffs and visible nail holes. In college, to get your deposit back, white toothpaste was all it took, but in your forever-home a small amount of filler, a square of sand paper and touch-up paint should do the trick.

Admire and Tweak as Necessary

Remember art, pictures and decorations are not permanently attached to your walls.  When you find something you like better make a substitution. During the holidays add something festive (or change the whole thing). Or make small changes, like paint just one frame yellow. It is your wall and your gallery.  

Photo By: Tim Barber LTD; Karyn Millet

White Sofa in Front of Wall With Built-In Bookcase and Framed Artwork

Blue Living Room With Built-In Bookcase and Framed Art

To integrate book storage into the family room, Esther had a 4' by 7' nook added to the wall behind the sofa. For richness, she opted to have the built-in stained in a medium brown tone rather than painting it white to match the trim.

4. A Bookshelf

Keep your next great read nearby. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn installed recessed shelves for this book-lover, but if you're not up for a big project, a few sets of floating shelves will do the trick.

Family Room With Brown Sofa, Upholstered Ottoman and Coral Drapes

Eclectic Living Room With Coral Curtains

This space is defined by a blend of bright colors, rich textures and bold patterns. Vibrant coral-colored draperies and valences surround this colorful room. A lime green shag area rug sits beneath a chocolate brown sections and neutral upholstered ottoman. Large picture windows provide plenty of natural light to keep the space feeling open and spacious.

5. Curtains

Drapes aren't just for windows. Hang them floor-to-ceiling for a dramatic look that you can swap out as your style changes.

Neutral Living Room With Gray Sofa

Cozy Living Room With Gray Sofa, Large Picture Window

A large picture window and comfy, gray sofa are framed by elegant drapes in this living room made over by the Rafterhouse team on HGTV.

From: Rafterhouse

6. Windows

Ok, this is kind of cheating. But don't be afraid to use the gorgeous view outside your window to your advantage. A little rearranging can make a huge difference.

Neutral Living Room With Brown Tiled Wall

Contemporary Hoboken Living Room

The warm color palette mixed with modern furniture gives this urban living room a rustic but welcoming feel.

7. An Accent Wall

The space behind the couch makes a great candidate for an accent wall. From a simple coat of paint to these sleek tiles, the design options are seemingly endless and there's a look to fit every style and budget.

Tony Hawk's Ski Cabin


*After 6 - of Tony Hawk's Mammoth Lakes, California, ski cabin.

Photo by: William Norton

William Norton

8. Your Collection

Take your collection out of those dusty boxes and and put it directly on the wall. For smaller items, it's floating shelves to the rescue once again.

Upcycled Wall Art + Storage

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Car Talk

A collection of old license plates were laid together then cut into a heart shape. A happy message was added then the piece was centered inside a flea market frame.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Bowling School

The blackboards were rescued from an old school before it was torn down. The butcher block-style table was made from old floorboards salvaged from a bowling alley. Design by JAS Design-Build

©JAS Design-Build

Tony Hawk's Ski Cabin

Designers Cortney and Bob Novogratz remodeled legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk's mountain retreat. They lined a focal wall with old skis to add a pop of color and staggered the skis' placement to mimic the mountains outside the window.

Photo By: William Norton

Wood Boxes Turned Wall Mirrors

A pair of old boxes found at a salvage store were turned into a pair of bathroom mirrors. This easy project required no power tools and took just a couple hours to make. Design by Joanne Palmisano

Photo By: Administrator ©Susan Teare

A Pair of Pastels

When creating an art display, look for different ways that pieces fit together. This whimsical pair blends well because they are from the same timeline, they're a similar shape and both have a soft hue.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Diner Jukebox

The shell of a tabletop jukebox has come back to life as a wall shelf.

Photo By: Sarah Christine Wilson, Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Colorful Wainscoting

Salvage lumber and molding are used to make wainscoting in this creative workspace.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Cocktails on File

A garage-door style file cabinet is converted into a well-stocked bar.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Handy Cabinet

A metal medical kit is transformed into an entryway cabinet for keys and small items. A wire frame from an old chair cushion is placed above to hold photos and memos.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Floor Boards Turned Shelves

With just a little prep, paint and some new shelf brackets, old floorboards became stylish storage. Design by Joanne Palmisano

Photo By: Susan Teare ©Joanne Palmisano

Old Lockers

This rusty old relic serves as a conversation piece, storage and display space. Not only does it look cool, it hides a lot of little things behind the doors, or leave a door or two open to display favorite items.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

North Woods Charm

The bow of a canoe makes a perfect bookshelf for a rustic cabin by the lake.

Photo By: Sarah Christine Wilson, Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Game Room

A couple of Chinese checkerboards and an old pachinko game add a pretty pop of nostalgic color.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Worn Elegance

A collection of flea market oil paintings are paired with some gold-finish pieces to complement the shabby-chic whitewashed walls.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Living Room with Antique Clock

Antique Clock in Living Room

As seen on Fixer Upper, this antique clock helps to tie together the antique, rustic look that Joanna was going for.

From: Fixer Upper

9. A Clock

Beauty and function combine to create one stunning focal point.

Multicolor Eclectic Living Room

Eclectic Living Room With Mustard Yellow Sofa, Patterned Wall Tapestry and Mixed Decorative Throw Pillows

A gorgeous wall tapestry featuring fuchsia and burgundy flowers sets a colorful backdrop for the mix of patterns and rich hues in this eclectic living room. A mustard yellow sofa is decorated with a collection of throw pillows. A pair of chairs with deep red cushions surround a clear coffee table over the faded rug.

Photo by: Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

10. A Rug

Floors shouldn't have all the fun. Click here to learn how to turn any rug into a permanent piece of art.

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Living Room From Blog Cabin 2012

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