Basic Measurements in Interior Decorating

How high should a framed mirror be hung? If I want to hang a picture frame above a sofa, where should I position the frame? What size rug do I need for my living room? As an interior decorator, your clients will have left basically a lot of the decisions to you.

However, you can provide them with a primer on basic rules of thumb for interior decorating measurements. This is one way for you to provide value-added service to your clients so that they can start thinking about any changes they want to make – and perhaps give you another call to draw in on your expertise.

Here are some basic measurements in interior decorating:

Picture frames and framed art pieces

  • The general rule of thumb is to hang the piece at eye level. This prevents viewers from having to strain the neck if the piece is hung too high or to have to bend the head if the piece is hung too low. It really depends on the average height of the people you are expecting to view the piece. On average, though, the center of the frame should be around 56” to 58” high.
  • For a group of picture frames hung as a column, the cumulative height should be taken as a whole. Thus, the overall center should still be 56” to 58” from the floor.
  • When hanging a group of frames, leave enough space in between each frame – and keep this distance consistent for all adjacent frames. Smaller pieces should be around 2” apart while bigger pieces can have a space of 3” to 5” apart from each other. This prevents the display from looking too crowded or too fragmented. You can use low tack adhesive tape to help you measure the spaces.
  • When hanging a picture frame or a group of frames above a sofa or a table, these should not be wider than the piece of furniture. The general rule should be that the overall width of the framed pieces should be two-thirds the width of the furniture under it. Also, the space from the bottom of the framed piece and the top of the furniture should be 4” to 8”.

Dining table and chairs

A rectangular table (which is one of the most common shapes) is great for large gatherings and can also easily fit a narrow dining room. A 36” x 48” table may seat four while a 36” x 78” table may seat 6 to 8. For round tables, four people will fit a table with 36” to 44” diameters. A 54” to 72” diameter table can fit six to eight people.

Curtains or Window Treatments

  • As a general rule, the curtains should be floor length (grazing the floor) or break slightly on the floor.
  • For areas where long curtains are impractical (such as the bathroom or the kitchen), the curtains should just be touching the sill.
  • The curtain panels should have an overall width twice or 2.5 times as wide as the window. This way, you still get complete coverage when the curtains are closed. However, if the curtains are designed to frame a window, and there is no need to close them, the overall length can be decreased to 1.5 times the width.
  • Extend the rod 3” to 6” farther from the frame. This gives the illusion of more width for the windows.


  • Dining room rugs can serve to define the space, especially if you have an open-plan dining area. The rug underneath should generally be 24” to 30” wider than the table’s edges. This provides enough space even when the chairs are pulled out and occupied.
  • Make large living rooms with a single seating area feel more cozy by getting a large rug where all the furniture can fit, with enough space on the sizes for one to walk around it.
  • For small to medium open-plan living areas, you can use a large rug to set the living room area apart from the rest of the areas. The furniture’s legs (front and back) can sit on the rug, or you can have no legs on the rug (if all you want is to give the room a pop of color).
  • For area rugs to be used in an enclosed living area, there should be about 18” of bare floor between the edges of the rug and the walls of the room. This provides a good proportion and demarcation line between the rug and bare floor. For smaller spaces, the distance can be decreased to 8”.
5th Dec 2016

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