11 Clever Ways to Fill the Empty Space Above Your Bed

We’re going beyond the standard wall art.
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neutral bedroom with art over bed
Photography by Kort Havens; Styling by Scott Horne

Is it just us or does it seem nearly impossible to find the perfect decorative piece to go in the empty spot above a bed? More often than not, we will either leave the wall blank or decked with a print we’ve had for longer than we would care to remember or admit. That all changes here. As the 11 style-focused spaces ahead prove, even the most mundane or expected elements can instantly transform your bedroom.

Keep the Frames, Ditch the Art

blue bedroom
Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Designing a gallery wall can be a pretty intimidating process. One way to go about it? Forgo the art and opt for a gridded display of frames instead. We’re taking major pointers from this Paris apartment, which proves that something as simple as pairing an eclectic array of antique frames with an alluring shade of wall paint can really go a long way.

Pin Up a Favorite Textile

white bed
Photography by Claire Cottrell

As far as DIYs go, this trick—which involves tacking up a piece of fabric with your choice of nails or pushpins—is one that requires almost no skill but looks thoughtfully curated. Not sure what type of fabric to casually mount on your wall? Start by shopping your linen closet for scraps or browse Etsy for antique and vintage offcuts. 

Fill Up a Shelf

rustic wood cabin bedroom
Photography by Kate Jordan; Art Direction by Agnethe Glatved; Styling by Eliza Gran

No room for a nightstand, no problem. Screw a simple pinewood shelf into the wall à la designer Eliza Gran’s Ghent, New York, home and suddenly you’ve got a nearby surface that can hold a lot of weight, including fresh florals and a pitcher. 

Hang Smaller Works Off to the Side

mellow yellow bedroom
Photography by Marielle Lind Hansen

In a small bedroom like the one in this London pied-à-terre, a large work of art over the headboard can feel overwhelming, so here’s a thought: You don’t have to match the wall’s scale or even hang something in the center of the space. These portraits turn out to be more attention grabbing because they’re off-center.

gallery wall around headboard
Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

The landscape oil paintings scattered around the bed frame in designer Melissa Colgan’s Washington, D.C., home is her way of maximizing her collection (and her budget). “You get the look of a giant landscape but for less,” she says. By grouping like works together, the area doesn’t feel overstyled, even with so much going on.

Lean Objects on a Ledge

moody blue bedroom
Photography by Jason Frank Rothenberg; Styling by Rosy Fridman

A 6- to 12-inch bump-out can serve as both a headboard as well as a rotating art display. Rather than put a permanent nail hole in your wall, you can lean works, and you also have plenty of room to prop up plants and taper candles, too.

Plug in a Giant Wall Light…

lofted bedroom with blue bedding
Photography by Genevieve Garruppo; Styling by Naomi deMañana

The low 6-foot ceilings and short windows in Christine Espinal’s bedroom sound like a recipe for a cave, but the spatial designer overcompensated with a large Ariette 1 wall light sculpture by Tobia Scarpa, so there’s no way it could ever feel dungeon-y. 

…Or a Neon Sign

pink neon sign
Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Graphic designer Timothy Goodman also traded in the idea of a traditional nightstand lamp for an over-the-bed neon light. Seeing the cords hanging down from the fixture only adds to his studio apartment’s industrial vibes (it’s located in a former hat factory that was built in 1891).  

Explore the 3D

colorful red bed spread
Photography by Skye Parrott

If a swatch of fabric skews too casual for you but you want to add some texture to your wall, consider fiber art. (Psst: The Citizenry has a handful of zen options crafted from cotton thread.) A small colorful rug has a similar effect. 

Float It Over Window Treatments

floating mirror over bed
Photography by Matthew Williams

To solve for the two skinny windows that flank either side of her bed, Sarah Sherman Samuel decided to wrap the entire corner of her space with fabric using a mounted track. And, yes, she was still able to display art. The sculptural LRNCE mirror that looks like it’s attached directly to the fabric is actually suspended from ceiling-mounted hooks. 

Forage for Dried Flora

Victoria Adesanmi lives in Hollywood, but by the looks of her limewash walls (painted in Dune Shack by Portola Paints) and the dried palm frond hanging over her headboard, you’d think she was in Tulum.

Anna Kocharian Avatar

Anna Kocharian

Writer/Editor

Anna has a penchant for travel, fresh flowers, and books. You can usually find her on some sort of culinary adventure, seeking the best burgers or waffles in the city.

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