I am getting ready to teach a class next week and wanted to freshen up my photos. In my class I hope to cover the most common areas where people go wrong but don't know they are going wrong. One of these areas is what I refer to as relationships. People hanging wall decor that is the wrong size, or the wrong height is simple to fix, and yet found everywhere.
For example- take the photo above. It is sparsely decorated, and yet looks perfect. Why? The wall decor has a relationship to the furniture that is against the wall. The wall in this dining room has two relationships going on. The first is the relationship of the mirror to the console table. The second relationship is the relationship between the wall decor and the wall itself. Adding two pictures and a sconce to either side of the console made the scale of the wall decor consistent with the size of the wall.
When there is no furniture at all against the wall- your wall decor then solely has a relationship with the wall. My caution here: don't go too small.
When you have furniture against the wall you do not have to have your wall decor have a relationship with the wall. You can just use the relationship with the furniture- like the bedroom at the top of the post. However- accentuating the relationship of the wall accentuates the architecture, and draws the eye to the entire wall. I would consider it a tool that can be used, rather than a rule to follow.
For more on relationships- check out this post.