Podcast, Ep. 26: Art 101 with Karen Fleenor

Art 101 lesson on the How to Decorate podcast from Ballard Designs

Our resident art expert Karen Fleenor stopped by the podcast to talk buying, hanging, and framing art! We talk about how to pick the perfect piece, how to size art over your furniture, framing options, cost, commissions, and gallery walls.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • We all talk about our best art moment in our homes — where we got them, how we hung them, and why we love them so much
  • Karen tells us about her background in the art world and how she started working with Ballard Designs
  • How do you know if it’s the right piece for your home and for your space
  • Why you should hang a piece of art over a piece of furniture with a contrasting style
  • We talk about our exclusive artists and why it’s perfectly fine to have art that isn’t originals
  • Taryn asks us how she can update a piece of art that belonged to her husband’s grandfather
  • We talk about how to hang art — including what height they should hang and how far apart pieces should be
  • We talk about small art — hanging it with other pieces, on a small sliver of wall, or hang it low over a piece of furniture
  • We talk about framing and why it’s so expensive (it basically comes down to materials and labor)
  • What size piece should you get if you’re hanging it over a piece of furniture

Decorating Dilemmas:

Dear How to Decorate,

I purchased the Ballard Sea Breeze Art prints I and II (each print is 38″ x 24″) to hang above my sofa in my living room, but I’m not sure if this is the right size. Can I go with the bigger size at 48″ x 30″ each? The sofa length is 82″ and height is 35.” The wall side to side measures at 158″ and floor to ceiling measures at 92 ” so there is about 57 ” from the top of the sofa to the crown molding. The wall is so big, I want to make sure I fill the space.

How big of a print or prints can I have without going too big? I read on the Ballard blog that the prints should be about 75% of the length of the sofa but how high is too high? I plan to move end tables w/ lamps to the sides. Note the red sofa shown in this picture is temporary; I plan to move a new cream colored sofa in the room (the fabric swatch is shown laying on the red sofa).




We all agree that you should definitely go for the larger size! The 75% rule is a good jumping off point, but if you can, go larger! We don’t think it’ll be too much for you to go almost totally to the ceiling — if anything it’ll bring more drama and presence to your living room. Great choice though and best of luck finishing your living room!

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss and episode. Of course, you can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    joanne dimeff

    August 31, 2017

    I love your podcast! Very entertaining way to take my dog for our morning walk — the time just flies! But, yes, I’m in the middle of the Karen Fleenor podcast and there’s a high pitched sound running in the background throughout, just as the last commenter said

  2. Reply


    July 25, 2017

    Thanks for your response, Caroline! Episodes 25 and 26 are the ones I’m having trouble with.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      July 25, 2017

      I just swapped out Episode 26. Would you mind listening and telling me if you still hear it?
      It would be a HUGE help! Want to make sure you can get through a whole episode ?

  3. Reply


    July 19, 2017

    I’m a HUGE fan of the podcast, but in the last few episodes there’s been this weird, high pitched noise in the background… is it just me? I’m listening through my iPhone and through the iPhone podcast app. It’s almost like a super squeaky wheel that won’t stop turning. I can’t make through the episodes, which really bums me out because I love you guys! Help?!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      July 20, 2017

      Oh no, Sarah!
      I’ll look into it and try to have it fixed. Which ones in particular?