Choosing Art for Your Home: A Personal Journey
Art, like music, has universal appeal. While tastes vary from one end of the spectrum to another, there is literally something for everyone: a lithograph print, a watercolor depicting calm seas, an oil with gorgeous texture, a photograph, an album color, a stick figure created by one’s child. Art strikes a cord within us, and it can help bring beauty and personality to our homes.
Choosing the right pieces ensures you create a welcoming, inspiring atmosphere that reflects your tastes. And it can be an intimidating job! Our art and design experts have tips to help you source and select the most fitting pieces.
Often, art for the home is an afterthought. It is tossed up on the walls or placed on shelves after the “important” elements, like furniture, wall colors, and drapery. While it may not become your first priority, consider putting more forethought into your art as you design your décor.
One technique involves choosing your wall art, and then selecting your paint colors. You do this by carefully extracting two or three hues from the artwork that speak to you. One will be the dominant color (e.g. the color you paint the walls), while the others will be wonderful accents to draw the entire décor together cohesively.
You can use technology to help you: apps, such as ColorSnap, bumblejax, Color Capture, ProjectPaint, ColorSmart, and myPantone allow you to snap a picture of the color you want and then turn them into paint swatches. This allows you to easily color-match virtually anything accurately.
At the same time, think about the connotations of those colors. For example, bold colors can draw visitors in, while light, soothing tones are ideal for rooms in which you want to relax (e.g. bedrooms, meditation rooms). This can help guide the selection of art for specific rooms, as well as the other elements of your décor.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
- Find your focal point. Many rooms have a “natural” focal point, such as the space above a mantle. It can be beneficial to highlight these spaces with carefully chosen artwork.
- Play up your lines. If, for instance, you have a long, narrow vertical spot, highlight that with a piece that fills the space with similar lines. It can help the room appear larger and those gorgeous ceilings even higher. The same applies to large horizontal spaces. Maximize their impact.
- Repeat lines. This technique can work two ways: first, say you have a gorgeous set of vases with curvaceous figures. Find a piece of art that echoes the curves. Likewise, if you have a painting that features bold, straight lines, you could opt to add a cut-edge glass coffee table to complement the style.
- Don’t limit yourself based on architecture. If you have an old Victorian home, for example, does that mean your living room, den, study, or bedrooms need to look like a Royal Academy of Arts exhibit? No. Do not place these artificial boundaries on your home. Contemporary art in traditional style homes can be exciting and unexpected.
- Do a great frame job. The right frame ties the art to the décor – and it can also help when you are displaying contemporary art, for example, in a traditional home, as we mentioned above.
- View at eye level. Highlight pieces by hanging or displaying them at eye-level (while “eye-level is different for everyone, around 60 inches will do).
- Light it up. Not every piece benefits from a spotlight. Instead, consider whether lighting should be indirect, so it plays on shadows, or if multiple sources of softer light would be more appropriate.
Now, let’s talk about sourcing your artwork. You needn’t have a large budget to collect great art for your home. Some places to start:
- Local galleries. Local galleries often feature work for sale, and the prices can be quite advantageous. Look for prints, paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art that speak to you and that will fit in your home.
- Craft markets. Many artists, artisans, and craftspeople display and sell their works at local craft markets. Browse around; you will be amazed at the quality and variety available at these weekend pop-up markets.
- Coffee shops and restaurants. Often, your neighborhood cafe offers more than a great cup of cappuccino. You can often find local artists’ work on the walls. If none of the pieces will fit, take a look at the artists’ names and look them up online. Chances are they have other pieces that may suit your home more perfectly.
- Home décor stores. Art is that which speaks to you. It needn’t cost a fortune. Home stores can offer great work that is per-framed and reasonably prices. If it speaks to you, that is all that matters.
- Thrift stores. Who knows what you might find? Go on a treasure hunt.
- Your closet. Chances are that you have been gifted with or have created works of art yourself. Why not take them out of the closet and display them? An old black and white family photo from three generations ago, for instance, can make a fascinating focal point to your living room. A perfectly imperfect bowl you spun can become a coffee table conversation starter. See what you have – or better yet, get out your canvas and see what you can create. When you invite art into your home, you bring texture, color, visual interest, imagination, and possibility.