So you want to make your home special with a piece of art? That's wonderful! But how do you choose the perfect piece, that fits your style and personality without overwhelming you space (or budget)? Here are seven tips to help you make a decision you'll feel good about.
Think about color. What colors do you already have in the space you want to decorate? There are two main color schemes that you can use for a room:
a ) Monochromatic. With this option, all or most of the elements of your space are variations on the same color. Here’s an example of how that might look.
As you can see, almost every color in this room is white. Of course, the floor is still brown and there is gold being featured as well, so note that a monochromatic scheme doesn’t have to totally rule out the use of neutrals. The painting plays into the monochromatic scheme with a serene color palette and some beautiful brown and gold tones to compliment the neutrals already being used in the room.
b) Multicolor. This, of course, is when you use two or more colors in your space. It’s best to limit this to two or three colors. Here’s an example:
The colors here, as you can see, are blue and white. You’ll note that the painting sticks with the palette by prominently featuring a light blue color, but includes other colors as well.
The takeaway: The art you choose should take your overall color scheme into account, but it doesn’t have to be limited to only those colors – which is good because an all-white painting is just a wall.
2. Consider size. You probably already have a wall in mind that you’re shopping for. A good first step is to measure it! You may not know what standard sizes are out there, and that’s fine, but when you start shopping, you probably want to know if the piece you’re looking at is going to be way to small or way too big for your needs.
The wall space you have in might be defined by the architectural features of the room, like the space between a corner and a window, or by furniture, like the space over a couch, television, or bed. To fill the space without feeling too big, consider using something that takes up two-thirds or less of the horizontal wall space. If you go bigger, you’re choosing to make a big statement, which can be a great idea, as long as it's what you want.
These three pieces together take up about half to two-thirds of the horizontal space above the two tables. They leave plenty of breathing room around them, so the room doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelmed.
This piece takes up almost all of the horizontal space above this desk, and while you can see it looks great and it works in the space, it is a defining feature. Everything else becomes less important compared to the scale of the painting. Again, this can look fantastic if you want to keep the furnishings simple, and it works really well with this small white desk, but it might not be a good choice if the desk were a feature on its own.
The takeaway: Consider whether you want the art to be the main feature of the space or just an accessory to decide what size might be right for you.
3. Decide on composition. So now you know how much wall space to fill up, but what will you fill it with?
There are two main choices here: A gallery wall, or a single feature piece. You saw one example of each above. Here are two more.
In this example, the two pieces are each serving their own purpose, one over the table and another over the television. Each fills its space and makes its statement while serving the room at large, but without becoming one feature together.
In the example above, a statement is certainly being made, with almost all of the wall space filled, but the space is filled with many small items rather than one or two large ones. This can be a great choice if you want to do something bold, but you’re working with a limited budget, because as you might guess, bigger means more expensive. Postcards, photographs, and even interesting magazines can all work together to make something amazing.
The takeaway: Both gallery walls and single pieces can look amazing, but the bigger the piece is, the more expensive it will be. Consider smaller pieces hung in a gallery style if you want to avoid spending a lot of money.
4. Think about the frame. Frames can serve to tie all the pieces in your room together, like in the example above where all those magazines and postcards are held up with the same silver clip. Many artists also choose to use what’s called a “gallery wrap” canvas, which means the canvas wraps all the way around the underlying wood structure and the artist often paints the edges so that you can hang the work without a frame and it will still look great. All of my paintings, for example, come with finished edges and a wire on the back so they can hang without a frame. But lots of people like the finished look of everything in the room having the same frame around it.
The takeaway: Ultimately, it’s up to you, your budget, and what you like. But if you know you want to hang your piece frameless, make sure the one you’re getting has a finished edge and a wire on the back!
5. Materials, structure, and upkeep. Art can be made with any number of materials, and they come with different levels of required upkeep. Works on paper, for example, should be kept under glass in a frame and out of direct sunlight, or they can fade over time. Pieces on wood or Masonite are naturally going to be heavier than pieces on canvas, and a large one should be screwed into a stud just like a mounted TV. All art should be dusted occasionally if you want to be able to see it. (Ask the guys at the Sistine Chapel about this one.)
The takeaway: Make sure you talk to the artist and find out what materials she used and what the required upkeep is before you take your piece home.
6. Address your concerns. Are ethical materials important to you? Do you prefer to shop local? There is undoubtedly an artist out there who shares your values, you just have to find them! Local galleries can always help you of course, and I’m personally a huge fan of Art Walks and open studios. Don’t forget social media: there are tons of us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram hoping you’ll stumble across our work. SaatchiArt.com is another great resource that lets you search art according to size and color preferences and can connect you with artists from all over the world. Finally, interior designers and art consultants are always a fantastic resource who know who’s local, in your budget, and fit for your needs. It’s literally their job to find exactly what, and who, you’re looking for.
The takeaway: It might take a little digging to find your artistic soul-sister, but she is out there! 7. Let it speak to you. I know this sounds wishy-washy and annoying, but the honest truth is that your piece will speak to you. If you see something and it just feels right, there’s probably a reason, and the reason is probably that you like it. Go with your gut and don’t second guess yourself.
The takeaway: You know what you like. Go get it and don’t feel bad about it!
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