Make a House a Home: How to Buy for your Personal Space
Art is personal, and nowhere is that statement truer than when you’re decorating your home. And selecting work isn’t just about whether you like the flowers or faces in a particular painting. Artworks are, ultimately, objects in space that work in concert with the objects, surfaces, and barriers around them. Here’s some tips for hitting the picture nail on the head.
First, where will the work go?
You can either shop for work by looking to fill a particular space, or by being open to what art speaks to you and then figuring out where it will go. While the latter sounds more romantic—and a personal connection is one of the most important reasons to invest in art—you might find it less overwhelming to keep your space in mind as you shop.
Consider both the height and width of the available wall space.
Is it in a corner, bookended by windows, above a bed frame, or adjacent to other artwork? It’s important to give other architectural features or furnishings room to breathe: if the available space is 6 feet wide, you may want a foot or more left free on either side of a frame. If you don’t feel like you have an intuitive eye for scale, use blue painter’s tape to mark out a rectangle on a wall and see how its boundaries engage with the surrounding space.
Generally speaking, you can never have too much natural light at home.
But the sun can cause the same damage to art that it does to skin. UV rays fade colors, and even the daily heat from a sunny window can cause work (especially paints and glues) to crack. While it’s certainly ok to further enhance the mood of a sunny room with art, prioritize walls that don’t receive direct sunlight—somewhat counterintuitively, that can actually be the walls that hold the windows. Be sure you know the full spectrum of light on a given wall throughout the day so you can help your artwork live its longest, most vibrant life.
Speaking of vibrancy, don’t forget to account for the color palette of your space.
Works of art are always in conversation with their fellow paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures. But wall color, furniture fabrics and finishes, accent decor, and even the floor will also have some say in how your artwork presents itself. And be sure to factor in the tone of the mat, as well as the color and texture of a frame in addition to the hues of the artwork.
Last but not least, let your feelings come into play.
Though we’re not advocating for impulse buys (but if that’s your style, no judgement!), one of art’s greatest gifts is the way it impacts our mindset. Think about how you currently, or hope to, feel in a certain room. Do you wish to cultivate calm in the bedroom, conversation in the dining room, and focus in a study or den? Choose works that align you with the way you like to use your space.