7 Guidelines for Artwork

Pulling wall art together to highlight, accent and even set the style of a room used to be a job for professional interior designers.  What are some of the tricks of the trade they use for choosing wall art?

  • They don’t limit the choices to oil paintings.  They consider all types of artwork, including photography, lithographs and watercolors.  Shop with an open mind and don’t limit choices to a particular artist, medium or style.
  • They don’t match art to the furnishing, they relate it.  Art shouldn’t blend into the surroundings, but relate and connect them either by subject matter, style or even emotion.  Art needs impact to work, and you just don’t get the impact with matching furnishings.
  • Professional decorators know how to light up a room – literally!  When you find art that works within a room, show it off with accent lighting.  Even the most inexpensive landscape can look like it belongs in a museum with the perfect lighting.  If you don’t have track lighting to focus on the art, consider a picture light that mounts to the frame to provide accent lighting.
  • Decorators seem to know just what mat to choose with art.  A common mistake is to pull and highlight a bright color from the painting to choose a mat.  The mat is used to separate the art from the frame, choosing more neutral mats will put the artwork in its best context.
  • They know how to hang artwork.  A cool, casual look is to use a wall shelf for accessories and to lean a piece of artwork against the wall.  For a more formal look, use decorative hanging accessories such as picture cords and hooks, they tend to give the illusion of height and taller ceilings.
  • Interior decorators know how to group artwork for impact.  Smaller pieces can be grouped together for the same impact as a larger piece.  Use the group as a single piece of art to determine the shape and size.  Relate the art within the grouping by using subject matter, frame color or mat color to establish some form of unity.
  • Don’t take it seriously.  Decorators know how to add a touch of whimsy and humor in art, particularly in casual settings.  Art should be inspiring, motivating, attractive and part of your style and personality.  If humor is part of your style, feel free to reflect it in the artwork.

Choosing art is not an exact science, you can use the rules to help you pare down choices, but if you see the what you think is the perfect piece for a spot, rules were made to be broken!