Architecture is essentially art you live in. Whether you think about it day-to-day or not, everything has a design, a form, and a function. I’ve noticed a lot of people leave their walls blank even when owning tons of incredible art to put up. Why? They say they’re not interior designers or have a “trained design sense.” This is a valid argument when talking about professional or commercial spaces, but not your own house. Start making your wall art pull its weight with thoughtful purchases and planning to ensure your art shines best where it’s meant to be: on your walls.
What Size Should Wall Art Be?
When you’re starting with a bare wall, it’s easy to get tripped up on the small details. Most people know the size of the wall art can affect the size of the room and get decision paralysis. Should you have many small prints or one big mosaic? The answer depends the amount of bare wall you’re working with. Smaller pieces are more affordable, but you’ll need more to make a big, blank area feel full. It can be cheaper to invest in one bigger, pricier piece that fills the area on its own. That said, small art fits in more places and at angles big art can’t. So if you’re hoping to add a decorative wall clock, decide on size based on where it goes. For a living room it’s more practical to go big and ornate; for a bathroom you want one that’s small and out of the splash zone.
Choosing Your Materials
It’s important to think about material weight when picking a new piece of art. If you’re renting, check to make sure you’re allowed to put holes in the walls at all before you buy to avoid fines on move-out. If the building manager gives you a weight limit? Stick to it (it’s there to keep your wall from collapsing!). Want something more sophisticated than a plain poster? Be mindful of how much weight a frame will add; a wood or metal frame with a glass front might look great, but will weigh significantly more than lightweight plastic or aluminum with an acrylic front. If you’re unsure how much weight your hanging hardware can hold, always err on the lighter side. Be sure to use a stud finder and a level to ensure you only need to make a hole once, and that you put it somewhere that will hold.
Not a big art aficionado? You don’t have to turn your home into a gallery to liven up your walls. Instead, consider hanging items on your wall that are both functional and beautiful. Rather than a more conventional print or painting, hanging a decorative clock or barometer will let you enhance your walls in a more practical way. Hanging family photos, decorative mirrors, or even attractive shelves stocked with mementos are all artistic enhancements that don’t require a love of fine art (or the budget for a lot of original paintings!). Not everything you put on your walls has to have a use, but neither does it have to look like what you would conventionally consider “art” – the point is to make walls you love to look at!
Unifying the Room
People think it takes skill to choose art that will look good. But starting with a single piece of art is the easiest way to fake your way to a professional looking interior. Don’t know how to pick a color palette? Let an artist do it for you. Dotting your decor with the colors used in a painting will give your room a sense of harmony and cohesion. Of course, sometimes you’ll fall in love with a painting, buy it, bring it home, and find it only looks so-so. But don’t let that discourage you. Try your new art out in different spots, and consider what elements of your room you can change to enhance it. And remember: it’s more important to love the home you’re in than have it look like a catalog. Always put your wall art somewhere it will make you happy each time you see it.
Determined to make a not-quite-right painting work in the room you originally envisioned? Don’t despair. Sometimes you can frame the piece to fit the room – literally! It’s a huge trend among designers right now to use lavish frames as the wall art itself instead of putting anything in them. While you might not want to leave the frame blank, choosing a new one for your art might be the key to making the look work. Whether it’s a different color, style, or thickness, swapping out the frame can alter the look of a piece of art without detracting from it, and help make it a better fit for your existing decor.
How Much Should You Pay?
What’s considered “a fair price” for a piece of art depends on several factors – from size and materials to how much you appreciate the artist. The more one-of-a-kind the art is, the pricier it’ll be; ditto for durability: frames, glass, sturdy mounting hardware, archival quality paper, and so on will all raise the price tag. But while it’s relatively easy to fill your house with $20 unframed posters, it’s those quality touches that will elevate your decor. And keep in mind: unless your house is caught in a natural disaster, your wall art is forever. So while it might be tempting to fill a big space with a cheap poster or three, buying art that will last really is an important investment. Of course, you should never spend more than you can afford. But splurging on a piece you really love – even a small one – will beautify your home for the long-haul.
More than almost any other type of decor, the type of art you choose to put on your walls is a personal decision. It reflects your sense of style, your personality, and adds that little extra something that can make a well-designed room really feel like home.