If you’re googling about picking artwork for your home, then you probably fall into one of two categories. Either your walls are way too bare, or they’re covered with outdated and generic artwork that just doesn’t represent you anymore! So, how do you go about picking art that matches you and matches your furnishings?
We’ve collected a few questions to get you started. You could start by taking Artichoke’s quick quiz, to start thinking about which styles make sense for you and your home. Just like people, no two rooms are the same. So make some notes and soon enough, you’ll discover your unique personal style emerging!
Here’s our tried-and-true method for picking the right artwork for your space. If you can, go and actually sit in each room as you work through these questions.
What mood do you want the room to evoke? What activities do you often do there? And is there some kind of view?
Use color theory to think about what makes sense for that specific room. Livings rooms are better for vibrant, slightly more risky pieces. Bedrooms are good for more abstract art. Leaving art unframed can work well in the bedroom because it keeps the focus on the art, and makes the room feel less formal. Bathrooms are generally good for simple, geometric styles. But don’t be afraid to like what you like! It’s your space, after all. If you do your best work in the kitchen, the art should reflect that mood.
Related, what colors, textures and eras already exist in your room?
Look around at the floor, the walls, and your furniture. Are you farmhouse chic, with lots of natural wood, greens and yellows? Perhaps midcentury modern with gray couch and blue velvet throw pillows? Do you live in a 1930s era apartment building or a new construction condo? You want to choose art that doesn’t totally clash with the architectural features of the building or with the furniture you already have. On the other hand, don’t be narrow-minded about art that contrasts, rather than complements, your existing design scheme. Sometimes art that’s too matchy-matchy can get lost in the room.
What size and number of artworks do you have room for? A single large statement piece, or perhaps a triptych of three related works?
There are a lot of templates on the Internet that help you see potential arrangements of artwork for your wall. You can group several smaller paintings together, for instance, or align the top edges of a group of works for a visually interesting arrangement of slightly differently-sized art. Leave room in your plan for inspiration. Maybe you decided on a single large statement piece for your bedroom, but you stumble upon three perfect prints at the farmer’s market. Interior design is an art and a science, after all.
Generally speaking, what visual style attracts you?
Maybe you find yourself drawn to geometric, landscape, or figurative work. Go to a local art gallery or museum, and spend time walking through the exhibits. Notice what art makes you light up, or which art relaxes you. Remember that your taste is unique. Whatever works for you, works for you! And don’t be afraid to mix and match styles! Your art collection can help tell your specific story throughout your home in a really beautiful way.
What values do you hold? What are you growing towards?
Art is a wonderful way to inspire yourself toward a goal or value. Maybe you dream about vacationing in Greece, or a trip to visit the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. If you imagine a future full of trees, people, and creativity, these values can inspire the kinds of art you see. Take a moment and jot down a few ideas that resonate with you. It could be as simple as, “Fresh air makes me happy” or “Dinner is the best time of the day” or “Tangerine colors make me feel so positive and uplifted.” Use these as your inspiration to look for artwork, and sift everything through your value system.
You could always try DIY-ing some artwork, like Mr. Kate and other YouTube personalities recommend.
Alternately, you may wish to consider working with local artists! Because no one ever asks, Where did you get that skyline print?
Working with a local artist can be hugely rewarding, and surprisingly affordable. You get unique art, plus you get to know the story behind the artist and their work. You can even commission an artist to create a bespoke work. A tip, though — you may have a very particular vision in mind, but try not to ask an artist to work too far outside their regular style. This truly makes it so much more meaningful to look up and see the work on your wall. You can look on Etsy or Instagram to connect with independent artists and get a sense of their style before investing. Plus, you’re supporting a real human being.
Did you know that having art on your walls actually makes you smarter? A recent study by the University of Houston set out to measure the effect of art on the brain. They found that “when viewing art, there is a major increase in a brain’s delta wave connectivity, which is linked to a person’s decision making and sustained attention. There is an even higher increase in the brain’s gamma wave activity, which is linked to information processing and cognition.”
So, being in the presence of original artwork you find meaningful can actually boost your brain’s activity up to 10%!
A final tip for your artwork journey: Remember that framing and installation make a big difference in how your art looks when mounted on the wall. Go to a professional to get your pieces ready for display.
We hope this guide has been helpful! We’re suckers for before-and-after photos, so please tag us in your drab-to-fab photos on Instagram @furnishr.