How to choose the perfect artwork for your interior décor
"A good piece of art will look always look good, but it can look excellent - even brilliant — when truly incorporated into the rooms architecture and décor."
By Daniel Lee-Jacobs
When it comes to choosing art for interiors, sadly artwork is often relegated to an afterthought. When carefully considered however, art has the ability to transform a space, to bring exciting colour and texture and to infuse it with personality. Alongside shrewdly chosen furniture, lighting and soft furnishings, artwork can be the ‘cherry on top’ in great interior design.
Nonetheless, finding the perfect piece of art for an interior design project isn’t a simple matter. For the unfamiliar it can be challenging process to even determine where to find quality original art.
Because the art market is fragmented into lots of small galleries, dealers, brokers, online stores and self-represented artists, it can be an arduous and time-consuming process to even see what’s available and where; and so it really helps to know what you’re looking for!
To determine what kind of artwork would suit your space, I like to move first from thinking about the practical into the more emotional! Once you’ve determined the space that needs to be filled, here’s my three vital steps to help you find the perfect artwork.
Image Credit: Paul Massey
1) Atmosphere and Tone
First and foremost, it’s important to consider what atmosphere you’d like to achieve in the room you’re buying for.
Whilst in the bedroom we might look to create a calming and restive environment, the living room might be a space for energy and vivacity.
An artist’s work definitely can mirror those sentiments. The below work from Henrietta Stuart and Victoria Horkan highlight these differences. Whilst the same base colour tone is used across both, the subject matter and the way in which the brushstrokes are rendered creates a sense of calmness in one and a powerful dynamismin in the other.
Henrietta Stuart - Scottish Autumn Shores
Victoria Horkan - The Butterfly Collector
With this in mind you should always be considering your clients personality. Do they have a love for nature, an obsession with music or a connection with a certain location. Can these themes play out in the artwork you choose?
Everyone has their own personal taste, but if your client likes challenging the status quo or has eclectic tastes, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries with artwork which is going to start a conversation!
Artist: The Connor Brothers in Bedroom
2) Material, Textures and Medium
Depending on the design aesthetic you choose, be it ‘industrial chic’, ‘eclectic maximalist’ or ‘mid-century modern’, there will be certain characteristic materials, textures and philosophies associated.
Modern Scandinavian design for example features clean lines, neutral colours, and natural materials. These spaces often verge on the minimalist and hence aren’t layered with lots of texture.
In a space such as this, equally clean, glossy and ‘flat’, less-textured artwork will feel most at home. Photography and prints lend themselves well to these spaces as a result, as do simplistic sculptures in natural materials.
Artist David Magee in Scandinavian Interior
In contrast, in a country home where there is a focus on comfort, warmth and lots of layered texture, you need artwork which is equally textured!
Oil paintings thick with layered pigment or walls of prints are able to hold up against a foreground of eclectic furnishings, meaning they remain an integral part of the design, rather than getting lost in the background.
Image Credit - Ideal Home - Photographer - Polly Eltes
Considerations in terms of material and texture should obviously extend into the materials chosen for sculpture, and also for framing any wall art.
Wood is quite versatile given it can be left natural or painted to match a colour scheme, but be careful using metal finishes (especially silver) as they can more easily clash in the wrong environment.
3) Shape and colour
Creating a consistent design aesthetic and flow between furnishings and artwork also involves considering both shape and colour.
Just as you would look for complimentary shapes, lines and angles throughout your furnishings, the same applies to artwork.
If your furniture features soft curves and fluid lines, choose artwork that incorporates sweeping strokes or flowing movement also. Furniture with more hard, angled or industrial edges will instead match artwork with more defined lines and crisper detail.
It’s all about making sure that nothing jars and everything is in sync with each other! Trust me when I say that a good piece of art looks fine in a room, but it will look excellent — or even brilliant — when incorporated into the rooms architecture as well as the décor.
Depending on your design, you can either look to use artwork to create a complimentary splash of colour, or to make it THE splash of colour in a more paired back room.
In rooms where there is already a good measure of colour, it proves wise to choose artwork with complimentary colours – perhaps picking out two or three accents from the furnishings and looking for this in the artwork you buy.
Similarly if you’re hanging a painting on a coloured wall, look for colours which won’t clash on the colour spectrum.
Landscape Painting by Phil Tyler. Photography by Haymarket Press
In rooms which are quite neutral in colour, incorporating whites, creams, greys or light woods, artwork can be your opportunity to bring some real drama.
I find that artwork which has a strong, single or two-tone nature works best. It adds a strong punch of colour which is high impact, but at the same time contained. Multicoloured artwork can also look great, but sometimes if they’re too busy it can be a little domineering!
Image Credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors
The Finishing Touches
Once you’ve found the perfect piece, ensure you take the time to apply the finishing touches.
The choice of a frame can have a huge impact on how a piece of art fits into its’ environment – and sometimes the frame itself provides an added decorative effect.
Cheap frames look exactly that, so talk to the gallery supplying the work for ideas on framing – it will be more cost effective to go through the gallery itself as they will have pre-arranged relationships with framers.
Image Credit - Cameron Kimber Design
Equally sculptures may need a plinth to feel complete. Whilst many sculptures come complete with plinths it’s important to ask otherwise you risk the piece lacking the height and presentation it deserves!
Lighting is a final consideration. When not in natural light, illuminating artworks properly is vital – a subtle glow brings out the colours of a picture, rather than harsh white light.
As with the image above, if you’re using picture lights, think about using a finish to match other features in the room such as door handles or other light fixtures for great design continuity.
Thanks for reading along and don't forget...