1. Choosing a Style and Subject
This is the big question, and the most exciting aspect of buying original art. Simply, I believe in buying what you love. Art purchased for love will make you proud of where you live, encourage conversation, and keep you thinking. I also believe that as you develop both your art taste and home décor style, cohesion will emerge between the two. As a new art buyer, look at as much art as possible to better define your taste and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. If you find a piece you like but feel unsure, wait a few days to see if it’s still something you can’t live without.
2. Paying Attention to Scale
It’s important to select artwork that matches the scale of the room. I look to see if the art fits proportionally to the wall, room, and surrounding furniture and decor. The piece should have space around it to breath but not be dwarfed by a big wall or cramped in a small area, and the furniture in proximity should be roughly the same size. When buying online, I like to cut a piece of butcher paper the size of the artwork and tape it on the intended wall to visualize scale.
3. Balancing Colors
Art serves as a wonderful way to add color to your room. It does not have to match your furniture and decor, but it’s good to pay attention to whether the colors of the room complement the piece (and vice versa). Color choices are largely a factor of personal taste. I prefer simplicity in home furnishings to accentuate more colorful art. Regardless of your tastes, look to balance the room with neutral and strong focal points.
4. Finding a Hanging Height
Clients most frequently ask about determining the proper height for art and the easiest way to figure out where to put the screw in the wall. If you search the Internet for this topic, you will find almost as many opinions about optimal viewing height as about art itself. I say, it depends. It depends on the height of the walls in the room, the height of the furniture in the room, and the height of the viewer. I default to 65 inches from the floor to the center of the piece, but then I adjust according to these factors. If you have huge vaulted ceilings or tall furniture, raise the art. If you are 5’2”, lower the piece. The most important things are to not crowd the art with furniture or the ceiling, and for it to be at your viewing height. Once you determine the height, measure from the floor to the center of the art, for example 65”. Then, turn the art around and measure from the center of the art up to the hanging wire, for example, 9”. Add the two numbers together, 65+9=74, and then put your screw in the wall at 74” from the floor.
5. Incorporating Art with Existing Decor
Art, decor and furniture act as records of our lives. We collect different pieces at different moments, and our tastes evolve over time. My art choices have changed over the years, but I like working in new pieces with my existing collection. Each artwork reminds me of unique experiences and how I felt at the time. I don’t worry about matching the art in my home, instead I see it as a chronology of my personality and my ever-continuing art education. I always pay attention to scale, color, and hanging height, and everything else seems to come together.