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Designer tips for choosing art for your home

How to choose original artwork that elevates your home’s decor.

Woman in blue dress original painting interior design idea
The Messenger by Linda Wegmann

As a full-service interior design firm, the majority of our clients call on us to outfit their spaces literally from floor to ceiling. We’re usually starting completely from scratch, so sourcing artwork is often part of our job - and we absolutely love it! While some designers may approach selecting art for their clients’ homes as an afterthought like adding plants and candles once everything else is in place, we consider the artwork to be foundational pieces of the designs we create.

Art (and in particular, original art) has the power to utterly transform the entire look and feel of a room. It has a huge impact on the design as a whole, so selecting the right pieces is crucial to a project’s outcome. But even more important to us is that art is intensely personal. We take the responsibility of selecting art that our clients will truly enjoy for years to come very seriously.

While the process of sourcing artwork is fairly intuitive for us (we usually know the right piece when we see it), there are some things we believe are important to consider when choosing art for your home.

Do you love it?

First and foremost, you have to love any piece of art you’re thinking of putting in your home. Just think about how many times each day you’re going to see that painting or photograph. Now think about how it will impact your mood if you don’t like it. Even just feeling neutral about the art in your home means you’re missing an opportunity to feel a little spark of joy multiple times a day if you truly loved your art!

Finding just the right painting or photograph for you and your space can take time, but we always encourage our clients to be patient and not give into the temptation to pick something that’s just so-so in order to get something on their wall.

Large scale abstract painting for interior design idea
Abstract Minimalist Oil on Canvas via Innovign Art

What size is best for your space?

That said, as interior designers, we do also want to be sure the art we hang in our clients’ homes is the right size, style, and color palette for the design. Even the most beautiful artwork will be hard for you to enjoy thoroughly if it looks ‘off’ in your space instead of elevating the overall design.

First, you’ll want to take careful measurements of the space and of the wall you intend to hang the art on. Most people tend to buy art that’s too small. You don’t want it to end up looking like a tiny postage stamp once it’s hung.

It’s also important to consider other factors like furniture placement (How much wall space is left once you account for the height of the new sofa or chair you’re ordering? Will people tend to bump into the frame that sticks out into the walkway behind the dining room chairs?) and lighting (does a light source adequately reach the area where you want to hang the art or will you need to add a lamp or an art light?).

What styles and colors should you look for?

When it comes to art, pretty much anything goes in terms of style and color palette. You can stick with something that complements your space, meaning that if your decor is more traditional, you would choose traditional, classic artwork and if the room’s palette is more muted, the art you pick would be muted, as well.

Figurative sculpture in gold leaf interior design idea
Gold Leaf Torso by Darcy Sears via Ruby Living Design

While there’s really no right or wrong approach, we lean more towards artwork that provides a distinct contrast with the rest of the space. When done right, this creates a visual tension that works magic for making a space feel balanced but also interesting.

For example, we love choosing a more traditional piece of art to soften a space that features sleek, contemporary furnishings. If a room is largely neutral, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll want to bring in a shot of color in the art we select. Conversely, if we’ve used color rather liberally in a space, we may opt for more toned-down art, such as black and white photography or heavily textured pieces in pale, subtle colors.

Yet another way to create visual tension with art is to frame it in a contrasting frame. We leap at the chance to put an ultra modern abstract painting in an ornate, traditional frame. Stunning!

Does it have deeper meaning to you?

Abstract modern art in vintage frame interior design idea
Artwork by Joelle Somero

Aesthetics aside, we want our clients to own and display artwork that means something to them, whether it’s their children’s or grandchildren’s masterpieces (impeccably framed, of course!), pieces found on their travels, or something we commission just for them. There’s simply nothing like the experience of owning artwork that

has a deeper meaning or connection to our interests or personal history and we work to provide that for our clients whenever possible.

Because we get to know all our clients upfront, when we source artwork for their space, we have a strong sense of what’s going to appeal to them. If you already own something that just needs to be framed, we recommend investing in a high-quality frame from a professional framing service. A good frame can elevate anything and the right style and color frame will connect it to the overall look and feel of your space.

How does it make you feel?

At the end of the day, the whole point of art is to cause us to have an emotional experience. To bring peace to our racing hearts and minds. To energize us with the excitement of life. Even to transport us - if only for a moment - by sparking a happy memory or drawing us into an idyllic scene of another place, another time.

What a wonderful experience to have art in your home that provides you with little moments of joy, peace, and happiness as you go about your day!

If you’d like help designing cohesive spaces that feature amazing artwork you’ll love living with and you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, reach out to us!


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