How to choose art for your house

How to choose art for your house

How many of us can say that we are an art curator? This is something that I have struggled with  for myself. If you have the experience of owning or running a gallery then making a selection will be second nature when considering how to choose art for your home. You will have the ‘eye and feel’ for the pieces that look best for in the home or anywhere else.

For the novice it’s difficult to just find a starting point and as a novice myself I rely on the advice of others. So I’ve done some digging around to see what experience is out there. I’ve come across some interesting and persuasive thoughts about how to choose art for your house.

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The questions are actually fundamental. How do I choose art, regardless of the circumstance? Having that ‘feel’ that gives you the confidence to commit. Then there’s the question of values. When do I make the investment? If this is important to you then research along the lines of up-and-coming artists will be required. If I know very little about the subject of art selection, how can I learn more?

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Here are some tips and pointers that I’ve drawn from the thoughts of others in the game that may nudge you in the right direction. It all really begins with you.

Choose art for your apartment

Art that I love

Art for the home wall

One of the deciding factors when we choose art pieces for a particular area of living space is whether the proposed selection will fit with or match the furniture. Push away such thoughts. Your choice of furniture and accompanying furnishings can be left on a separate layer of mind-set.

The walls can be hived off as an area of independence and new freedom. If a clash happens with what you already have then let it happen. Liberate yourself from convention. Stark contrasts provide an atmosphere that will challenge whatever convention that you have in place. Just know that if you see a piece, in whatever setting, and, you like it and keep coming back to look at it again and again then this piece is probably for you. To be rebellious in your choosing is refreshing. If something feels right to you then it is right for your house. Don’t allow yourself to be contained by anything when making your choice.

Choose art online

Art size on wall

Art piece sizes generally fall into 5 categories:

  • Mini
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Oversized

Having a convention in place will help you to decide on both size selection and where your choice would be best placed in your house. Having a large wall area available doesn’t mean that you have to fill it with an oversized piece. That is unless you see a piece that really works for you. There are options.


These will be sized 10 to 18 inches width or height. It does work if you place just one mini art piece alone but in a large area it may well struggle. Generally mini art looks best as a gallery collection. Ideally if they are matched as a themed presentation.


These will measure between 18 to 24 inches width or height. These can also stand alone but work best in a group of similar sized pieces. An ideal approach would be to find a matching pair that can balance each other in a suitable place.


These will measure between 24 to 36 inches width or height. These can stand alone or make a centrepiece to be surrounded by a selection of smaller pieces that go together to make up a gallery.


These will be 36 to 46 inches width or height. These will be stand alone pieces. Be ready for this type of art to impose. This won’t be a problem. You have made your choice and you want to shout it out. When considering this size of art you need to think carefully about choice of either landscape or portrait. This will most likely depend on the placing of other room furnishings.


Art prints for the home

Here we are looking at pieces that are 46 inches width or height. This is when you go ‘all in’. This size will fill a wall with the intention that it must impose as much as possible. Unless you have high walled rooms this size will most likely be landscape. They will definitely be stand alone art pieces as they rarely work as a collection with smaller pieces.

More about art for your home

Study the artist of the piece

Getting to know the artist of the piece is an important part of the process. When you select a piece that you like and does what you want, complete that process. This is a relationship. A big part of an artist’s being is displayed on a wall right there in your living room. Don’t allow it to be anonymous. Raise the value and meaning that it has for you. When you know everything about the artist you have the full story, the history and the passion. Take a delight in relaying the story to visiting guests and impress them with your decision and knowledge.

Black and white art

We gravitate to colour because colour is there and it fits with the world around us. Colour instantly provides a variety of dimensions that feed the mind’s eye. We are safe with colour, the visual explanation is complete and yet there maybe no boundary.

Black and white artwork

With black and white it’s very different. There is a boundary with a very hard edge. Black and white images offer a single dimension that will always be stark. There is the discipline that commands that you study the subject and you are compelled to study it with such intensity that, if there is a message in the scene, you will get it.

Allow it to compete with colourful items of furniture, it can’t do any harm. You will never find room furnishings that will complement black and white images so why worry about it. The contrast of colourful furnishings and black and white art can be a very refreshing balance.

What we have with black and white is the ‘adult in the room’ calling you to order. There is no ambiguity. The outlines, the atmosphere and the message is so clear that the whole piece could be carved in stone.

Black and white images work best when away from colourful art. The effect will be diluted if there are any distractions. It’s intention is to impose and deliver without prejudice or penalty, so why not just let it.

Look for emerging artists

This is something that you should should do if you are considering buying art as an investment. You need to attend events where new artists are displaying. A good place to start are at graduation shows held at art colleges. This is when student artists show their works that emerge from their years of formative years of study.

Look for ‘the new’. The perceived wisdom is to avoid contemporary thinking and be bold. Go for clear unique thinking. Find something that is so different that it almost goes against your instinct to become involved. The emerging artists who generate works with a totally new style that almost shocks, tend to become successful. So, here we have the risk. If you have a good enough feeling that what you are observing is going to rezinate with the futures audience and form that special connection, then you must make your move.

Depending on the scale of financial commitment, it may be wise to have an audience with the artists that interest you. You need to know what their long term plans are and their level of commitment.

If you are really serious about investing in art then be aware that it can be very competitive. If you see what looks like a meaningful potential then you can be sure that others will have felt the same way. If the competition are a big buying consortium then you may find it expensive to fight your way in.

There are occasions where the entire entry of a graduation show is bought up by a serious collector. This can happen before the show even opens.

Commission your favourite artist

If you’ve seen a style that works for you and you haven’t been successful in acquiring a specific piece then placing a commission request may be an option. If it’s the style of the artist that’s attracted you then allow the artist to complete the piece how they want with just minimal guidance from you.

Because you are paying, there may be the temptation to lay down controlling boundaries. You must avoid this totally. Explain in the broadest terms the subject that you would like to be addressed by the artist and walk away. If you put the artist under any pressures of constraints then you will most likely lose the style that attracted you in the first place.

Give the artist the brief and accept that while he or she is working on it that it belongs to him or her. It has to be this way. Anything other than this will lead to a creation that will most likely be alien to both the artist and you. It may well be that the only input that you can allow yourself, apart from the subject, is where the piece is to be displayed in your home and the actual size.

Spend enough time with your artist and establish his or her level of experience in managing commissioned works. Explain your expectations but be mindful of the freedom that the artist needs. They are about to perform for you, so be giving. Give him or her the room to expand on your ideas and an experienced artist will deliver.

If you settle upon a style that you particularly like and an artist that you feel comfortable with but the cost is stretching your budget then consider a payment plan. If you have worked at building a good and trusting relationship with your artist then a monthly payment would work all round.

How to buy art online

This is so easy to do. It can be done anywhere and at any time. There are websites that are well laid out showing a range of categories and a selection within each of these. All the information you need is available in one place. There are no opening and closing times. You can take your time to make a decision but if you are considering an original then time will be the essence. There are choices about framing. Most online art galleries provide art, framed and ready to hang. There is the option for those who want to make their own arrangements.

Buying prints of famous paintings

If an original is beyond your budget then don’t rule out prints. There is a vast selection out there to choose from with quality prints available at reasonable prices. Don’t think of this as being a dumbing down. There is nothing wrong with displaying printed artwork. To the eye this will be just as agreeable as the most valuable originals out there.

Before buying printed artwork online be sure to check your chosen site carefully. There are many sites out there that sell printed and original art but not all of them are honest. Beware of scam sites that will take your money and you won’t see anything arrive for it or you may recieve artwork which they aren’t licensed to sell. So, do plenty of research about a site before parting with cash.

Viewing art for inspiration

Ultimately, whatever you do to adorn your walls with art, you will need some inspiration. There is plenty of advice available from many sources. One of these being where you can have the experience of going into a virtual world of an art gallery. Just click the link that takes you to the display that appeals to you and spend some time looking around.

When you have seen enough of one gallery Hall then just click on the link at the exit that takes you to one of the other Halls.


Happy viewing’

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Image sources: Inset: MAGNOLIAS Saatchi art

pxhere.comInset: land(E)scape Saatchi