To make your painting collection shine to the fullest, I have jotted down my ten golden rules for choosing the perfect painting for your interior design. These are the rules I keep when fitting a piece to a home, ensuring that everything blends together seamlessly. I’ll share them with you so you can fully utilize the paintings to tie your rooms together.
Trust me, as an artist; I’m as inclined as anyone to allow my artistic side to run off and play with the possibilities to my heart’s content. However, doing that can get you into trouble when dealing with hard facts like room sizes and colour schemes.
What room are we looking to fill? How big is the room? Are you looking for a single painting or multiple pieces to create a gallery wall? What colours are the walls? What’s the room’s purpose, and how should a painting and its colours fit that purpose? What feelings should the piece evoke?
How do these specifications fit into your budget? What areas are negotiable, and which are hard-and-fast laws?
Starting with these questions will give you a solid foundation to fall back on when you’re emotionally torn between two pieces. They can also serve to keep your wallet happy.
Choose to Colour Clash or Colour Match
What colour already exists in the room we are buying for? Are there already many colours, or is it more neutral in colour? These questions are integral because they will help you decide what your painting will do: integrate into existing colours, or provide a pop of colour to a neutral room.
Pick two or three accents from the existing colours in a room that already has a lot of colours. Then, look for these colours in the artwork you buy, and the little touches will reach out to each other and tie together.
For neutral rooms, you can go a little bolder with your paintings. This acts as a focal point, livening up the space and breathing life into it. Be careful not to clash the tones- you don’t want a neon painting if you have many cream colours in the room. We’re looking for a cohesive pop, like a cherry on top.
Consider Your End Goal
Consider these questions when looking at paintings: How do you want to feel in this space? Is this your lively dining room where you want to evoke thought and conversation? Do you want a quiet, peaceful bedroom that immediately relaxes the knots from your shoulders? What colours and shapes make you feel more relaxed? When you close your eyes and imagine the space, is the artwork you see on the wall bold and beautiful or calm and comforting?
Spending some time to be aware of the emotions you want to evoke in the room will help you find a piece that fits perfectly with that emotional theme. Artwork will not feel like it belongs in a room if it doesn’t work with the desired emotional effect.
Bold colours and shapes wake us up, bringing life and liveliness into rooms. Expressive brush strokes and pops of colour bring dynamism into the room, creating an environment that jumps up and celebrates.
Soft colours like light blue and gentle brush strokes ease our souls and make a room more relaxing. Likewise, neutral or pastel colours have a calming effect, and simple line drawings can provide restful energy.
Large Paintings Are For Spacious Halls, Small Paintings Are For Intimate Rooms
You may think, “Oh, the wall is 10 feet long, and the painting is nine feet long, so it fits!” But large paintings need a large perspective to back them up. A distance of several feet is necessary to get the full effect of the picture and how it complements the room.
Just barely squeaking a painting into a room can make the room feel cluttered, small, and stuffy. It might feel like the artwork is looming over you, and you can’t appreciate its full beauty because you can’t see its full beauty, just what’s right at the tip of your nose.
With large paintings, an ample space where you can stand back and really appreciate it makes the room feel grand and decorated.
Similarly, a small painting in a large room gets lost in the space. Like a golf ball in a field of grass, even though it’s different in colour, shape, and texture, there’s just so much grass you can’t find the little painting.
A small painting can make a small room feel cozy. Details in smaller paintings can be appreciated from closer and can add intricacy quickly and without taking up precious space.
The Rule Of Contrast
Choose paintings that contrast with the wall they will be hanging on. For example, a painting in light colours will look best against a dark wall, popping off the wall and being showcased by the dark colours. Conversely, a darker painting will be framed by a lighter wall as if the canvas extends over the entire wall.
You can also highlight the painting with a contrasting frame. For example, a light frame for a dark picture or a dark frame for a light painting can offset the colours in the image and wall, blending the two. You can add depth with a frame of two colours for simple colour schemes.
This contrast can be complemented by the proper use of colour and accents. For example, suppose you have an accent colour that can be incorporated into the painting. In that case, contrasting it with a lighter or darker wall depending on the colour of the painting can bring a sense of planning and cohesiveness.
Making Spaces Larger Without a Hammer
If you choose to buy multiple paintings, you can strategically place them to make your space seem larger without hiring a construction crew. For example, hanging pictures side-by-side in a horizontal line will lengthen the room, while vertically placed paintings make the room seem taller. Likewise, diagonal placements look excellent along the stairs, climbing in a line over the staircase.
Mix formats of paintings on one wall for a carpeting effect. This can look very put together and interesting, drawing the eye outwards while giving cohesive emotion. The carpeting in this way requires awareness of the pieces’ size and shape and the colour of the frames.
Match Line and Form Where Possible
When buying furniture, you look for flattering shapes and flows. Some dining sets are all edges and straight lines, and your couch set might be an elegant sweep of curved waves, and who does not love a pile of circular pillows?
Consider the lines and shapes in your furniture as you look for artwork. We’re trying to match and continue the flow in your room, syncing everything together.
If your furniture is full of soft curves and fluid lines, look for sweeping strokes and flowing movement in the artwork. You can also imagine the painting next to select pieces of your furniture to see how it “fits.”
Consider paintings with defined lines and crisp details with hard, angled, or industrial edges to your furniture. Geometric abstracts can match well with the harder edges, tying the room together.
Focus On Your Focal Point
Every room in every house should have a focal point. The moment you walk into the room, the eye is immediately drawn to a place. Maybe you’re looking to get a piece of artwork to act as your focal point, or maybe you already have one. The room only needs one commanding focal point. Choosing more than one will make the room feel chaotic and cluttered.
If you already have a focal point, choose artwork incorporating elements of the same colour as your focal point. The flecks of similar colours will help them relate to each other. Look for pieces with subtler patterns. Less imposing artwork is better, so it complements your focal point rather than competing with it.
With no focal point, feel free to make artwork that makes guests go “WOW” when they walk into the room. Go for bold, big, and visually striking.
What’s Your Style?
Most golden rules involve tying the room together, but this one is about connecting the space to your personal style. What is your visual style? Are you drawn to more geometric shapes or loose swirls and flows? Is a landscape more your speed or a figurative piece? Maybe a figurative landscape? This is a good time to wander through art galleries and get a good idea of your style.
It doesn’t matter how much artwork matches the rest of the room if it doesn’t make you light up when you enter that room.
The flip side is remembering that variety is the spice of life. If you don’t have one specific taste, but prefer an eclectic mix, go for it! Mix styles together to play off one another, creating energy and emotion in the room.
Choose Your Format
A perennial question is canvas vs. framed art. Depending on the feeling you’re looking for in the room, this could change how you hang your paintings.
Unframed canvas art has a simple, relaxed look. Depending on the piece you buy, this can be either good or bad. Original work where the artist has put their heart and soul on the canvas pops out, filling the room. However, hanging it without a frame can look just as good as with a frame.
Framed canvas art can look more expensive and palatial. Adding a black frame to a canvas painting can add gravitas and elegance. However, in sun-drenched rooms, the glass pane can reflect sunlight and detract from the room’s overall effect.