selecting art you love is only one part of the equation

design tips layering art selecting art for interiors

     The most common advice abouts selecting art is to buy art that you like. While that is good advice, unless you are an art collector who designs entire spaces around a collection, that is not quite enough information to make your task of pulling together a cohesive and dynamic living space with art that inspires and reflects your lifestyle.  You will easily find quite a lot of art that you enjoy looking at and thinking about. There is so much available to us that it can get overwhelming! There is a good chance you will find many pieces you admire and enjoy but would not like to live with.These are pieces that would not contribute to the ambience you seek to create in your home. For example, if your home is a traditional farmhouse with blend of french provincial & shabby chic tendencies, that oversized pop art print you love might be a piece you show at your office instead.

     With so many styles & media of art to choose from, it really helps to narrow down your search.  If you are working with an architecture firm, interior designer, decorator, or stylist there is a good chance they will have some favorite sources for art and will make recommendations for you. Let them know you are interested in seeing art they recommend for your space. Discuss your budget for art, show them pieces you love, talk about why you love them.  If you are working on your own project, take the time to consider your space as a whole. Think like a designer. Consider how the space is used, what the lighting is like, how the traffic flows, the color scheme, which walls demand attention, and most importantly perhaps, what mood you would like to cultivate.

     This is where the mood board comes into play. A mood board is fun to make and if you’ve been gathering images on Pinterest for your living room or other space, you’ve likely already made one!  A mood board is simply a collection of images that guides the decision making process as the elements of your room are selected. Yours should include a color palette, textures, as well as images of items which will be prominent in the space, such as a hand carved wood beam, a stucco arch, your Barcelona couch or live edge desk, and fabrics you'll be using.  It’s like a blueprint for bringing together all the elements of your interior to express your style. When you find art you like you can use your mood board to help determine if it is a good fit for the area you are designing.

     Okay, let’s do an example. You are renovating a mid-century modern home and have an entryway with a gorgeous & warm wood room divider to the living area which has a hardwood floor. You have a sofa and rug picked out & beyond that there is a white table with orange chairs in front of a picture window that is visible from this space. So, back to the entryway. You decide to keep your grandmother’s teak credenza and you’re thinking you might add a picture shelf above that. (That's a trend that is actually timeless - when done right.) You found a vintage runner in a muted palette, art nouveau design that will span the length of the hall.   Now, you really have something to go on and begin earnestly searching for your wall art.

     Your search might include words like art nouveau, mid-century modern, modern abstract landscape painting, framed art prints. It is a good idea to include colors and sizes to help narrow your search.  With all those warm woods, you might want to go with a contrasting palette of blues and greens that has yellow ochre & orange accents.   It is a great idea to choose pieces that reflect the beauty of the natural world, as mid-century homes were often created to do. Choosing  to display a collection of prints let's you have both the serene landscape and the abstract painting whose shapes let your imagination run wild.

     After collecting images of a bunch of pieces you love and running each through your mood board visual filter, you have a dozen or so prints that reflect your interests and style and bring out the best of your interior design. From these dozen you narrow it down to 5  prints which you feel work well together or are the ones you just can't live without. You must consider color relationships, relative sizes, and framing so they work well together on your new picture rail and present a polished collection.  (more on presenting a unified & polished collection later)

     If you want a bolder statement in your entryway, you might select a wallpaper or mural, such as one from our reflections series to run the length of the wall. This is a great idea since the whole wall becomes a piece of art large enough to way to unify the foyer with the living area.  You also like the idea that one side of the rhythmic print will be behind the teak wall divider adding textural interest to the living area. You think you have it figured out, but there is one art nouveau poster  that you can't let go of.  It works so well with the colors of the runner and has long been a favorite image for you. Not a problem- layering is essential to a well developed style and that framed print will look great against your new wallpaper. Simply add the picture shelf, prop up your print, add a plant, a vase, a figurine....FUN!

     Choosing art is fun, but with all the choices available to us these days, it is easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down. The best way to deal with this is to work with a or like a designer. If you'll be your own designer, create a mood board to refine and state your vision, narrow in on your search terms, filter what you like through the mood board criterion, and consider going with your boldest choices to make your project more personal. 

  I hope this helps you take on your next design project with confidence. You can create a cohesive and dynamic living space with art that inspires and reflects your lifestyle.


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