Designer Trick : Artwork Installation

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comHello hello, and happy August! I’m back to my desk after a fun family vacation- thanks for being patient with me last week! I hadn’t seen my siblings in years, and it was great to give hugs and spend quality time with our niece and nephews. I hope you had an equally as fulfilling weekend. July was a busy month of travel for us- I suppose we made up for lost time. Anywho, I’m excited to be back! Today I wanted to share a new Designer Trick post with you. I just ordered a big haul of artwork (both new and vintage pieces for our house & office), so my design brain has been on that specific topic lately. Artwork really makes a home and is a detail that shouldn’t be missed when it comes to interior design. It adds character, shares the unique taste of a home’s inhabitants, tells a personal story, and is the perfect conversation starter. It’s always a good investment that may or may not be sentimental. I usually think of artwork in three categories: originals, vintage & antique pieces, and prints or replicas- being the most affordable. In today’s post, I’m sharing my installation & interior design tips for all things art! Click through to see how to make good selections you’ll love for years to come, my thoughts on pairing works of art, how to consider composition, and tricks for installations & pairings that look timeless and designerly. This post is packed full of great info, my seven best tips, a quick Q&A, and some examples. I hope it’s helpful! 

I’m going to jump right in with seven really good tips, when it comes to sourcing and installing art. Ready?

1: Choose Artwork That Resonates

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comNot all artwork has to be sentimental, BUT- I do believe that artwork should speak to you, resonate in some way, align with your aesthetic, or simply make you happy. I really enjoy choosing and purchasing artwork that is meaningful, makes me feel something, reminds me of a special place, person, memory, or represents travel or a moment in time. Emmett and I always try to pick up a piece of art during our travels, and those are always my favorite pieces because they remind me of our adventures over the years. The above image was painted by one of my high school friends… it’s Emmett’s childhood horse and she gifted me the painting for taking her wedding photos. My point is this: whether you’re buying an original or a print- find something that makes you feel something and puts a smile on your face! Art is the best opportunity to insert your personality into your home.

2: Presentation is Important

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comDepending on what the medium is, always make sure your art is being presented in a thoughtful way. For example- we built a pedestal for my vintage marble horse sculpture. Resting it on the floor didn’t feel as meaningful and highlight in the way that felt appropriate for the piece. The same goes for two dimensional pieces that you hang on your wall… don’t skip the frame or an intentional installation. I always frame my pieces, carefully choosing the mat, frame, and maybe even a gallery light to accompany the vignette. Spending the time and money to consider the display for your art always pays off- especially if it’s a piece you know you’ll have for years to come (which is always the goal).

3: Think About Scale

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comWhen choosing and installing art, you definitely have to consider scale and proportion. Whether you’re styling a miniature painting or an oversized piece, consider how it looks in the room, how it feels on the wall, if there is adequate negative space, and make sure the vignette feels balanced. An example? One of my favorite tricks for displaying a tiny painting is to frame it with an extra large mat for tons of negative space. It really draws your eye to the center of the artwork and has a better presence on the wall.

4: Get Creative

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comDon’t be afraid to install artwork in unexpected places, and get creative with the content itself… don’t just think of art as 2D pieces you hang on the wall- consider sculptural works, framed textiles, shadow boxes for objects, displayed collections, etc. Art comes in many forms and looks best when displayed intentionally, in creative ways throughout the home.

5: Consider Composition

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comMake sure you consider composition in your home. What exactly does that mean? Allow a piece to stand alone on a wall, or pair it with other works- like a gallery wall setting, stacked, or in a pairing. I’ll chat more about choosing pairings below!

6: Advice for Pairing

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comMy best advice for pairing artwork is to take one of two directions: keep it cohesive or go for contrast. If you’re keeping it cohesive, that doesn’t mean everything has to match perfectly… you just need one cohesive element in an artwork pairing. It could be the content, the frame style, the subject matter, the color palette, etc. If you can’t find a cohesive element, then try to choose a piece that has as much contrast as possible… like a traditional painting paired with something modern, photographic, or abstract. That juxtaposition is always nice and interesting!

7: Highlight the Vignette

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comI love an intentional art design moment that includes a gallery light. Lighting a vignette adds ambiance, emphasizes a piece of artwork in such a special way, and really demands attention. I think it feels very designerly and is one of my favorite tricks for installing artwork! Much like shoes or handbags in fashion, gallery lights are my accessory addiction in the home realm. I have a handful in my prop closet just waiting to be used. You can’t go wrong! I’m linking a bunch below for you…

I didn’t want to wrap the post without a short little Q&A. These are the most asked questions that frequent my inbox and DMs…

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation -


Where do you like to source vintage art?

Great question! You can find vintage art in my shop, Tuesday Made. That’s all sourced by me… from estate sales, thrift trips, etc. I actually have a handful of new pieces to add tomorrow! Much like vintage rugs, they go quick. Other favorite sources include Ebay and Etsy… catch my favorite fruit still lifes here, charcoal line drawings, equestrian art, and vintage dog portraits… all from Etsy.

How high should you hang art?

This is kind of a loaded question. It depends on your height and the height of those living in your home. I like to say the average based on the homeowners. After all, art is for YOU to enjoy! Of course you do want it to look balanced though. I often see artwork installed too high. When in doubt, lower it a couple inches. I also like weird or unexpected installations… against tile on a backsplash, on the back of a shelf, super low above dog dishes, tucked into a nook or cranny, in a closet or intimate space, etc. Get creative, but also make sure the majority is at eye level or balances a vignette.

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation -

Do you have a favorite place to frame your artwork?

Nothing beats local art shops and framers (Fine Art Inn in Salt Lake City for my local friends). I’ve also collaborated with Framebridge in the past and they’ve done an excellent job (if you’re looking for the quick online route).

Do you have a source for affordable art?

Digital art and prints are wonderful and affordable! My favorite resource for that is Juniper. Though I may be biased because I have a couple prints in their shop (here and here).

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation -

Is there a rule for what size gallery light to buy based on the scale of the artwork?

I like to think in thirds! Usually I find a light that is two thirds the size of the art. If I’m installing a gallery wall, sometimes I’ll pair 2-3 lights over the entire vignette… with the larger installations, you have to think of multiple smaller pieces as a whole unit, if that makes sense.

Are your gallery lights hardwired or battery powered? Which do you prefer?

We have both, as well as plug-in units. Whether you’re hardwiring for the long haul, want to keep it simple with a battery powered light, or are opting for a plug-in option, all have the same special effect! I really don’t have a preference. I think it depends on the situation, project, budget, and environment for functionality.

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comI also have a LOT of art posts I’ve shared over the years… from roundups to helpful tutorials, and everything in between. Feel free to scroll through my art-related posts here! The archives are packed full of valuable and helpful information. I’m trying to do better about sharing reminders for past posts because a lot of the good stuff gets buried.

If you have missed any of the posts in the Designer Trick series, fee free to catch up below! So far, I’ve covered the following:

Designer Trick : Artwork Installation - roomfortuesday.comAre there other topics you’d like designer tips or insight for? Let me know and I’ll add them to my calendar! I hope this one was helpful. If you have any art related questions, leave them for me in the comment section below. I’d love to help answer any I missed. I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! Cheers to a new month… we are one step closer to fall. Hah! I don’t want to wish summer away, but I’m definitely ready for cooler temperatures over here.

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  1. Good morning and welcome back! Yay for sibling hugs! A big art haul sounds kind of dreamy; I’m excited to see what you chose for your office. (And fingers crossed that your new daybed source works out!) Finding original or quirky artwork while thrifting always makes my day. I am naturally drawn to color first, but a piece that conjures a memory or sparks an emotion is a treasure. I love the notion of purchasing art to commemorate a trip, but I’ve never been that intentional. I’m terrible at shopping under pressure, too! Another fab idea that I can’t seem to implement for myself is the gallery light. I adore the look but struggle to decide when a piece or space is deserving of a spotlight. Maybe it seems too formal for my aesthetic? (But, that mahogany example with the brass caps is stunning!) Regardless of medium or presentation, I completely agree that art in a home reveals so much about the inhabitants. Bare walls just seem sad. I’m here for all the art discussions!
    I’m also ready for August! (Leo season, baby!😉) I’m going to do a little cake experimenting, so here’s to a sweet week for us all!💜🧑🏻‍🍳

    1. Thank you, thank you!! Yay for sibling hugs for both of us last week. Family time was so needed! We came home from vacation to find 8(!) pieces of art at our doorstep. The daybed situation is happening as we speak… I’m about to go finalize everything and choose fabric at the local upholstery shop (who I’m looking forward to working with). We bring a piece of art home from every trip! It’s something I won’t leave without (maybe that’s my excuse to buy something home related, ha). Sometimes it’s a painting or sculpture, and sometimes it’s a simple vintage dish that I’ll display. It’s fun to look at those objects and remember the stories behind them. The pressure definitely happens on the flight or drive home (trying not to break it). I dropped my blue & white dish on the way home from the Netherlands and I’m surprised it didn’t crack. Whew! Happy Leo season!!! Bring on August and lots of tasty cakes! xo

  2. These are such great tips! Thank you for sharing! Glad you got to enjoy time with family. :)

    1. Thanks, Megan! I’m so happy to hear that. Hopefully they come in handy. Family time is the best! It had been years since I had seen my people, and it was a lovely reunion at the beach :) Hope you’re having a great day!

  3. Such a timely post for me! I’m doing a gallery wall in our living room from floor to ceiling. I love that look! It’s the same wall our tv is hanging on so I’m hoping it all just kind of blends together. I’m currently bidding on some artwork on, so here’s hoping. I’ve found though that it’s going to take lots of time to do it, since it will be all special pieces to us for one reason or another, and that takes time to collect. Also, I loved the story about the horse portrait you have. What a special piece!!

    1. I love hearing that, Brittany! The gallery wall is such a smart solution for a TV wall. We did that in our first home and I still think it’s a classic, beautiful look. Fingers crossed you won the EBTH art?! I’ve also had good luck on Live Auctioneers lately. I echo your point on taking your time to collect so you have pieces that are meaningful. I wholeheartedly agree! The horse piece is a special one to us. Derby (the subject horse in the painting) is still alive and well, despite his very old age, but I know it’s a piece we’ll cherish for years to come… because he’s a special horse and because our childhood friend painted it for us :)

  4. Sounds like your family trip was wonderful! Glad you found another option for your daybed disaster. Watching someone float walls is relaxing…so is painting. Ha!
    Digital art and prints are ones I have really been liking lately. Your windmill and bison prints are so nice! I look forward to using gallery lighting in our next home. I have always loved the look and there are some pretty options out there. Every time I see your dog portraits I sigh cause I love them! You are talented Sarah! Great questions and of course you expand with details so well. Enjoyed the post.
    Have a good Monday! Hope your week is a good one. I might actually get to see each of your posts this week which hasn’t happened in months.

    1. It really was, Danna! It’s always refreshing to spend time with family. We have the best time together. I’m about to finalize my daybed at the local shop right now. I think that will be a better option anyway, and I’m glad to support a local company instead. Such a frustrating situation with OKL, though. I’m making a mental note to share more IG stories of Emmett floating and skim coating the walls. Haha! I agree with you- it’s relaxing. Thanks so much for your kind words about my dog paintings. I’m excited to hang those in our future laundry room someday :) I hope you’re also having a fantastic week so far. Things are all good here, and we even got some much needed rain. I’m calling it a win, and it’s only Tuesday! xo

  5. You have such great tips for artwork! Now if only I could conjure up the courage to just go searching for art, ha! I have found several pieces that I like on Etsy, but I have yet to find something that makes me truly over the moon. I’m not sure if it’s overwhelming, or if my brain just isn’t in artwork mode with this house, but sadly, many of our walls are bare. I enjoy seeing the artwork you choose for your own home; you have such an eye and knack for choosing and pairing great pieces. I may just have to choose a space and challenge myself to fill it. I adore the look of gallery lights highlighting specific pieces, and at some point I will add a few to our home. The examples you’ve shown here are all beautiful choices. Welcome back Sarah! It sounds like you had much needed quality time with your siblings. The office is really starting to take shape, and I’m happy you were able to find a new source for the day bed. Here’s to a wonderful week ahead!

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I hope they were helpful. I’m an art fanatic, so it’s a fun topic! It was really awesome to see the family and catch up with everyone. The kiddos are growing like crazy- I barely recognized them. Ha! Hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks :) xo

  6. I love your mention of art hung above dog bowls. I just hung two little pieces of art above my cat’s litter box in my downstairs powder bath. It’s the bathroom guests use and I just thought it was a funny little surprise! I found two paintings of women with cats, got them printed wallet size at Walgreens, and put them in little frames I found at Michael’s. Everyone deserves art in their spaces! ;)

    1. I love that! It’s a fun little surprise and feels really creative to me. Great minds ;) I like your idea of mini art at the cat’s station… so cute! Years ago (in our first home) I created a little dog corner and did something similar with the art: Totally agree that art deserves to be in every space!

  7. Hi There! Great post and very helpful. I’m obsessed with the paint color in your very first photo. Any chance you can share the name of it?