Hello 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
Not 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
Depending 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
When 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
Don’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
Make 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
My 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
I 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…
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.
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?
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.
I 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:
- Examine a Room in 2-D
- Tips for Getting Scale Right
- Choosing the Perfect Paint Color
- Making Moodboards & Conceptualizing a Room
- Floor Planning
- Mixing High & Low
- Planning & Managing Projects
- Choosing Fabric
- Mixing Metals
- Choosing Lighting Temperature & Bulbs
Are 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.