Tips for choosing art for your home

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Art can be a finishing touch, a conversation piece, or a focal point in a room.

“It provides visual beauty, but it’s also a layer of life that has a story to it,” says Whitney Furstner, founder of Into/Art. “And when we allow ourselves to open up about that story and connection, it’s fun and powerful.”

But choosing art for your home can be challenging. You want to collect pieces that have staying power, that will be relevant for many years and you will not get tired of them. This is a long request. Where do you start? How do you know what to buy or where to buy?

The right pieces are visually interesting and provide an emotional connection, but they don’t have to break your budget to be beautiful and meaningful.

“We’re all collectors,” says Forstner. “You don’t have to buy a thing at Sotheby’s. Frame your child’s handprint, and that’s the start of the collection.”

There are many ways to design a gallery wall. We’ll start with you.

We spoke with Forstner and another design expert for advice on building your own home art collection. Here are their suggestions.

Select what you want. If you don’t know where to start, spend some time defining your style. Do you gravitate towards photography or landscapes? Are you attracted to realism or abstract images? How do you feel about the bold colors? Imagine how the different pieces would look in your home.

“Art isn’t as intimidating as it might seem. You don’t have to know art history to know what you like. You can fill your home with pieces that feel personal to you and match your aesthetic,” says Bridget Malone, managing editor of MyDomaine and the Spruce. “Art should make you happy when you look at it.”

Browse magazines and catalogs to see how art combines with elements of design and other arts. Notice what he talks to you. Is it the contrast between an abstract and antique hunk, or are you more interested in muted landscapes paired with contemporary furnishings?

Connecting with artists and understanding the story behind their work also creates an emotional connection. With artists documenting their processes through time-lapse videos and posting photos of their work in progress on Instagram, you can learn about how they work and what inspires them.

Consider your space. Your walls tell you how large the pieces will be, and your furnishings and accessories will need to pair well with the artwork you choose. “If someone has a big red sofa, we don’t want a big red piece of art,” says Forstner. Instead, you are looking for “something that does not compete, but complements”.

When you visit a home, Forstner gets a feel for the owner’s style and color preferences. She also asks her clients how the room is used and how they want to feel when they are in it.

For example, in a family room, you might suggest more personal items, such as family photos or prints from the holidays. In bedrooms, she recommends pieces in soft, muted colors, including landscape blues and greens, to create a relaxing vibe. In kitchens, you can be more active and hang something unexpected and fun, like an abstract with bold shapes. “Art follows the moods and patterns of space,” she says.

Decide where to shop. Showrooms are an obvious place to start, but they can be overwhelming for newcomers. There are other low-key places where you can find art at reasonable prices, including local art galleries and craft fairs.

Our life is full of family photos. Why are they so hard to comment?

Check museum gift stores for prints or buy postcards for artwork you like, then bring them home to see what the colors and motifs look like in your space. For the painting prints you see in museums, buy copies through an electronic tailor such as Fine Art America, where you can choose paper, mat, and frame. Vacations provide another opportunity to explore art. Anything that reminds you of leaving is a thoughtful way to tell your story and share happy memories.

For shopping on a budget, Malone recommends big box stores like Target or Ikea. “It’s pre-framed for people who might be intimidated by creating their own group,” she says. “You just have to hang it up, and you can’t beat the price point.”

To avoid the cookie-cutter look, she recommends pairing mass-produced artwork from department stores with more sentimental pieces by local artists or items sourced from thrift stores. “If you buy the entire Artistic Target corridor and use it to create a gallery wall, you lose out on the opportunity to truly express yourself and your style through your art,” she says. “Think of these large pieces of art as building blocks that you can build on with more personal choices.”

Malone also suggests buying prints from websites such as Society6 and Poster Club. E-retailers like Minted and Etsy allow shoppers to support independent artists. Minted produces pieces for artists, and through Etsy, you can buy prints or digital downloads that you can print at home or in a store. there is something [harks] Going back to that emotional aspect when you feel like you’re directly supporting someone,” Malone says.

If you’re looking for something exotic or out of production, Malone suggests trying estate sales, online auctions, and garage sales. Facebook Marketplace is one of her favorite places to buy pre-owned items. “People who move or redecorate are looking to sell quickly,” she says. “There are some really unexpected gems.”

Coffee table books are another goldmine of affordable arts. Cut out the glossy pages, then frame them. “There is no limit to what counts as art,” Malone says.

Play with scale and scale. A large blank wall may make you feel excited to fill the void, but be patient. Wait for the right piece. “A blank wall is better than buying something you don’t like,” says Forstner.

Measure your walls and consider the size. The cohesive and balanced collection includes a variety of sizes. “It’s like a big puzzle,” says Forstner.

For larger walls, hang two large 3-by-4-foot pieces together with three to five inches between them. She says, “This usually looks best with abstractions and art created by one artist, or diptych, which is art spanning two large canvases with one image.”

When mixing several sizes, hang the largest piece on one side, then collect the smaller pieces on the other side. The assembly should not exceed the total size of the larger piece. Keep spacing between pieces consistent.

Little arts can make a statement, too. Forstner recommends collecting nine or 12 pieces from one artist to create a grid.

“Diversity is key,” she says. “You don’t want to have one big piece of art on every wall.”

Marisa Hermanson is a freelance writer in Richmond.

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