How Interior Designers Choose Art
How Interior Designers Choose Art

What Interior Designers Know About Selecting & Hanging Art

Words by Leah Melby | 7.16.16
Though no one can deny the shared DNA between layering clothing and home furnishings, a penchant for putting together the perfect outfit does not necessarily equate to knowing how to style a physical space. Herewith, interior professionals share thoughts on selecting art, deciding where to display it, and more.

Consider art first.

How interior designers choose artFive Reds, 2002 by Donald Sultan, $3,000

Aesthetics and personal connection count equally when it comes to art, creating a tricky balance that’s best found first. “Good art can elevate a space. If you have an inexpensive sofa with an amazing painting above it, people will be so mesmerized that the whole space will look high end,” Orlando Soria, West Coast Creative Director of Homepolish, insisted. There needn’t be a high level of contrast either: “If the art is good, matching colors look atmospheric, not tacky.”

Look for pieces that tell your story.

How interior designers choose art

“Always, always buy what you love,” said Ann Huff, co-owner with Meg Harrington of Atlanta’s Huff Harrington Fine Art and Huff Harrington Home. “We edge our clients out of their comfort zones because when you buy a painting that has some mystery or evocativeness, you may see something different as you get to know it better. It’s wonderful to grow along with your art.”
“Seek out art that says something to you, that you respond to,” Soria said, adding that avoiding trendy, seen-everywhere pieces is paramount. Should something not fit with your general design scheme, rely on framing to tie everything together.

Go big.

How interior designers choose artHorizon Bar, 1973 by James Rosenquist, $450

Creative by nature, designers are reliably resistant to speaking about rules. Still, Soria advises that art hanging above furniture should be at least two-thirds its width. Group smaller pieces in a grid or as a gallery wall. “Having too-small art is one of the design mistakes I see most often. As a general rule, always go bigger than your first instinct tells you.”

Consider a room’s energy.

How interior designers choose art

Art can either underline the vibe of a space or playfully toy with it. Soria reserves dramatic pieces for public areas like the living and dining rooms and keeps subtle art for bedrooms. Meanwhile, the Huff Harrington team suggested experimenting with opposites, hanging classic portraiture in a sleek, modern kitchen.

Refresh your art.

How interior designers choose art

Treasured pieces can feel new again if reframed or positioned alongside new buys. “If a painting feels dated, pair it with an abstract or contemporary piece—it will breathe new life into both,” Harrington suggested. “Moving pieces to new locations is another simple solution. We do it all the time and see clients fall back in love with something.”
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