Choosing artwork

A few weeks ago, I published an article about what to do when faced with blank walls. One of the solutions we talked about was hanging artwork; it is quick and easy to install, it can bring a splash of colour and it can inject a little personality into a space.

But people often come unstuck when buying artwork. What type of art to buy? Where to source it? How many items to buy? It can be a whole minefield of its own! 

So how do you choose art? Let me share with you some basics…

1. Proportion & Scale

First off, look at the size of the space you are hoping to fill. The scale of the wall you are covering should dictate the scale of the artwork you choose. If you have a large blank wall, then your artwork should be large too. A small piece of artwork in a big space will just look lost. Smaller spaces generally look better with small scale art, although sometimes an oversized piece can be used for effect. 

You can create an illusion of large scale art by hanging several smaller pieces together, either in a grid layout, or a more organic gallery wall style. 

When buying prints, remember that the mount board and frame can add several inches to the dimensions of the print, so allow for this in your measurements.

2. Proximity

 Image: Rhapsody by  Twist of Lime  Image: Rhapsody by Twist of Lime

If you are hanging several pieces of art together, make sure that you hang them close to one other. One of the biggest mistakes people make with art is hanging one small piece on its own, or spreading a collection out on different walls within a room. Pictures should be hung in reasonably close proximity to each other, so that it is clear that the individual pictures belong together. 

When hanging several different pieces, make sure that the gaps between their frames is equidistant. There is nothing worse than a wall of pictures where the gap sizes are all different. 

If the pictures in the image above were more spread out, they would look disjointed. Grouped together as they are, they look as though they belong together, and form one coherent display.

3. Repetition

For art to look cohesive in your scheme, it should echo, or repeat something else in your room. This can often be a colour, but it can also be a shape or a pattern. Stick to the ‘three places’ rule: make sure that the colour or pattern in the artwork is repeated in at least three different places throughout the room, in perhaps cushions, vases or lamps for example. 

 The tan, blue, green, black and white in the prints and frames are repeated in the artwork and across the room in cushions, vases, plants and the footstool.   Image: Prints by  Hunting for George  The tan, blue, green, black and white in the prints and frames are repeated in the artwork and across the room in cushions, vases, plants and the footstool.  Image: Prints by Hunting for George

If you are using a collection of pictures, make sure that either the mount boards, or the frames are similar, or repeated in other frames in the collection. Again, this brings cohesion to the display. 

4. Subject

Think about the overall style you are aiming to create in your room, and choose the subject of your artwork accordingly. Floral prints and landscapes can work well in a country scheme, whereas graphic prints work better in a mid-century or modern design. 



That said, sometimes designers choose a piece of artwork that is at odds with the style of the room, to create contrast and impact.

For example, a dramatic modern print can look stunning against a backdrop of a traditional Victorian room, as in this image on the left. The modern print is a great foil to the heavy traditional elements elsewhere in the room.

Don’t be afraid to have a play around and experiment with different styles.

5. Where to shop?

If you fancy investing some money in artwork, then heading to your local gallery is a good starting point. Auction houses also sell original artwork, and it’s worth finding out about your local auction dates and times.

But if you want something on a smaller budget, then look for online stores that sell prints, rather than original works. Companies like ( in the US) bring a wide variety of prints to the market for really reasonable prices, and shops like Etsy and Not On The High Street sell quirky and unique products if you are looking for something a little different.

What are your challenges when it comes to choosing art? Come and head on over to join our Facebook community, and share your blank walls. Let us help you bring them to life!

Until next time x

Main Image Source: Melodic & Lola, Urban Road

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