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Tips for Buying Art


Article by Elizabeth Wade Studio

Photography by Elizabeth Wade

Art is important, but it doesn't have to be hard to find!

Do you have artwork in your home that you don’t enjoy? Whether you have too many blank walls or have been looking for that special “over the sofa” piece for ages, I believe that what we display on our walls tells the story of who we are.

Life is just too short to give space to something you’ve never liked. A home’s most important members are its people, not all the things! Don’t you want to walk into your house and feel happy and inspired, ready to rest, communicate or create with your family? Let me walk you through five ways to have the house that inspires you.

Grab a notepad and write down five ways to describe your ideal space.

TIP 1: Placement

First make a list below of spaces in your home that need artwork, or start small and simply choose the space that is bothering you the most.

This first step of planning is critical for the best result. Stay focused on solving these areas one by one. Keep this list on your phone or in your purse. Sometimes you see something you love, and you know that you will find a spot. I love those moments. Do it! Otherwise mindset and focus are the key to choosing art that you can enjoy for years.

Spaces to incorporate art in your home:

  • A large statement in entry way or over furniture. Go big!
  • A gallery wall or multiple framed work in one area.
  •  This can include personal photos, kids’ artwork, paintings or even 3-D objects such as a memento from a vacation.
  • Laundry rooms can be cheerful with good art!
  • Over a window or doorway is a great way to sneak in a small piece that you love.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a unique piece for your bathroom.
  • If you have a small spot in your closet, hang something just for you.
  • Begin and end your day calm or inspired by artwork in your bedroom

Write down five spaces where you would like artwork.

TIP 2: Size

Think about the last store or inspiring home you’ve visited. Most likely they have had a trained designer decide size and placement. Pay attention to why you love browsing that store or visiting that friend’s home. Improperly hung art is an eyesore! Generally art is hung too high and often is too small for the space. Keep your list handy and record a range of dimensions that will work. If the art will be hung over a piece of furniture such as a console table, hang it to allow for items to be placed on the table. Overlapping is great. You can use painters tape to mark out the size you are considering. Or a large piece of cardboard helps (thanks Amazon!) in order to visually estimate your needs. If you get stuck, browse your favorite catalogs to see what looks attractive with different pieces of furniture.

TIP 3: Subject

Are you looking to make a statement, remember a personal story or simply add some color to your home? There are many reasons to purchase artwork and a variety is the best way to go. Hanging something in your home simply because you love it, is a great reason too. The colors do not have to match your decor, but they can. This is a great time to involve a family member. The more your walls tell the story of you (and your family) the more likely you are to love walking in the door.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your family:

  • Where is my happiest place to visit? Or favorite view?
  • What do I already have that I love? Consider more.
  • What colors do I repeat that feel like home?
  • What art do I like but assume could never work in my space? Hint: You might be wrong.

TIP 4: Construction

Well-constructed art is essential to have a lasting life in your home. Not everyone is a trained art critic, but most everyone has some inner gauge of critiquing why artwork is beautiful or inspiring to look at. We may not know exactly why we like something, but there is always a reason. It is important to notice if the art has a focal point or contrast that will keep your attention or lend enjoyment for years. Look for a feature or technique that you really appreciate about the work such as a brush stroke, color palette, realism, cleverness, etc. Not all paintings have every feature listed, but there should be something that pulls you in continually. Also important is whether the art is ready to hang. Many of us can get stuck on this part and have artwork leaning against a wall for months (or years!) Not all works on canvas need to be framed; that is often a personal preference. An artist should be able to offer you sources for framing or give you an estimate. Most prints or works on paper are sold in sizes that can be framed using products from home or craft stores. Additionally you can order custom mats online to fit frames.

Resources for shopping artwork:

  • Local and regional artists’s websites.
  • In-person art shows enable you to get to know the artist.
  • Online print shops offer a variety of sizes and styles.
  • Unique finds are available at local auction houses and online.

TIP 5: Commission

This last tip is a great avenue if you are stuck and just can’t find exactly what you are looking for. If you have a special view or place that you and your family enjoy, a commissioned piece of art would be a great idea. I love working this way! You choose size, color palette and subject. Two or more photos can even be combined to keep your memory alive. Please click on the Commissions link on my website to learn more.

Preparing for your new artwork:

Finally, if you are removing artwork or pictures that have become uninspiring to you or you’ve simply never liked, I challenge you to donate or make a space to store them for a year. Sometimes items just need to be rotated. If you have an heirloom piece, consider passing it on to a family member. No one who lives outside your home should require you to display specific art in your space! I hope you now have the tools to listen to your voice about what makes you visually inspired in your home.

All content was written and assembled by Elizabeth Wade Studio. The views contained in this article are informational and inspirational only. Do not reproduce this article without written permission. All photos are the rights of Elizabeth Wade Studio.

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