Guide in Buying Art for Your Home

So, you’re sick and tired of staring at blank walls.

Collecting artwork is a great way to add color, texture, and personality to your home. However, the process can be intimidating.

Jan Bertin, owner of residential design service Bertin’s Decorating Den, and Lauren Bishop, a Realtor with McEnearney Associates, are familiar with the art-buying process and have been in and out of enough homes to know what works and what doesn’t.

We talked with them to gather some tips for how those new to the art-buying process can make a masterpiece of their homes.

Know Where to Look

In addition to staging countless homes for the market, Bishop has decorated her own home with eye-catching local art. Bishop came across many of the pieces in her impressive local art collection by spending time at Alexandria’s local galleries and art events.

Annual festivals like Art on the Avenue and the King Street Art Festival offer wonderful opportunities to not only view artists’ work but also chat with the artists themselves.

“The art festivals are a good place to start because, if you find things that speak to you, you can typically get them. They’re not quite as expensive as work at finer galleries,” Bishop said.

Commissions can be a great option if you have had difficulty finding a piece that matches the ideal size you need, or the vision you have in mind. The conditions of the commission will vary based on the artist and the services they offer.

“Sometimes you need a perfect size and you can look and look and just can’t find it. Or sometimes you need a perfect feel because you want to complement art that you already have,” Bertin said. “And that’s the best time to think about commissioning a piece because then you get exactly what you want.”

In addition, Bishop enjoys visiting antique stores to look for artwork and exploring social media options like Instagram and Etsy.

“There’s a lot of artists you can find through Instagram or Etsy that will do really cool commissions,” Bishop said.

If the thought of commissioning work is daunting, local galleries like Broadway Gallery and Principle Gallery are experienced in connecting artists to buyers.

“They will work with you to find pieces that are really going to enhance the space,” Bertin said.

Enhance the Space

There’s a general rule of thumb that a well-decorated room in a home should feel balanced. However, it really depends on what you want for your space.

“Sometimes the balance is not the ultimate goal. But I think an even distribution of visual weight should be what you shoot for,” Bertin said.

So, how does one create an even distribution of visual weight?

“If there’s a large horizontal over the fireplace, and it’s sixty inches wide, then you’re going to want on the opposite wall – say over a sofa – two verticals that may approximate 50 to 60 inches in width,” Bertin said.

Mixing up the sizes and shapes of your pieces will create a more dynamic field of vision, and you’ll probably love the art in your home for longer.

It’s also important to pay attention to the height at which you hang your artwork. According to Bishop, many people hang their artwork too high. In general, art should be hung at eye-level or about 60 inches from the floor.

Go for Big Pieces

Both Bishop and Bertin agree that when it comes to buying art for your home, it’s a good idea to think big.

A large piece of artwork can pull a room together better than a smaller one, and a large piece can make space feel less cluttered and more balanced.

“Bigger is better,” Bishop said. “I think it’s nicer to have fewer larger pieces than a lot of little things.”

Bertin agreed. “Larger pieces have more impact, make much more of a statement and don’t look cluttered,” she said. Unfortunately, larger works of art will almost always cost more than smaller pieces.

Not every blank wall needs to be adorned with a massive canvas. Bertin recommends choosing a large mirror instead of a painting when decorating an entryway and spending money on decorative tiles rather than artwork for a bathroom. After all, art is not limited to images that can hang on a wall.

If you’re more attracted to the idea of grouping smaller pieces together, Bertin advises proceeding with caution.

“If you’re going to use groups of things, the group likes together,” Bertin said. “Don’t try to pull off a combination of different types of images without some help. That’s a tricky thing to pull off.”

For example, if you want to decorate a space with work by a particular photographer, it is recommended that you choose images from the same collection, rather than a random assortment.

Trust Your Taste

If you’re not well-versed in the art world, it can be tempting to doubt your reactions when browsing for artwork. But your home isn’t a museum, and it’s okay to pick out pieces just because you enjoy them.

“People probably think my artwork collection is strange because I have so many things that I like, but I kind of think that’s what makes a house a home,” Bishop said. “It doesn’t all have to match or be in the same genre.”

If you’re planning on making a significant purchase, though, it’s a good idea to wait for a little to make sure the infatuation lasts. One of Bishop’s larger pieces is an abstract painting by Washington, D.C.-based artist David Bell which adds as a pop of color to a mostly white living room.

“I think I went back to look at it six times before I actually purchased it. And every time I went, I still loved it,” Bishop said.

At the end of the day, how you decorate your home is up to you. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut, move things around, and take risks. What matters most is that you enjoy your space.

After all, you’re the one who is going to be living in it.


Blog Source: Alexandria Living | A Blank Canvas: How to Buy Art for Your Home


I’m Joseph, and I started this blog as a way to share ideas with others. I wanted to create a space where people could share their thoughts and feelings, and where we could all have a good laugh. Since then, the blog has grown into something much larger than I ever imagined. We have posts on everything from humorous essays to comics to interviews. And our weekly columns cover sports, video games, college life, and software.
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