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Should your Art Coordinate with your Home?

By 03/02/2010January 16th, 202038 Comments

Designers seem to be split on this question.

Some say, NEVER. If you buy art to coordinate with the room it becomes decor and interior decoration!

Others argue that coordinating artwork can make or break a space. . .

House Beautiful

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38 Comments

  • Avatar Christine B. says:

    Here's two cents from my amateur self: if your walls are painted a color other than white, beware with large pieces of art. I have a modest collection of art, mostly small pieces, and with those, I don't seem to mind that they don't "match." But my larger painting (a 3'x 4') which I purchased because I loved it (and not because it would coordinate with my furnishings), looks quite wretched against my celadon-walled dining room. I've decided there is a reason art galleries have white walls….

    Christine in Alaska

  • Avatar ashlina says:

    yes it should. at least in some way. i love art in a home, sometimes the art is what MAKES the home. doesnt have to be too matchy matchy, but definitely fit the vibe……

  • Avatar kerrisdaledesign says:

    hmmm, a great thought provoking question Maria!

    Perhaps it's an issue of the chicken and the egg? Choosing a painting to coordinate with your room being a no no, while using your favourite painting as the jumping off point or inspiration for a room is ok? Personally I don't like art to "match" the room per se, but in a room that is very much "decorated" ie. a very distinct colour palette on walls, patterns/colours on fabrics etc. etc. these factors cannot be ignored when selecting art to complement the room.

    This topic also relates to the art buying process….at my store I always advised clients to purchase art that speaks to them, not solely to match their sofa or whatever….but on the other hand you need to consider the room when deciding whether that painting you love will work.

    Not a very definitive answer, but perhaps this is one of those instances where "It Depends" is the only correct response 🙂

    Karla
    blog.kerrisdaledesign.com

  • Avatar Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury says:

    I'm going to agree with Karla and say "it depends". On what each individual sees as "art". On whether it speaks to you in some way so that you don't care whether it "matches" your sofa. Art should look like it belongs to the room so it doesn't stand out too much (in a bad way) or blend so much so that it's not even noticed. Right now, I'm looking for something abstract and "modern-ish" to put into my colorful, cottagey surroundings. Just to throw things off a bit. Might even try my hand at creating something myself. Would leftover paint from my garage on a $40 canvas be considered "art" in this conversation?

  • Avatar Vanessa says:

    Ditto what Karla said. Couldn't have said it better!

  • Avatar Kristin says:

    I do love a painting that is completely juxtaposed in a decorated room though…

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    From a non-professional: I have a very difficult time picking out art for a room. First, it has to look good in the room. To me that means it has to pick up the main color in the room and the style has to go with the rest of the room. That knocks the selection down to about 10-20%.

    Second, I have to like it and it can't be depressing – no unhappy people in it. I also like really large art (more than 3ft). That knocks it down to less than 1%. Plus I have to be able to afford it.

    In the early 2000's, I started with the brown decor; got a brown leather sofa, black accents, etc. I picked out some pictures with brown in them. Then I suddenly realized I was creating a very dark room that was kind of bland. So I just stopped there.

    Later I moved to another apartment and painted my walls a beautiful light blue before I moved in. When I went to find some art, there was NOTHING. I could not even find anything to frame. So I gave up. I never did have anything on my sofa wall.

    In the next place, I will buy the art first.

  • Avatar hello gorgeous says:

    I've always been fond of the quote, "Great art doesn't match your sofa."

  • Avatar Ivy Lane says:

    I think people should buy art because they love it..not because it will "go" with their decor…

  • Avatar AB HOME Interiors says:

    I signed up! Do I get a free jelly donut? Or a beer? Id prefer a martini! Absolutely no matching, COORDINATE only!

  • Avatar Melissa Rakowski says:

    As a designer, I always recommend that a client educate themselves on different artist and mediums. I encourage them to work with an art specialist for big purchases. I do not believe that art should match a space for many reasons. Art should stand on its own, it is an investment and you never know how long a person will stay in that home. Art will travel with them.

  • Avatar Susan says:

    Personally I like art to make a statement yet in some way I feel it has to complement the room.

    Art is just such a personal thing for people… it's all in the eye of the beholder.

    A great piece of artwork can make a room one to remember. Your image illustrates that beautifully.

    Susan

  • Avatar Marlo says:

    I want to love the art but have it work in the room.

    If I fell in love with a painting of a little cottage surrounded by trees, grass & flowers and put it in a sleek, contemporary room where none of the colours relate, I don't think I would like it.
    I think the styles have to work together.

  • Avatar Porchlight Interiors says:

    It should always serve the purpose of complementing a room I think

  • Avatar Karena says:

    I have always believed that you choose a work of art you love, and build the room about it. It is probably going to be the most focal, eye level piece in the room! You can always change the decor with the same work of art. It should be important and an original! After you add to your art collection, then rotate it, maybe from one room to another….

    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • Avatar traci zeller designs says:

    I agree with Karla – although my philosophy is always that, if you buy things you really, truly love, they will all go together! And one should never buy art that you don't really love … I'd rather have bare walls until I find what I do love. I'm excited to read your take on it.

  • Avatar Ele says:

    I think I'll be the first to answer "never". Well, maybe that's a bit extreme- but it's not something I would ever think of or strive for. I grew up in a family of art lovers and pieces were always chosen because my parents loved them, not because they went well in this or that room. We did however, spend time thinking of where to hang things to best show them off.

    I also agree with Traci. When you have a defined personal style, it's hard for things not to "go". I might not match purposely, but in my home it's easy to see why someone who chose THAT painting would also choose THAT couch, you know?

    Another issue this brings to mind is framing! Do you frame something to complement your space (ie, everthing in this room has a black brushed metal frame) or to complement the colours in the art? Everyone I know seems to have some opinion on this!

  • Avatar "Yeah, that works..!" says:

    Chances are if someone is drawn to a certain piece of art, it will naturally fit in with the overall sense of the home's interior decor. Also – I think framing has a lot to do with tying(sp?) into what is going on in the rest of the room as well as the other art that is already around. A bunch of mismatched frames or a frame that does not blend in with the room jumps out at me way more than a painting that doesn't exactly match the colors of the room.
    ps Thanks for your visits to my blog!

  • Avatar Mary-Frances Cimo says:

    Oddly enough, I find that people are drawn to art because of the colors in it. I have rarely seen a painting in a client's home that was comprised primarily of colors they don't like. Back to my old adage, "When it comes to colors, we like what we like."

    When I do art placement, there are home where I like to choose a color for that wall to make the art look it's best.

    Personally, I can't place art that works against the room. I find another place for it.

    It's a an age-old question. Thanks for throwing it out there, Maria!

    Mary-Frances Cimo
    Color Designer

  • Avatar suzros says:

    I bought a large piece of art that I fell in love with for my kitchen breakfast area but it looked terrible on my robins-egg blue walls. I repainted the kitchen to complement the painting. It is now a dramatic element that truly enhances the space. I would never say never but in this case, it was a must.

  • Avatar diane says:

    Usually if you buy art because you love it it is going to already incorporate the colors you have decorated your home with and any patterns you like i.e.floral, landscape, geometric etc. Therefore, you are most likely going to find the perfect spot in your home for your artwork even though you did not buy it to coordinate. all that being said, buy it because you love it and for no other reason.

  • Avatar Twenty Two Flamboyant Street says:

    I do think that the colours in the room could enhance the art and the art could enhance the room. So, yes, I do believe that the space and the art should work together to create a cohesive whole. In some spaces we want the art to rule and create a focal point but in other spaces the art blends with the room and becomes part of the texture and character of the room. Great question 🙂

  • Avatar camdesign says:

    the words "it depends" works for sure… I think the best answer is your heart should skip a beat when you look at the art you purchase for your room…then you will love it for a long time and it should work in the room

  • Avatar Emily A. Clark says:

    So glad to know you have a newsletter. Will sign up now 🙂

  • Avatar Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    Sure it should match but a piece of art that is loved even if it doesn't go with the decor at all should work: great art should be able to stand alone. But then . . . two completely apposing styles wouldn't look that great either. A huge messy modern art painting would look silly in a very traditionally old fashioned decorated room. I don't know. I can't make up my mind. I'm going to go read your newsletter.

  • Avatar Emom says:

    Art is considered an investment, why would I want to de-value my investment by not giving it the very best showing…..?

  • Avatar Ideezine says:

    Maria,

    Great topic and as we read women are very passionate about their space and great art. Men are passionate about the value art brings into a space. As a interior designer I also grew passionate about art and art history and after I received my degrees I worked through and took three years of art and photography framing and frame making from scratch. Art display, restoration, and curating art teach us that just like the elements in a room the frame of the art piece are just as vital to rooms and spaces.

    I art shop with my clients and it's a deep passion as is the space it inhabits. In my experience, art is first on the list to shape the room depending on what the space is being used for.

    Art shapes minds, tempers anger, and heals souls, it's a silent presence in a room that hears all and reveals nothing. It is fought over and handed down and still remains priceless in our lives.

    So in my experience, art balances spaces and must be included as early in the project plan as possible. But the framing is the equalizer/transformer and enables art to work in many unusual situations. Art makes sense and the more we learn about it's impact the better we can design and partner with it.

    Bette

  • Avatar Things That Inspire says:

    I love art, but I often tend to love the colors in a painting more than the style. I would like a solid color canvas if it is blue-green!

    Given this, I tend to like the same colors in art as the colors that I like to decorate with – so it doesn't bother me in the slightest if the art matches the sofa. In fact, some of my favorite rooms used a piece of art as the starting point. Suzanne Kasler's family room from her old house is case in point. She has a beautiful Dusty Griffith painting, and this became the inspiration for the color scheme of the room.

  • Avatar Annie Wilcox Designs says:

    I love all of the comments, how thoughtful they all are. I am sure there is no clear answer. When working with client on color, in my limited client base I have often asked them if they have a piece of art that inspires them. It may inspire a color palette or may simply be something to bridge their style. Contemporary, Modern, Vintage, Eclectic,what have you. In many cases the answer was no and we would go with more neutral colors so that if they did find that wonderful piece they would have a safety net. Not sure whether that is the right approach but in my actual life I have done both. I have painted walls Tiffany blue around a large painting and I have also gone cream for that same large painting. No more rambling…my two cents. Thanks for this.

  • Avatar Naomi says:

    I think you should absolutely take art into consideration when decorating a room. Then again, most of my favorite rooms seem to feature great art- whether one feature piece, or a compilation.
    I think this is why so many of us gravitate towards white walls- so much easier to mix and match with. Not better, just easier.

  • Avatar Color and Style says:

    Great topic Maria – I think the quality of the art work is important. I don't think anything should match but it all needs to be cohesive and pleasing. If you love your art collection than it is a reflection of your style and so is your home.
    The placement of the art, and the framing, like all the other elements in the room, such as choosing the right colors and furniture pieces is key to a successful installation. And like anything else if you have no experience in buying art hire a professional to help you.
    Firoozeh

  • Avatar Awesome Sara says:

    NO!!! maybe im just a hippie but art should inspire and actually mean something. i dunno maybe bc ive seen way to many room completely decked top to bottom around 1 piece of art. if u take the aert outta the room the room falls apart or if u bring in another piece of accessory into the room that isnt an exact shade to the art u an spot it instantly.

  • Avatar Cristin says:

    Great article! My 2 cents –
    I agree, that interior designs that flow have artwork that at least coordinate with the room's decor or color scheme. I try not to be too matchy matchy in my designs, but that artwork does need to complement the interior design.

    xo,
    cristin

  • Avatar LaurenFaythe says:

    Once in a while I get a chance to help my local clients decide which of my paintings would look best in their home. I have had to discourage them from purchasing certain paintings because I knew that the room would clash with the painting, and vice versa. It would be wonderful if art were chosen first, and the room decorated around it, but most of the time this is not the case. When I know that redecoration is not in the near future, I encourage clients to choose a painting that will make the room and the painting sparkle. This is especially true if the art is big, if it is small, it's not a big deal. After all, I don't want my clients to look at my art and feel buyer's remorse.

  • Avatar squeebury says:

    Ah- this one's easy!
    No, your art should not coordinate with your home.
    Your home should coordinate with your art.

    Art says a lot more about people than their sofas and paint colors ever could, so I say start with the art and the rest should go from there.

  • Avatar Maria Killam says:

    Dear Squee,
    Your answer is the best one yet!!!! OMG I love that, Your home should coordinate with your art!! Thank you for contributing that here!! It'll be my new mantra!
    Maria

  • Avatar Carole Buschmann says:

    I began collecting art work before I began living in an apartment or home. Then for the first 15 years of my adult life we moved every 3 years. I also have amassed a larger collection than I have walls to display. Hence, I change my walls frequently. Having worked in a few museums I know that art work has different conversations with the different objects and paintings next to which they reside. I change out my rooms, walls and halls every 3 to 4 months. I think it makes for a more interesting living space and I am often discovering new things about each individual work of art.

  • Avatar Lazy Gardens says:

    Definitely Squee has the right idea.

    If it's really ART, it's worth making the room work with the art. Otherwise it's just an accessory.

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