An Expert’s Guide to Curating Art for Your Home

Turn your blank walls into a museum-quality space with these smart tips.

Updated 09/03/19
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Design by Emily Henderson Design, Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Blank, boring walls never helped anyone make it to the design big leagues. It doesn’t matter what your design style is—yes, we’re even talking to minimalists—hanging a great piece of art can give your walls some personality without compromising your space’s vibe.

But more often than not, people put picking out the perfect photograph or print at the very bottom of their to do list, even though your artwork has the power to completely transform any room. 

“Art is a great way to express yourself and your interests, and the right piece can tell a story or bring energy into a space,” says Monty Preston, associate curator at Saatchi Art. “It should be of primary importance from the very beginning.”

If you want to kick your interior design game into high gear, it’s a good idea to rethink the pieces you hang in your space. Instead of considering art as an afterthought, channel your inner curator and get strategic about how you dress up your walls. 

To help, Preston is sharing her expert tips for curating art for your home.

1. Create a Vibe

Chances are, you spend hours on Pinterest finding inspiration for your interior design, so why should your art choices be any different? Since there are plenty of subjects and mediums to choose from, it’s important to figure out the mood you want your art collection to convey.

“Figuring out what mood you want a room to evoke will help you select works that embody the right energy,” recommends Preston. “Do you want to feel energized when you walk into that space? Relaxed? Inspired?”

If you want some art that will pop against crisp, white walls, opt for colorful abstract pieces. Looking for something that will blend in with your maximalist prints? Give a gallery wall of old-school prints a try. 

2. Start Off Small

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your art collection. Instead of haphazardly deciding which piece should hang right over your living room couch, it’s important to take baby steps to becoming an art aficionado. 

Look for artwork to brighten the smaller and often neglected spaces in your home,” Preston recommends. “Small artworks in unexpected spaces can have a major impact on transforming your space.” 

Not only does starting off small give you the opportunity to experiment with different styles, you’ll also finally learn what to do with all those awkward nooks and crannies in your place.

3. Take Things Slow

In addition to starting off small, it’s important that art rookies take curating their collections slow. You see, it can be hard to pump the breaks once you start sifting through dozens of standout pieces. But like decorating your space too quickly, buying all of your art in one fell swoop runs the risk of becoming a design mistake. 

“It can be overwhelming trying to select multiple artworks for several rooms,” she says. “Instead, start in one room and move outward to connecting areas.” 

Preston recommends finding that first piece of art for one specific room and creating a cohesive collection based off that one print or painting. 

4. Consider Costs

No, you don’t have to buy a limited-edition Picasso to pay a small fortune for art. Whether you get a piece commissioned by an up and coming artist or shop at one of our cool-girl approved sites, there’s no denying that art can be expensive. 

Before you start shopping, Preston recommends setting a separate budget for your art collection. Concerned you don’t have enough cash for a chic collection? Don’t worry, there are plenty of affordable options.

If you’re trying to save on costs, consider limited edition prints, which are an easy way to start your collection,” Preston says.

For inspiration, check out these surprisingly affordable pieces you can hang, stat. 

5. Go With Your Gut 

Like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder. But while there are plenty of rules you’re supposed to follow when finding a great piece, it’s important that your collection should reflect you and your style.

“When it comes to art, anything goes,” Preston says. “Don’t be afraid to mix styles and create clash. The right contrast can make a bold statement and spark conversation.”

Go ahead, dare to be bold by pairing multiple styles and displaying that peculiar painting you can’t stop thinking about. After all, an eclectic array of art is bound to be a serious conversation starter. And isn’t that what good art is all about? 

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