How to decorate with art in your home

Don't just buy it, celebrate it!
kitchen with dining table and upholstered bench seatPhotography: Jacqui Turk / Styling: Alanna Smit

Hanging art in your home can provide the decorating boost it needs to elevate the look and feel of your spaces from inhabited to stylish and lived-in.

Heritage home hallway with artwork and mirror
A large artwork framed in white hugs the wall to make a welcoming statement in this heritage hallway. (Credit: Photography: Ess Creative / Styling: Samantha Torrisi )

Feature artwork can help inspire certain moods, so it’s a great way to really give a space the feel you want. Artwork really helps capture the essence of a room, so making sure the piece you pick harmonises with your decorating style will make sure your finished room really is exactly what you envisioned.

Choosing art can be difficult however and there’s lots to consider. We spoke to some experts to find out how to choose art to decorate your home and how to make the most of it once you bring it into a room.

Lara Scolari artwork in living room
(Credit: Image courtesy of Lara Scolari)

1. Consider the size of your room

“One of the best ways to do this is to take cues from the very space itself,” says leading contemporary visual artist Lara Scolari. “No matter what type of space you have, the first thing to consider is the dimensions of the space you’re wanting to fill,” she says.

“Get some tape, or even some blue tack, to roughly mark out the dimensions of what you believe is the perfect sized artwork for the space – then measure it. Take a photo of the space and your surrounding decor and then take both the image and the measurements with you to the gallery.”

“When using artwork to make a bold statement, consider the scale and size of furniture and accessories,” says stylist Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors. “Lots of incidental small pieces may clutter the overall look, whereas bold shapes will enhance it.” 

kitchen and dining room with indigenous art
Choose art to echo the scale and tone of the space in which it will hang. (Credit: Photography: Jacqui Turk / Styling: Alanna Smit)

2. Work with the decorating style of the room 

Whilst an artwork is effective in making a statement, it’s important to keep within the decorating style of other elements in your room. This can work both ways – you may have a much-loved piece that will form the basis of the entire room design – consider the style, colour and texture of the piece and build from there.

For example, “If the room you’re decorating has lots of exposed timber, you want to consider carefully what you frame any artwork in,” suggests Lara. “You should think about finish as well as colour.

Colourful upholstered sofa with complimentary artwork
(Credit: Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

3. White isn’t always right

“Most people think that bold colours ‘pop’ against white backdrops, and whilst this is true to an extent, let it not be forgotten that they often ‘pop’ even more against darker colours,” says Julia Green. “A wall colour with depth is a match made in heaven for bold hues.

Lara agrees. “Bear in mind that you might want to re-paint the colour of the wall where the artwork will hang to make the artwork pop, and to further incorporate your art into the space.”

4. Add a sense of luxury with your art

“Luxe rooms normally utilise bold hues, precious metals, reflective surfaces, exotic timbers, velvet, ornamentation, and silk or patterned fabrics,” says Lara.

Are you getting the most out of art in your home?
(Credit: Styling by Sara Huckett for Greenhouse Interiors | Photography by Armelle Habib)

“With daring colour palettes, a luxe space usually demands a rush of colour and vitality.”

Lara Scolari, Artist

5. Create a feature wall for your art

“Feature walls can be painted in a rich bold hue and display a large scale dynamic abstract artwork that complements the energy and style of the room,” Lara suggests adding, “In rooms of this style, I would always recommend framing the artwork.”

“To enhance the look and feel of bold artwork, look to pick up cues from the chosen piece to inform the space,” Julia suggests. “For instance, repeat the use of a bold colour in accessories or furniture items to enhance the overall palette.”

6. Include art in coastal interior decorating style

“Though there are different varieties of the coastal style, they all share a love of ocean hues, sun-bleached white, natural materials, found objects, raw fabrics and a celebration of natural light,” says Lara.

“A coastal room enjoys a subtler artwork or one that complements and reflects the rhythmic energy and marine colour palette. A large-scale abstract artwork with texture, movement and ocean hues, as well as the drone/satellite photography of the coast, gives interest and engagement within the space, without being too literal.”

Coastal bedroom with ocean artwork
Art imitates life in this coastal bedroom. (Credit: Louise Roche)

7. Gather your collected pieces together

“If you’ve chosen a more eclectic style for your interior, you have greater scope to collect pieces of interest from your life and travels and display them together,” says Lara. “Artworks within the eclectic space can once again become a collection – but best to keep a common theme. This is also a great opportunity to hang your art in a gallery-style arrangement. You can almost get away with anything, so really feel free to go for it.” 

Bedroom with gallery style artworks

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