living with art

Should you build rooms around your art collection, or seek out artwork to complement your home? The best answer to this very personal question is either/or…both/and. Some art pieces speak to the soul in a profound way, while others are merely beautiful, and both have their place in a well-designed interior.

If you have a large art collection, you probably enjoy rotating pieces from time to time, storing the others while not in use. Clearly, it’s ideal for your interior to be designed in such a way that it can gracefully accommodate your more gallery-like approach to living with art.

If you have a dramatic niche in your home, or a wall with an unusual shape, it may be ideal to acquire a permanent piece for that specific location in order, to optimize the visual impact within the space.

Living with art, rather than merely co-existing with it, involves maintaining a conscious awareness of your relationship with individual pieces. Take a little tour through your home, and stop in front of each artful image or object, asking yourself, “Where did this come from? Why I do I have it? What does it mean to me?” Perhaps certain pieces were profound for you at the time you acquired them, but now your life has changed and they have lost their impact. Is the relationship over? Would be best to send them along to someone who can really enjoy them?

When acquiring new pieces for your home, keep in mind that it’s not only a question of whether you think a particular work of art is powerful – it’s also a question of whether you want to experience its energy on daily basis. Ask yourself, “How do I feel when I’m looking at this? Inspired? Happy? Angry? Amused? Nostalgic? Relaxed? Energized? Anxious? Lonely?”

In additional to content, proper placement is essential for bringing art to life in a space. Even the most spectacular work of art can be lost in a cramped, dark corner. Here are a few practical considerations for placing art artfully:

  1. Safety – Will the artwork will be exposed to sunlight or dampness for long periods of time? If so, is it made to withstand this type of onslaught?
  2. Proportion – Does the piece have a comfortable amount of space around it on all sides? Does it appear either too large, too small, or simply the wrong shape for the area where it is displayed?
  3. Color – Does the piece have a harmonious relationship to the overall color palette of the room? Are there any fabrics or accessories that pick up colors from the piece? Does the wall color complement the piece or detract from it?
  4. Lighting – Are you able to light the piece well at all times of day? Is glare a problem in broad daylight?
  5. Flow – Does the style and content of the piece flow easily with other features in the room, or does it seem out of place?

When an awkward tension exists between an art piece and the overall design of the room, it may work best to adjust the former, or it may be best to adjust the latter. Only you can decide, knowing that when artwork is well-framed and well-placed, it is able to shine fully in its primary role: to express and evoke emotion, allowing us to feel more fully alive.

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