In this guide, we’ll discuss art and paintings used in home decor and how to elevate the style of your residence with artwork.
History of Art in Homes
Since the dawn of man, our homes have been influenced by and adorned with art. From the first cave paintings and etchings to the elegance of ancient Rome and Egypt’s display of wealth, humans have always found a way to express themselves through art. Each era has produced distinct influences on how art shaped our world and homes.
However, there are no rules when it comes to art, and although most of us cannot afford an original Rembrandt, there are many variations of prints we can acquire to show our tastes. Even on small budgets, we can obtain original works of art from local artists and those we know personally who enjoy painting, sculpting or drawing.
The Purpose of Art
Art is a method of self-expression and sometimes a measure of wealth and means. Royal families and heads of state feature significantly important works of art in their homes, castles, and public estates as a way of displaying their taste and position in the world.
For the average person, art is a way to showcase your interests and tastes in an enjoyable way in your home. Art fills blank spaces, adds color, acts as a conversation starter, or reminds you of someone or something. Since most artwork is purely decorative, it will make a bolder statement about your style than most things in your home and therefore should be carefully chosen.
For many, buying “art” might be dismissed as something for just the well-to-do, but with art schools, online portals, and collectives, it is absolutely possible to bring art into your home no matter what your budget. In fact, this guide is primarily for men looking to decorate their homes themselves without 5+ figure budgets and swanky galleries.
How to Start Choosing Art
- Begin by considering your budget. Money is often the primary constraint and it’s best to set your budget before you begin looking.
- Invest or enjoy? Decide how you want to spend your money. Would you like to buy just what you like, or do you want something you could sell again in the future?
- Decide how you want to decorate. Decorating can mean different things to different people. Some prefer to decorate a home all at once, a single room at once, and others enjoy collecting over time. Decide what you prefer before beginning.
- Original or reproduction? Decide what kind of art suits your taste. Do you prefer one of a kind works, small batch reproductions, or basic prints?
- Frames, no frames? While the art in your home can come in a variety of formats, it’s best to decide if you want to frame art, as a custom frame can add $200-$1000 or even more to a typical painting. Factor the end result into your budget so you don’t overspend on the art itself.
- One theme/style or none? Decide how coordinated you’d like your art to be. Do you want a certain color palette, medium, subject or size?
- Mix in current pieces or start fresh? If you have art already in your home, decide if you want to begin fresh or work around those pieces. For men who like a theme, discard art that doesn’t fit it and keep those that do before adding new pieces.
- Size and quantity – do you want fewer larger pieces or more small items?
- Consider how your home affects your vision. If you want a very traditional look but live in a modern loft, art purchases may not achieve the overall look you want. Consider the style, layout, and current decor of your home to see if you need to make other changes to get the look you want. Changing paint, tile, lighting and other finishes can dramatically alter the space you want to work with to suit art pieces.
- Consult a trusted source. Want to decorate your home, but aren’t sure how to go about it? Begin by asking a friend whose taste you admire or go a step further and hire an interior designer.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when decorating your home. These questions may be hard to answer, and if they are, use decorating or home publications, other homes or museums to look for inspiration.
Finally, don’t think of art as being permanent! You can always buy, sell, trade and rearrange art pieces in your home as you come across new things or your tastes change.
Types of Art to Consider
There are many forms of art, and only you can decide what art you want in your home. The only hard and fast rule should be that you like it! At the Gentleman’s Gazette, our style is often oriented around classic or “traditional” decorating, which can cover a wide range of color palettes and tastes. Consider the following themes:
Butterfly or other shadowbox displays
Classic menswear prints
Objets d’art, or small collectible objects that aren’t hung on a wall
Art By Rooms
Living areas in your home are typically going to consist of your finest artwork that you take the most pride in owning.
Sitting and Parlour Rooms
For larger sitting rooms and parlour rooms, consider large oil paintings, dramatic works and bold pieces that act as focal points in the room and can be used as topics of conversation. They should be interesting and unique.
Small sculptures, textiles, and carvings are also great ways to showcase your flair for art. Make sure the pieces in your sitting areas are personal and meaningful to you. The best art always has a story behind it.
The Library or Den
The library and den are areas where many people choose to place more tumultuous and intimidating artwork. If you enjoy darker pieces like art from Francisco Goya’s black period, the library or den is an ideal place to feature it. The art can be uncomfortable to look at and should hopefully make people think about what the artist was trying to convey when creating it. The sitting rooms are places to communicate so the focus should be on the people and not the art. However, in places like the den and library which can act as a fortress of solitude for contemplation, having controversial or unique art is acceptable so long as it’s not offensive to any guests that may see it. This is also an ideal spot for busts, stone sculptures, taxidermy and family heirlooms you wish to display.
The office is your personal domain where you conduct business in the home. Focusing on personal pieces is ideal in a place like the home office, although it should remain appropriate for anyone who attends a meeting in your home. A standard rule of thumb is to focus on pieces you’re comfortable with your boss seeing (if you have one.) Therefore, nude busts, boudoir photography and other sensitive art forms are probably best left for a more private domain like your bedroom.
From oil paintings of fruit to infographics and posters of various hot peppers, there are no limits for the kitchen. This is also an ideal place to put a focal piece of art if you have a blank wall near an eating area. Consider textural components such as accent pieces to give the kitchen a more cozy and comfortable appeal. Unique kitchen items such as colourful cutting boards can also add some artistic personality to the kitchen.
Rec Room and Theater
The rec room and theater are perfect places for more casual art. Classic movie posters, vintage magazine covers like these ones from Fort Belvedere, and even items such as classic car grilles can act as hanging art on a wall. One idea is to pick a theme and go with it. Other ideas are a family photo wall that can be updated as your family grows.
The bedroom is your private domain, so your most passion-driven art belongs here. The key is to make sure it’s not wildly inappropriate if a guest or child comes in. Statues of busts are acceptable as are silhouettes and boudoir photography of your spouse if they aren’t pornographic and remain tasteful. You can also use oversized art to add depth to the room and ornate mirrors to give a smaller bedroom a larger feel. The bedroom is also a place where inspirational art is ideal since you’ll go to sleep looking at it and wake up inspired by it.
Art in the washroom is a tougher call. Often this is a good place to put art you’ve received as a gift that you don’t want to hang in a main living space. It also works well for showcasing your own art or local art found at various markets and stores. You can also use small accent pieces, ceramic soap dishes and candle holders or mirrors as art.
Frames shouldn’t overshadow the art, but should help to showcase it. Frames are like a pedestal.
Where to Buy
There are so many places to find art. Here are some of our favourites:
- Local art schools
- Auction websites like eBay, Craigslist, and Etsy
- art.com for prints
- Flea markets and vintage stores
- Direct from local artists
- From original art websites such as artfinder.com or zatista.com
Do’s and Don’ts of Hanging Art
Here are a few standard rules for hanging art:
- Do think carefully before hanging art to determine the best room and place for it.
- Do have it framed professionally.
- Do use different frames but ensure they work harmoniously.
- Do measure twice before hanging the art to ensure it’s hung in the right spot.
- Don’t hang art on a whim or in a rush.
- Don’t hang art that isn’t framed properly.
- Don’t buy art on a whim unless you’re sure it will work in the room.
- Don’t buy art just because it’s a good deal. Focus on pieces you can be proud of.
- Don’t clutter your room with random art. Be strategic with how you place it.
Art is the most personal part of any home, and the right piece of art can really elevate the decor. Do you have a favorite piece of art in your home or a piece you would love to have?