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How to Select and Exhibit Art in Your Home

Displaying original works of art in your home offers inspiration, motivation and reflects who you are to your guests. A large blank wall can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Choosing art to display in your home should give you a sense of excitement and compliment your personal taste as well as the aesthetic goals for each room of your house.

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Art as Investment

Many people make the mistake of buying art that matches a particular chair pattern or dining room . If you are making an investment in the pieces you choose they will likely last longer than your love of the fabric on your couch. The art you choose to display in your home should inspire and motivate you when you see it. It should be a joy in your day; not something that simply fills the space between the wall and the fireplace or creates harmony between the recliner you can’t seem to get rid of and the vintage drapes you adore.

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Know What You Like

What is your style?  A good place to start is your own wardrobe; what colors dominate, do you like clean lines or texture; are you more traditional or avant garde? Ask your friends and family how they would define your style; it might surprise you!  Spend some time at a local museum, peruse local galleries, art fairs and antique stores to get a sense of what kind of art you are drawn to. Do you like losing yourself in a landscape, prefer to gaze at the rich colors or impasto of an abstract painting, or appreciate the realism of photography? Note the names of artists that inspire you.  Identifying your likes and dislikes in advance will help a gallery owner in gearing you towards artists which suite your style.

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Where to Exhibit

Consider each room carefully and decide what type of piece would compliment the room. Would a sculpture be appropriate, or is it a high traffic area? Would a landscape compliment or compete with the floor to ceiling windows?  How is the lighting?- mostly natural? Walk around your home and note the areas where a piece of art would work well. There should be plenty of space to view the work, especially if you plan to choose a large piece. Measure the space ahead of time so you can leave an adequate amount of room around the art work to really showcase it. Choose strategically – you don’t have to cover every blank wall! You want to highlight your investment don’t distract from it with too much visual chaos.

SIDEBAR: Remember to allow room for matting framing! When choosing frames and matting remember to choose colors that match the work of art – not the room you plan to display it. This will allow you flexibility to rotate the work to other rooms if you so desire later.  Museum white is always a safe option!

Making the Purchase

You’ve identified your style, you’ve chosen the room, completed all the measuring and you are ready to buy! It doesn’t hurt to bring photo of the room with you to the gallery. Ask the gallery owner for their professional opinion as well. Discuss your taste, what your aesthetic goals are for each room and your budget. If you are experiencing some anxiety about a particular piece or want to view the piece in the environment – many galleries will allow the buyer to live with a piece for a short time before they commit to the purchase. There are also programs available online where you can upload a photo of your space and digitally insert the work so you can get a sense of how it will look – giving you confidence in your purchase and avoiding any potential for buyer’s remorse!

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Ready to Hang

If you aren’t feeling too confident in your abilities with a hammer, there are plenty of services that will come to your home and curate your walls for you. Often places where you purchased the work will have these types of resources. Another option is to use kraft paper cut to the size of the work you plan to hang. Play around with the placement of the paper first and then make tick marks with a pencil. Remember to adjust for the slack in the hanging wire and always use a level!


Choosing to display original artwork in your home enhances the space while also providing guests with a little personal insight into the homeowner. Remember, at the end of the day, the artwork is for you so choose work that inspires and delights you and display your favorites!

P: (216) 831-7370    F: (216) 360-4485  AdamKaufman@HowardHanna.com