The Undeniable Importance of Art in Interior Design

A home’s interior design is defined by its details. Of course, the furniture, color, and layout of every room must be cohesive and logical, but the smaller, often-overlooked facets of design—including the selection of art—are what really make a home unique and vibrant. Considering the walls of your residence as mere frames and dividing lines can lead to missed opportunities. While not every wall needs to be a gallery showcase, a piece of art that brings out certain shades and colors can utterly transform rather than simply decorate a room.

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Including art in your home allows you to make each of its spaces your own. There is only so much a couch can say about you and your taste, but the paintings or sculptures you choose to display can make highly personal statements about how you perceive yourself and your place in the world. Many designers even recommend first choosing an art piece that resonates with you and then using the selected work as inspiration for a room’s colors and furnishings. This method can help inform a room’s color palette and, in some cases, its overall style. While a monochrome, minimalist painting would look a bit out of place in a room that is then given a vintage feel, it could finely punctuate one with a modern or sleek aesthetic. If you haven’t yet decided on a color scheme or look for a room, try choosing the art first, and see where your interests lead you.

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Choosing a piece of art that really reflects who you are and what you love takes a bit more work than simply finding something to match your armchairs, but the process will be as inspiring and engaging as the piece you eventually choose. Finding a work that captures the creative expression of another, defines you and your taste, and can tie a room together may seem daunting, but it’s always exciting. The key here is to not go overboard; be subtle, yet deliberate. Find something that speaks to you.

In terms of locating such an elusive piece, be sure to cast a wide net. Peruse galleries small and large, famed and obscure, and also check print shops, book stores, antique and luxury gift shops, and flea markets. The ideal pieces are often found in the oddest of places. When shopping, always keep on hand a few pictures, digital or print, of the room you’d like to accent. While you may think you have a perfect view of the space in your mind, even misremembering a few details can result in a selected piece of art not working as well as you had imagined.

Once you’ve chosen a work of art—or, perhaps, after it’s chosen you—you’ll have to decide exactly where it belongs. A room in which art is scattered about in no discernible order and adheres to no overall motif only seems to be full of expensive clutter. Only if a room is quite large should several pieces be featured; start with one as the singular focal point. While a work of art that provides a burst of color will be more likely to complement a more muted space, a subtle piece can benefit a brightly colored room, where it can serve as a welcome counterbalance.

And then there are those special, remarkably malleable pieces that can have a dramatic impact on any room in which they’re placed. The black and white photographs featured in the “It Boys & Girls” collection from famed photographer Terry O’Neill not only meld well with any style, but have the power to completely define a room because of their status as conversation pieces.

This stunning photo of Audrey Hepburn in Saint-Tropez is ideal for any space that could use a tip of the hat to France or classic cinema.

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This charming shot of Sinatra oozes a certain Big Apple grandeur. Each piece transports you to the time and place it reflects as the innate magnetism of the legendary star it depicts draws you in. There are many other pieces like these out there, but you have to get out and find them. Embrace the thrill of the search and transform your home in the process.