Living room and main floor after photo. Two yellow accent chairs have been moved to separate the dining space from the living space and allow the light tiled fireplace to become the focal point of the room. The chrome lamp was moved and additional softer lamps enlighten this previously dark room. A sofa table doubles as an entry table for keys and a place to put drinks when watching tv.

Though not everyone is a painter or artisan, everyone has a unique appreciation of beauty in the world. Art has a remarkable ability to breathe life into a space, reflecting our personalities and evoking emotions. The appreciation of beautiful things is a deeply human and hygge experience.

Art can complete a room or make it feel unfinished. That’s why it’s essential to take your time and consider your preferences, how you want to feel, and the elements of the room where the piece will live.

Let’s explore the art of selecting the perfect original piece, considering scale, colour psychology, art styles, and methods to train your art eye before making that big purchase!

1. Finding the Right Scale

Scale, scale, scale. We can’t stress this enough. Scale is the top design challenge we see homeowners experience. Read more about this in our 5-minute design fundamentals crash course.

A well-proportioned piece can enhance the overall balance and harmony of the space. Conversely, a disproportionate piece or odd grouping will create a choppy and unfinished look. When you spend time curating your collection, you will be dismayed to realize that the scale will not work in your room without some strategic placement.

A woman hangs an art piece on a wall with a collection of other works.

To determine the ideal scale, follow these steps:

Measure your walls

Start by measuring the height and width of the wall where you intend to hang the artwork.

Scale proportionally

As a general guideline, aim for the artwork to occupy 2/3 to 3/4 of the available wall space. This allows for a visually pleasing composition without overwhelming the room. Here are some other guidelines for using scale appropriately.

Consider furniture placement

Consider the furniture in the room. Artwork should typically be hung with the centre at eye level (60-66″ above the finished floor) and relate to the furniture’s scale. For example, a large statement piece works well above a sofa, while smaller works can be grouped on a smaller wall over a side table.

Factor in Combinations of Art in a Space.

Factor in how varying sizes and combinations of pieces throughout a space will alter the feel of a space. A series of carefully curated large-scale works on a main floor can create a gallery feel, whereas a combination of medium and smaller works can create a focal point that is more human in scale and will grab and hold attention in a different way. Smaller items can work well with repetition and strategy.

2. Exploring Colour Psychology

Colours play a crucial role in setting the mood and atmosphere of a room. Each colour has unique psychological associations that can impact the emotions evoked. Please keep in mind that colour psychology dramatically depends on where you live. Each country and region has slightly different associations with colours.  

The top view of a bunch of open paint cans in multiple colours with red at the centre and green, blue, yellow, orange and purple surrounding it.

Here are some common colours and their emotional effects in North America:

Blue: Calming, serene, and peaceful. Ideal for bedrooms or spaces where relaxation is key.

Red: Energetic, passionate, and bold. It can add vibrancy and drama to a room. Red is not ideal for bedrooms or spaces where calm is the goal.

Yellow/ Orange: Bright, cheerful, and uplifting. Perfect for spaces where creativity and positivity are encouraged.

Green: Refreshing, harmonious, and soothing. It represents nature and creates a sense of balance and tranquillity.

Neutral tones: Versatile and timeless, neutral colours like beige, grey, and white provide a calm, quiet backdrop.

What do these colours mean to you? Consider this when you enter a space where these colours are the predominant theme. Pay attention to your body’s reaction. Does it match the above, or is it different? Listen to your body and use the appropriate colours in your home to reflect how you want to feel. Some people find red relaxing, whereas others find it invigorating. You must decide what these colours mean to you.

3. Understanding Art Styles

Art comes in various styles and mediums, each with distinct characteristics and appeal. You don’t need to be an expert or historian. No one expects you to give a lecture on the use of colour and the style of brush strokes Van Gogh used in Starry Night. You merely need to gain a general idea of what is available and what genres speak to you.

Two women look at art in a gallery. The art is abstract, graphical, and multicoloured with projecting cube and rectangular shapes.

Here’s a brief overview of some popular styles and genres:

Modern

Sleek, minimalist, and often abstract, modern art embraces experimentation and unconventional techniques. It leaves a lot for the viewer to draw whatever emotion they desire from it and often leads to discussions about what the artist intended. It can be in any medium.

Traditional

Traditional art depicts realistic scenes, landscapes, and portraits. It is often completed using canvas and paint rather than unconventional materials and techniques.

Realism

Focused on capturing detailed and accurate representations of subjects, realism aims to depict the world as it is.

Abstract

Non-representational and subjective, abstract art uses shapes, colours, and forms to convey emotions and ideas, allowing for individual interpretation.

Here’s actor Steve Martin chatting about two of his favourite pieces and how they speak to him:

Graphical/ Graffiti/ Murals

These art styles may be found on the sides of buildings, magazines, or product packaging, but they also find their place in many people’s homes. They can include block letters, social or political commentary and bold colours.

4. Train Your Art Eye

Finding an art style that resonates with you is a deeply personal journey. Though we will offer you some tips here, it’s vital that you listen to your gut instincts on what speaks to you.

A rectangular paint palette with two palette knives sit on a wooden surface. Two old glass jars filled with dirty paint brushes sit beside it.

Here are some ways to identify your artistic preferences:

Visit Galleries and Museums

Immerse yourself in the art world by visiting exhibitions, galleries, and museums. Observe different styles and pay attention to the ones that catch your eye or evoke an emotional response. Visit multiple times if necessary, and pay attention to how the piece makes you feel.

There are many art museums & galleries in Calgary to visit.

Online Research

There are incredible resources online. We’ve linked a few throughout this blog. Explore online galleries, follow artists on social media, and read articles to broaden your knowledge and exposure to different art styles.

A word of warning for online browsing: Physically standing in the presence of the work will likely evoke a different feeling than seeing it on the screen. When you find something that piques your interest, try to find a location that has the artwork on display. 

Experimentation

Be bold and experiment with various art styles and mediums. You may not feel like an artist, but practice might deepen your appreciation for a specific art style. Attend workshops or try your hand at creating your own art. You may notice that your art practice keeps bringing you to a particular brush stroke or shape. Or you might feel drawn to the feeling of clay between your fingers but don’t necessarily appreciate your own works. In other words, you might be terrible! And that’s completely natural. We promise you’ll have fun, and you’ll appreciate artists even more if you find it difficult to do yourself.

There are plenty of art workshops in Calgary! Here are a few to get you started:

5. Purchasing Your Original Art

After you’ve done the above steps and you’ve trained your eye, here are some tips to make your final purchase.

Large warehouse filled with an art exhibit. White makeshift walls separate different artist's work in a maze-like shape.

Attend a Student Exhibition Art Show

Alberta University of the Arts hosts an annual AUArts Grad Show Exhibition. You may find that you love a budding artist’s work and can get in on the ground floor. Art is an investment, and having the early work of an up-and-coming artist could be quite valuable later.

Rent Before you Buy

Places like ArtMatch not only represent Calgary artists, but artists around Canada. They will allow you to rent a piece of art before committing to making a purchase. You can even swap pieces monthly until you find one you like. This is another great way to see how you feel with the art in your home.

Original Canadian Art May Be Tax Deductible

The purchase of original Canadian art created by a Canadian artist may be tax deductible. Read more about the ins and outs of this fact in ArtMatch’s blog here.

Galleries to View & Purchase Art in Calgary:

Trépanier Baer

Gibson Fine Art

Webster Galleries & Avenida Framing

Paul Kuhn Gallery

Master’s Gallery

Final Thoughts

Selecting suitable artwork for your room is a personal artistic journey that requires exploration and thorough consideration. From the beginning of time, appreciation for beauty and artistic renderings of our surroundings has been a profoundly human experience. It’s the expression of how we experience the world.

Don’t be surprised if embarking on this journey creates a deeper connection to yourself as you curate an atmosphere that resonates with your inner being. So, embrace the art world, and let your home come alive with creativity and self-expression. Contact us if you have questions about creating a cohesive space through furnishings, art, and décor!