Some people have a natural affinity for putting a room together in a way that seems effortless. They manage a mix of class, comfort, and style, while others might struggle. Most people can’t afford a professional stager or art consultant for their home on an ongoing basis, but that doesn’t mean that they need to sacrifice a polished look. There are a wide variety of ways to up the ‘wow factor’ of your home through a little artistic exploration.
Photo by Vincent Tantardini
Visual artist Susanne Langlois is a well-versed Canadian artist with a background in both clothing design as well as painting, and she certainly has an eye for designing a bright and vibrant space. Currently in the middle of building a home that her husband designed, Susanne has a flare for making stylish inspirations a reality.
Susanne has compiled some fantastic tips to allow even the most novice decorator to bring their space to the next level through the addition of artwork that will fit any environment and budget. So, what is the best way to decorate your home with art that will bring you joy?
Make Sure You Love Your Art
Much like clothing, make sure you love an item of art before you make a purchase. Having a connection to the work you select for your home is the best benchmark for a piece that you are going to be happy with long term. No one needs an enormous oil painting to act as a centrepiece for every room, but something as simple as favourite photo blown up or a piece of artwork your child created, or even a re-framed piece that has been handed down within your family will work well, particularly for those on a budget.
A Small Space Doesn’t Have To Mean Tiny Art
Just because a space is smaller, like in a condo, this doesn’t mean that art needs to be on the smaller size. Susanne says:
I have a great friend and supporter who just purchased one of my largest pieces for her condo (30"X60"), but it sits above a 5-foot couch and looks amazing, without dominating the space at all.
Susanne adds that in addition to trying out a larger piece you love in a smaller space, consider the use of a mirror to create the illusion of more space.
Adding Comfort To A Modern Space
Colour and texture are great ways to make a modern space feel a little more homey and cozy. For example, Susanne suggests that a painting on canvas in warm colours is going to feel cozier than a slick black and white photograph. Antique rugs or textiles from your travels can become very warm and personally meaningful accents. Another idea is creating a gallery wall. Pinterest is ripe with suggestion on how to hang a gallery wall. Susanne adds an important tip:
Don't make the rookie mistake of putting a too-small piece alone on a large wall.
Photo by Elsa Noblet
Champagne Quality Art On A Beer Budget
There are endless possibilities for art, so don’t let a strict budget discourage you. Susanne says:
You can always get the frames from IKEA and frame up things that will look great, either in a large frame or an installation of small frames.
Some options Susanne suggests include: Children's (or your own!) original art, a series of photos printed in black and white, colourful prints like vintage wallpaper or Japanese paper, textiles, framed posters from online, or even meaningful mementos from your travels. All of these will look great grouped together in simple frames. Love a band? Consider purchasing a poster online or at a show and having it dry mounted at a local print shop. Talk to friends about setting up a trade for art that they’re looking to shift.
Don’t Be Afraid To Use Technology
Technology can be a fantastic resource to both find art, and figure out how it will look in your space. Susanne recommends visiting ArtBomb, an on-line daily art auction site which features Susanne’s work and the work of many Canadian artists at reasonable prices. Wondering how something will look - websites and apps such as artbeamer and wallapp can help you preview art in a virtual room to get a feel for how it will fit into your own space.
Consider Renting Your Artwork
Many people are unaware of this, but there are art rental galleries where people can rent the work they display in their home and switch it up every now and then. Susanne recommends anyone interested in renting out artwork to check out the AGO’s Art Rental department. As she says, this option is a fantastic opportunity for both the artist and the client.
Be Bold & Consider Colour Contrast
Art that compliments a room and furniture is nice, but other times contrast can be just the thing a room needs to snap it into place. Susanne encourages people to put their fears aside:
Sometimes contrast is a great thing. If a room is colourful and on the busy side, there is always a neutral option like a line sketch or black and white photography to act as a balance piece.
On the other end of the spectrum, Susanne suggests adding a pop of colour to a neutral room to liven things up.
Avoid Buyer's Regret by Taking Your Pricier Art For A Test Drive
Sometimes it’s fun to have your art complement a bold piece of furniture, and setting your search on working with that particular item. Many artists, particularly if their work is at a higher price tag, are willing to let a person try out a painting to see how it works in their home. In love with a particular local artist? They may be willing to bring a few pieces to you to try for your walls, so consider asking.
Networking For The Perfect Piece
Two good approaches to finding quality art are combining an effort to seek out for a piece for a wall or room, and on themes you tend to enjoy (i.e. watercolours or cityscapes etc.) Susanne explains:
In an ideal world you will find the pieces of art that speak to you and by nature they will fit in with your home.
However often there is a time-line and you want to make your space complete. There are many ways to get access to fantastic work. Susanne suggests finding a gallery that you love and trust, and asking others about their art and where they got it. You might be surprised how much people love talking about this, and you never know what discoveries this might lead to. In February Toronto hosts The Artist Project, a large and accessible contemporary art fair, providing access to around 250 artists and their work.
Pieces For An Open Concept Floor Plan
Susanne admits that art for an open-concept space can be tough, but a rewarding challenge. She suggests:
Using one anchor-piece, perhaps your largest piece as a starting point is a good idea. I think the best thing to do is just experiment by laying pieces out on the floor together or leaning against the wall.
Susanne also suggests moving these around a lot because it can be surprising to find out which pieces complement one another in unexpected ways. For smaller pieces, consider grouping them together or hung low over pieces of furniture like a bench or console. Susanne suggests another classic tip to keep in mind for your space, "do not hang your art too high!"
Another set of eyes from an artistic friend could be key, or if budget permits a splurge for that perfect piece, an art-consultant. Susanne recommends local art consultant Kari Anderson.
Learn More About Susanne and her work: