Art & Interior Design
As an interior decorator, I can help you determine how to place art, and how to adjust the surrounding environment, if necessary, to make the most of the pieces you choose
Framing consultation is available, as well as framing services
Design consultations and services are available
For more information about decorating, please visit my design website insidestoryct.com.
Interested in learning more about living with art? Read on.
You’ve found the perfect piece for your walls, but once it’s up the room seems wrong. Maybe it seems dull in comparison to the bright painting you have chosen, or maybe, although your walls are a neutral off white, they suddenly seem dirty. Even extremely neutral colors may need to be adjusted too add more warmth, or a cooler edge. If, like most people, you have used white trim, you can leave it and adjust only the wall color. Painting only the walls is a relatively small job, but can shift the light dramatically.
Not sure which way to go? If you put several samples of off white or white next to each other you will easily see whether they are cool ( with blue or purple undertones) or warm ( with yellow or red undertones). This holds true for other colors as well. Put them together with a range of seemingly like colors and their differences will be readily apparent. Just shifting the backdrop can make a large change in the color atmosphere of the room.
A new piece of art can sometimes inspire a larger color change. Maybe those off-white walls need to have a stronger infusion of color; if you want more color but are afraid of overwhelming the room, an accent wall behind the art—or opposite it—could be what you’re looking for. Or go with a mid-toned neutral—a step or two down from the lightest colors on a paint chart. This will provide a stronger backdrop but less contrast between the images and the wall, creating a softer but richer impact.
Sometimes a few new pillows or a throw will do the trick. If you want to play a bit with the colors of the painting, pillows in a few of the colors will reinforce the connection between the room and the art. Solid color pillows are an easy choice, or have pillows made in a variety of colors and sizes, which will have a more dynamic effect. Do not, however, repeat every color in the painting in the room, or the effect will suddenly change from lively to sterile.
A throw can work in much the same way, altering or enriching the colors of an upholstered piece, and can also act as a jolt of color that relates back to the art.
In general, changing the size and scale of colored accents in a room will make things look more exciting. It will also encourage you and your guests to look more closely and enjoy the rhythm of the colors. The right accessories can emphasize the shapes in a painting, the color, or the light. The deep gold of a glass bowl could reinforce the gold light in a painting; a variety of geometric shapes in bowls, objects, or boxes could forge a connection with a piece with a cubist feel.
Often, when you bring in a piece of pottery or glass, suddenly you see a color in either the accessories or the artwork that you had not noticed before. A ceramic dish with a small amount of turquoise, for example, can suddenly illuminate a previously unseen turquoise line in a painting. This sort of confluence deepens the impact of both pieces.
Whether painting walls or introducing colorful accessories, the point is to not get hung up on perfection: perfect color matches are boring, as well as impossible. Better to play with a range of shades of one color, or to combine a few. An original piece of art brings a liveliness and authenticity to a room; living with it is an ongoing pleasure because there is always something new to discover. A room should function in the same way: it too, can be a work of art. Don’t be afraid to shift colors and accessories around to suit your art, your mood, or the seasons. That way there’s always the delight of a visual surprise as you see your rooms, and your art, in a new way.
Make the Frame Suit the Art, not the Room
Let’s say you have settled on the perfect painting for your living room. The colors in the art may contrast with the other colors in the space, providing a kind of punctuation point. Or, it may complement them, allowing both the room and the art to come into sharper focus. Art may match what is already in the space, adding depth and richness to the colors already in the room. No matter your strategy, now it’s time to consider the frame.
Especially if the painting introduces colors that are a departure from those used in the room, it may be tempting to try to use the frame to work the painting into the decor. . But don’t do it. The frame is about the painting. Now is the time to trust your original choice, and use framing to strengthen the image, rather than fight with it. The worst framing jobs I have seen are those in which a small area of color in the painting that “goes” with the room is pulled out and repeated in the frame. The result can be almost comical—the painting looks confused: it is framed in a way that does not reflect its strengths, and it appears to clash with its frame and even the surrounding decoration.
It would be far better to honor the painting with a sympathetic frame and introduce a new element into the decor to resonate with the painting. A couple of pillows or a throw can echo colors in the art, making it seem like a natural part of the room. Or don’t introduce a thing, and let the new colors sing. Either approach can be terrific.
No wonder framing is called an art: the right frame makes a print or a painting come into its own. Framing allows you to see parts of the painting that might normally be overlooked. The right frame can also elevate a less than glorious piece. A good framer is able to intuitively understand the strengths of an image, and chooses mats and molding that emphasizes them. Before you visit the framer, snap a picture of the room in which the art will be placed—that will help him or her understand the styles of frame that will work most effectively. There can be many ways to frame a painting well, but seeing the room helps to understand the context for the art.
Framing is also capable of some clever sleights-of-hand. If you fall in love with a painting that is not quite large enough to fill the space, a wide frame can work wonders. So can a well-chosen liner or a mat or two. If a piece does not lend itself to a wide, ornate frame, don’t worry: there are many simple, low profile frames that can add inches without giving an impression of bulk.
Frames can complement a painting, allowing the image to take center stage by providing a strong, yet unobtrusive, background. This painting by Lenny Moskowitz is quite large, and the image and colors are very strong: a flashy frame would have set up a competition, with the frame and the art vying for pride of place. Especially in a large painting it is important to let the work have center stage. In this painting, the soft, mottled wood tone of the frame does not overwhelm the image, and the gold liner picks up the golden colors in the canvas.
The following frame is the perfect complement to the art, an oil by John Lo Presti. The metallic color is a blend of silver and gold that perfectly evokes the light in the painting. The frame is also a bit wavy, as though molded by hand, which also suits the looseness and almost palpable atmosphere in the painting.
The smaller painting, also by Lo Presti, has a frame that is a matte finished deep gold that is darker at the edge; it brings out the gold in the art and provides a bit of light to highlight the darker colors of the painting. And the two frames together prove the point that frames need not match when paintings are displayed together.
Finding the perfect frame begins with really looking at the art you want to highlight. Is it part of a grouping? Does it need to stand alone? Do you want to invite the observer into the painting or do you want to let them gradually approach? Do you want the painting to look more contemporary, more classic, more or less formal, or do you want the frame to be completely unobtrusive? Whatever your requirements, first and foremost, it’s all about the art.
All frames in this article are by Fast One Framers in Wethersfield, CT.