Art can change everything in a room.

When moving into a new home, it may feel uncomfortable, incomplete and not like home until the art is on the walls. Once the art is hung, there is life and meaning to the space where before there was emptiness. Art completes a room. 

That means it’s important to be aware of the feelings you are conveying when you choose artwork for the home. When the art is hung, you have now expressed yourself in the space and declared your own signature.

Many of the most successful projects I have created started with a client’s piece of wall art or with a rug, which really is floor art.

When hanging art, proportion, spacing and scale are important considerations. Just as important is the negative space or the place for your eyes to rest. This is the same as a rest between notes in music. Negative space helps make sure that you’re not placing too many pieces and crowding your space, and that they are not placed too close together. 

When hanging art on the wall, the worst thing you can do is hang it too high. Wall art has to relate to the furniture. If the space between the two is too large, the relationship is lost. When the art is floating in space unconnected, it loses its effect of bringing together the vertical and horizontal lines to complete the room. This is a valuable element because it tells your eye how to relate to the flow of the room.

I currently am working with clients who have a lovely glass art collection. While building their home, they were concerned about where to place their fabulous collection. I asked them to please be patient and the answer would reveal itself. I resisted finding a place to show off the collection until we determined the placement of the furniture. We know that “form follows function” and until my clients were living there, the function would not be known. I also wanted to see how the lighting would be on the glass. 

There is a four-letter word I often use with my clients. They cringe when I say it and then later thank me for it. The word is “wait.” It is so hard to wait when you are eager to finish. But it is so valuable to see your ideas come alive and determine what it is you need more or less of. All the visualizing you do is not as accurate as seeing it in person. The balance constantly changes as you bring in and place another new thing that has color, shape, style and proportion into the mix. And it is really important you love each piece you bring into your home. Don’t do it for the room — do it for you! 

So these clients who have this wonderful glass collection are finding that they want to be closer to the glass pieces and don’t want to put the beautiful translucent pieces on shelves or behind glass doors. Therefore, we are placing the collection like accessories around the room on tables and buffets as centerpieces and displaying them on open shelves hung low and close to the seating on the walls. This way the beautiful, sparkling collection becomes an interactive component of the space and not something that feels untouchable and unfriendly just to look at from a distance or behind a barrier. The visual pleasure is greater and the people are closer to their beloved pieces. 

Recently, I spent two hours with a client selecting colors for every room in her home. Then the painter applied large samples of the colors we had chosen on the walls. We spent 90 minutes applying the paints in different areas of each room. The final color selection amazed the client as I pointed out to her that her final choice was in almost every piece she had in her home. Either it was in a fabric, matting on a picture, detail in a lamp, design in a rug and much more. She was shocked and totally unaware of this, yet it was so obvious to me. 

Here again, had she been aware of

her own leanings, she would have had the confidence to make the selections on her own. She would have understood why and what she liked. Then she could have confidently accepted this as fact

and allowed the painting to happen without fear.  

Now, as you explore the artistic

wonders in your life, not only visualize  the pieces in your home or office, but picture yourself living with these pieces every day. Waking to them, being greeted by them when you come home or going off to your day knowing you will be returning to them. Love and honor yourself and you will love and honor the art you bring into your home to live with you.JN


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based interior designer and the CEO of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for interior design. For more information, visit

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