Thursday, May 19, 2022
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How to Find Artwork that Complements Your Home


I should probably start by explaining that when I say “artwork that complements your home,” what I really mean is artwork that reflects you and what you love. In my mind, a home is—or at least should be—an amalgam of your cumulative lived experiences, so what you hang on the walls and arrange on your shelves would do well to display that

Two other caveats and then we’ll get into it. 

First, finding and filling your home with art can’t be rushed. It just takes time. If you’re like me, you might love scrolling through beautifully curated rooms on Instagram full of cool, tagged products. And it’s tempting to want to graft those rooms onto one of your own. But I would caution you to wait—or choose a single item that speaks to you and let your own collection continue to build over time. 

The second is that you should take everything I say with a grain of salt. Truly, if there’s a way that you like to do things and it is the exact, complete opposite of everything I’m telling you—great. Keep doing that. Life is short and you should do what makes you feel good and your home feel like your sanctuary. (You’re the one who has to live there, after all.)

Okay, without further ado—here are my tried-and-true methods for finding artwork that complements your home. 

I look for art in unexpected places.

Yes—you can find some really fun prints at shops like Minted, Society6, or The Poster Club, and you can find cool limited-edition pieces at Tappan Collective or Magnum Photos, but some of our favorite art has come from unexpected places, like live music events. (My husband and I met at a punk rock concert, so music is really meaningful to us.) 

We always stop at the merch table to see what’s available; you’d be surprised by the number of bands who have screen-pressed posters made to commemorate different stops on their tours (and they’re usually signed and numbered). We’ve also found some great documentary-style photographs of our favorite artists performing live—usually by local photographers, who we love to support. 

Another unexpected place: your favorite small(ish) designers and retailers. There are a handful who will often curate—or commission—art to sell with their apparel and home accessories. Right now Rachel Comey and Soho Home have some art I would love to scoop up and Idun carries original art and photography from the owner’s friends and family. 

I see our home as a time capsule.

That is to say, my husband and I aim to have a story and a reason behind everything inside our home, and that goes double for art. As a result, we have a lot of objects from our travels—an exhibit poster from Design Museum Denmark, menus from bucket list restaurants, and concert tickets all hang on our walls. We walk by these things daily and like to relive those moments, especially during these times when we choose not to stray too far from home. 

Musical instruments (a cello and several electric guitars), kids’ Play-Doh sculptures, a gorgeous wood carving of a horse head and mane carved by my grandfather, and a Japanese Lucky Cat that reminds us of one of our favorite bars—these all serve as objets d’art around the house as well. 

When the going gets tough, I get creative. 

Real talk: we do get inspired by other people’s styles and what they have in their homes (I know, I know). So when I walk into someone’s living room and immediately want to start Googling an artist I’ve never heard of … I stop. And I ask myself, what, exactly do I like about it? Is it that exact photo? The way it was photographed? Or do I just like it because that person owns it? Considering what resonates most helps me get better at choosing my own stuff. And hell, if you did like that thing, Google’s search algorithm is amaaaazing. Wink. 

We’ve also recreated art we liked on television that does not technically exist. Now, hear me out. Over the pandemic, we watched a terrible show called Space Force that has one redeeming factor: a really cool oversized print featuring an astronaut playing golf on the moon. I Googled it (naturally) and it doesn’t exist. At least, not like it was in the show. So we did a lot of digging to find the original photo and then tapped a graphic designer friend to add in Mr. Aldrin’s golf club and—voila

and sometimes I cheat.

Here’s what I mean: If there’s an artist whose prints you want, but couldn’t possibly afford while retaining both kidneys, do some research to find out if their work is featured anywhere else. One photographer I love publishes periodicals with his work at a fraction of the price of his original pieces. Some magazines include small-scale reproductions from artists they’re featuring. Postcards from museums. Exhibit playbills. Magazine covers. If something about that work calls to you—roll up your sleeves and make it work. Then get those suckers framed—because nothing says “This is real, I swear” more than mats and frames.

A final thought

You know what else counts for art? Your home itself. Its aesthetic. The patterned tile of your kitchen backsplash. The wallpaper in your powder room. The artful assembly of magazines on your coffee table. The way you arrange your bookshelves. (Alphabetically? Autobiographically?) Congrats, it’s all art. And if you carried it into your house—if you love it—there’s no way it can’t complement your home. 




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