Not sure how to chose paintings and prints for your home? Five rules for stunning wall decor
Caroline foran has five rules for stunning wall decor
Wall decor is a very personal thing. Time was, you'd save up your hard-earned pennies to invest in a worthy piece of art - an oil on canvas, for example, worth more than a few hundred - and it would remain a permanent fixture in your home. As something you'd live with and look at for most of your adult life, and hopefully pass on to future generations, it was a major decision.
These days, though art connoisseurs still exist in their droves, we have a far more relaxed and fluid approach to how we decorate our walls and, thankfully, it's a lot friendlier on the finances. Style wise, we've moved away from paint and heavily in the direction of digital illustrations and photography. If your budget is limited, there are options aplenty on the high street and the best thing is, you can change things up as you feel the need; there's no long-term commitment. You could create a gallery wall with varying prints for less than €50, thanks to the likes of Etsy.com. And Ikea's your destination for simple yet effective frames.
Moving up the scale, you can easily get your hands on something unique, such as a limited edition print, for less than €100 - Ireland is currently teeming with artists and designers whose work is both special and affordable. Bear in mind, however, it's the professional framing and mounting that will cost you, should you go down that route.
The question is, where to start? How do you choose the prints that will work for not just your space but you as well? Follow this guide and you'll never go wrong.
Start with your space
Before you consider the style of print, or the colour palette, decide on where your print or collection of prints might live in your home. Do you prefer the idea of one larger, stand-alone piece that speaks for itself? Or are you the type who'll fall in love with several prints, therefore, you'll need to make room for everything? This will help you hone in on the size of what you're looking for. For example, large vintage movie posters look best on their own. But smaller typography prints can work wonderfully when grouped together.
Consider the colour
If you just moved in and you have the opportunity to start anew, working with a blank canvas, the world is your oyster. If, on the other hand, you are working with what you've already got, you'll need to be mindful of other dominant colours in the room. There's nothing wrong with clashing, and it's never that interesting when things match to perfection, but you want to avoid anything that will be particularly jarring. E.g. if you already have lots of vibrant colour in your soft furnishings - and perhaps a statement coloured sofa - are you best off keeping your wall prints muted? Try to avoid having everything competing for dominance in the one space. Or, if your room is already pared back as is, you can afford to go bolder with your wall art. Having an accent colour in mind will narrow your search.
Mixing doesn't always match
As with all interior styling, there are no set rules, but if you have an appreciation for all different styles, you should at least zone them accordingly. For example, if you decide to position an original landscape painting next to a high street reprint of an Andy Warhol pop art piece, neither one will get the benefit. When it comes to a gallery wall - where you curate a selection of prints together in a random cluster - start with one key piece and work from there.
Size wise, allow your key piece to be the biggest. Make sure to leave a little bit of breathing space for the wall and so that it's not an overwhelming visual for you either. Your gallery wall should live in a contained space; it's easier on the eye. Photography works best together, so resist the urge to place this style next to something handmade, and instead, keep it within the digital realm (such as typography). Three photographs of a similar style and the same size and frame will make a strong impact when positioned equidistant from each other.
Learn the lingo
It helps to do your research in advance so you familiarise yourself with the words used to describe what it is you like. This is particularly important when you're scouring for prints online, where your search terms will make everything a whole lot easier. E.g., know your banana leaf pattern - which can make a vibrant statement in a print - from your vintage Snellen Eye Chart (which lends itself so well to the current minimalist trends). Know your typography - words arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way (iamfy.co is a great resource) - from your screen printing and laser-cut art (Dublin's Jam Art Prints, jamartfactory.com, is the ultimate go-to here). And of course, these days, wall art goes beyond prints to hanging tapestries, neon wall signs and so much more.
Go beyond the wall
When you've chosen the prints that you love, and decided on what goes together and what's more impactful on its own, it's time to get them up on the walls. But hanging your frames - with the spirit level in hand - isn't the only way to do things. If you'd prefer not to drill holes into the wall, prints can look really effective when merely rested against it, on a console table, for example. Sometimes - in clutter-free environments - they look even better when they're left on the floor (but leaning against the wall). This is best for larger prints. It's an unfinished look but one that's very effective. Then there are the picture ledges - which are readily available in IKEA - where you can achieve the same look in a neater fashion. Another idea here is to stagger a series of old vinyl records together.