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Design Rooms Artfully: Steps #1 & #2

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? The art or the room #decor? You can go either way, but if you have a fantastic piece of art that you really love, I say build the rest of the room around the fabulous #artwork. As an interior #designer, I always preferred to find something you really love no matter what it is, (an area rug, a gift from your parents, or a fabulous #painting) and then build around it. For this post I will expand upon building the room around a really great piece of art that you love. Good design is layer upon layer upon layer. If you want your art to look like a #masterpiece, then these tips should help take some of the guess work out, and make your artwork really stand out. There are many approaches, but these are the easiest ways to make it all click that I found, with the least amount of problems. I will post additional steps 3-5 in upcoming posts, so check back here later for the rest.

Step #1) Get a #plan in place. Start by removing anything from the room that you do not intend to keep, or that doesn’t have to be in that room once it’s completed. Do this first so it won’t distract or impair your judgment calls you will be making later. This gets a little tricky sometimes with couples. What one person loves, the other person might not be so fond of, so gently work out your differing opinions so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Perhaps you can find a better location for something in another room that will make everyone happy. Each of you may have very different visions of what the finished room should look like and what it should cost, so be sure to talk about these things up front. Usually there is one person more in tune with the details of the project, but make sure your partner knows what decisions will be needed to be made ahead of time for their input also. Be willing to give a little here and there on issues that aren’t quite as important to you as it is to your partner, and vice versa.

After you’ve removed the items that don’t have to be in the room, is a good time to reassess what exactly needs to be redone. It’s helpful to do this in a #list with one column of what “must/needs” redoing, followed by what you “want” to get redone, within what ever your set budget is (if you have one). Often once you remove things you find something that really needs a repair, such as a stain, or a hole in something, or maybe even a little sun damage or water damage to the walls or flooring. When draperies are removed and the surrounding areas are exposed and lit up, you might be surprised at what you find. The issue here is to prioritize what must be done first on the plan you are putting together. If you ignore a peeling wall or ceiling now, after the room is done it will be the elephant in the room and a much larger hassle to correct later with having to now protect all of your newly redone improvements. In your assessment, decide if the flooring, walls, ceilings, the paint, the doors, windows and sills, or window coverings are in good condition and a color you like that works well with your beloved painting – or if it’s time to redo some or all of it. After you formulate these lists, you might need to prioritize them again, and again until you find a plan that works well within your budget and your time frame.

Also note: nothing looks worse than a mish mashed slapped together room. Conversely, a well thought out plan will leave you happier for a much longer period of time. Go for quality over a cheap price in most everything because you do get what you pay for in most cases. It will last longer usually as well.

#2) Let’s assume the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows, etc are all in good condition and work well with your beloved artwork. But if you are questioning the color of the paint, get a few #samples of other colors. You can also order large swatches from many paint manufacturers that you can tape on the wall abutting your artwork to test out next to it, or have paint samples made that you can paint your own swatches on posterboard to tape up. You can paint a section of your walls with a sample, but then you are committed to repainting the room. Colors do react with other colors and can appear to change depending upon what color is next to it, and what type of lighting exists.

I prefer to put together a floor plan for furniture placement. Then I find the best place for the art to be situated so it is the main focal point in the room. For example, upon entering the room, where does your eye go to first? What wall do you see first? Secondly, where does your eye go to after becoming comfortable in the room such as being seated on the sofa or on a chair? Will you be moving the location of your sofa or seating, or completely replace it for a different size or configuration? What wall gets the most direct sunlight is another issue I’ll address later. You will need to decide what type of #lighting you will use for your artwork. Some lighting needs an electrician to hardwire it with a junction box on a new circuit; some types only need a nearby outlet to plug into; and some types only need batteries. Lighting is really important and will be addressed in my next post.

Hanging the art should be the last thing that you do to complete the room. For a focal point, the art usually should be hung so it is at eye level when you are standing or sitting, and your spouse’s vantage points need to be considered also – find the balance point between them before you secure the art onto the wall. If you hang it too high or too low, it won’t look right. If you are not sure, get a couple more pairs of eyes to look at your positioning of the art before you permanently attach it. Plaster walls are bit more difficult because re-positioning the art can really chip and crack your walls, so check what the best methods of attachment are for your type of wall. Sometimes you can readjust the wiring on the back to lose or gain an inch higher or lower. I often found ways to temporarily prop the art up on the wall or have someone hold it up on the wall, so I could back up and see how it would look over a table or sofa when entering the room before permanently affixing the art, which is always the last thing to be installed, short of a bouquet of flowers. I’d mark the installation spot on the wall with a piece of painter’s tape after making adjustments for any wires or hooks already on the back of the art. Installers usually used Molly’s in drywall to hold the weight of the art better. In the days of yore, paintings used to be hung on plaster walls with a ribbon that was attached from the crown moldings on the top of the wall to the art, bypassing holes in the walls completely. You can also install security #hardware that secures/locks your art to the wall so no one can easily remove the art, unless they have the tool to unlock it. This is especially good for vacation #rental properties, #airBnBs, #hotels, #commercial projects, or for theft prevention anywhere. Of course if they really want your art they may take part of the wall with them. If you lose the tool, you might do the same. Hold off permanently installing the artwork until you’ve addressed the lighting issues, and more.

To sum up so far, you’ve now got a plan. You know what needs repairs. You know what items you will need to replace, and those you will need to shop for. You have a budget in mind. You know where your fantastic artwork will be installed in the room to really enjoy it the most and maximize it’s impact.

You can see more of NL Galbraith’s Fine Art paintings at:

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(Steps #3 & #4 will cover lighting effects and colors on my next post.)