How to Add Art to Your Home

The art world is dynamic, exciting and vibrant. It can also be intimidating when you’re trying to decide how to bring one or many of its myriad works into your home.Whether you’ve already started an art collection or are a first-time buyer, these area gallerists, art advisers and interior designers are firm on the most important thing to consider when collecting art.

“Quite simply, buy what you love,” said Karen Boltax, a private dealer for her business, this artful home. Boltax reasoned that this way, even if the monetary value of the piece does not increase with time, you will still get joy from it. She noted that if financial investment is the only consideration for a choice, the buyer is gambling as artists constantly cycle in and out of favor.


Lawrence Fine Art, Caption: Painting by Etsuko Ichikawa, untitled, molten glass on paper, 2012. Sculpture by Seymour Meyer, Up and Away, Bronze, c. 1970. Artwork feature at Harbor’s Edge Luxury Condominiums, Sag Harbor, NY.

Caitlin Flynn of North Fork Design Co. agreed it’s best to pick art that speaks to you in some way. She added that, “If you are in the market for a particular piece of art, it is helpful to know the approximate size and orientation you think will work best [in a room]. However, if you see art that you just have to have, get it. There is always a place to incorporate a new piece.”

The extent to which the available space in your house plays a role in art selection depends on your personal preference. Some designers think you should know into which room and exact area a painting or sculpture will go, while other specialists recognize the merits of forgoing meticulous planning. (Of course, you need to ensure the artwork will literally fit inside the house.)

image: Lawrence Fine Art, Caption: Joe Novak's  “Nexus,” acrylic on canvas, 1997, hangs in a Palm Springs, CA, home.

image: Lawrence Fine Art, Caption: Joe Novak’s “Nexus,” acrylic on canvas, 1997, hangs in a Palm Springs, CA, home.

“There are often times when you are looking to fill a specific space, but this should never be the driver,” Boltax said, “Art’s purpose in your life is to inspire feelings, provoke thoughts, [and] challenge beliefs. If it happens to fill ‘that spot,’ well, you’ve really scored.”

In the same vein of parameter awareness is the topic of color.

“Should the art match the sofa?” queried Howard Shapiro, director of East Hampton’s Lawrence Fine Art gallery, “The answer is definitely no. Boring.”

Even so, “Color should be a consideration—out of respect for the art if not the home,” said East End Arts Gallery Director Jane Kirkwood. “A pastel abstract in a room of primary colors does a disservice to all concerned.”

Display choice and proportion should be top of mind when picking art, too.

Shapiro appreciates a bold approach to showcase artwork. He added, “Go for impact. [The art doesn’t have] to be all of the same type or genre. Let the house reflect your taste in all its variety.” His own house, he said, features both abstract paintings and traditional florals.

“The size of the piece, such as an over-sized painting, can have a dramatic effect,” Flynn added. “A collection of smaller works can also be impactful and arranged in different ways.”

Budget, while perhaps a less exciting aspect of acquiring art, is a facet of the process that can’t be ignored. Know what you plan to spend before you visit a gallery, exhibition, or art fair, as well as prior to working with an art adviser/consultant or interior designer.

“There’s great work out there at all price points,” Boltax said.

Go on, confidently move forward in your art decision-making.

rachel kalina

Rachel Morgan Kalina is the creative director of The Wood & Watch jewelry and a freelance writer. She knows how to wield a flame to shape metal; loves to travel; and is passionate about art, antiques, DIY, and nature. Visit her at and