It is one of the great chicken and egg questions of interior design. Should art inspire a room’s furnishings or should furnishings shape the art?

Art itself is integral in interior decoration and design. A carefully selected painting brings an important sense of texture and a new dimension. It makes a room feel sophisticated and polished – ‘finished’ in fact.

Most importantly, art adds the absolutely essential element of any truly stylish abode: personality.

Matisse red room

Have you ever walked into a beautiful, perfectly decorated house and couldn’t quite place your finger on what is wrong? Then looked around and realised that whilst there may be a Mediterranean pink feature wall and some photo prints framed in bamboo, there are no paintings or pieces of art to invoke that unmistakable element of all great rooms: soul. The art we choose reflects who we are.

Naturally, many artists and lovers of painting feel that art should stand alone – that it fundamentally has nothing to do with something as simplistic as the décor. However, pushing aside the multi-faceted layers of the art world, the intricacies of which are obviously manifold, what can be interesting from a decorating perspective is how to best maximise art to shape the look and feel of a room.

For those interested in co-ordinated living as well as art, it is worth considering the following rules for harmonising the two using some fundamental approaches.

  1. To use art to create an ambience and theme, echo the colour and lines from the art in the furniture.
  1. Multiple works of art in the same style or by the same artist increases the impact. Hanging paintings as a collective all over a wall is called ‘Salon Style’ and emanated from Parisian salons of the 1900s. It creates a cohesive effect that allows the viewer to focus on the general feeling and impression rather than individual paintings.
  2. Add a mirror to a room to reflect an important painting and increase the impact of the art, as well as create an extra dimension.
  1. Art should be at eye level. Given the differences in height that we are all blessed with, the rule of thumb is to hang art 60 to 66 inches from the floor. This rule works for everyone.
  1. Lighting is KEY if you want to spotlight art as well as enhance a room. From tracking lights to wall washers, there are numerous techniques to light art to perfection. Check out this article from Architectural Digest to get some tips on how to light up your collection.

    SHAZIA FOUROne of the outstanding features of Decor + Design 2016 will be Design Bazaar & WALL ST – designed to foster and grow developing independent studios. WALL ST will provide small independent studios and Surface Artists the chance to showcase custom work and collections to an audience of over 10,200 design professionals and retailers. Take a sneak peek at the work of WALL ST exhibitor Shazia Imran here and block out your diary now to attend Australia’s No.1 Interiors event from 21 – 24 July at Melbourne Convention Centre.