How to Choose Art for Each Room in Your Home

Visual artist Cecilia Villanueva creates new works in a large, bare room. | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

In this special 8-part, bi-weekly series—created in partnership with member artists of Archway Gallery in Montrose—we’re pleased to feature a selection of artists’ tips, recommendations, and perspectives on connecting with art, understanding its many forms, and how you to begin your own collection. In the series‘ third article, Houston visual artist Cecilia Villanueva provides keen insights and handy rules of thumb to help you choose the right pieces for the different rooms and spaces in your home.

Greetings art enthusiasts! If you are planning to buy art to decorate your home and you are not sure if it should match the couch… here are a few tips to guide you. 

We do not experience art only through color. We experience art mostly because of its content, even if the painting or sculpture is abstract. So, it is mostly about choosing what emotions, memories, or thoughts the art evokes in us due to its colors, shapes, theme, or rhythm.

Art inhabits a house with great force, and it is the second most interesting thing in a home… humans being the first. Pick your art thinking of yourself rather than the furniture (and pick your humans well also).

It is easy and fun to include art in every room if we understand basic design fundamentals. Once you learn them, I am sure you will feel more confident and will soon become an ace in choosing art for yourself, your family, and friends.

An original architecturally inspired work by Cecilia Villanueva | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Three Components of Every Room

Every room has essentially three components.

  • Verticals – Doors and walls
  • Horizontals – Floors and ceilings
  • Furniture –Tables, chairs, lamps and other accessories

And what about art?

Most of the time, art pieces are verticals. If the art piece is hanging from the ceiling; it’s a vertical. If it is a sculpture on a pedestal in the middle of a room; it’s a vertical. If it is a painting; it’s a vertical.

The only time art becomes a horizontal is when it is attached, or semi-attached, to a horizontal. For example, a mural painted on the floor or the ceiling, a structure such as a shallow pool, or an art piece meant to be walked on.

With this knowledge, you can be confident in following a simple design rule.

One Simple Rule of Thumb

Simply put—pair verticals with verticals and horizontals with horizontals. Furniture does not have to pair with anything, whether it be the horizontals or verticals.

Breathe deep; most of the time, art is a vertical. So, when buying art for a specific room, think how one piece of art will converse with another. Art does not have to match art, but a painting will certainly influence a sculpture nearby, or vice versa.

Choose art pieces that can become friends and harmonize—like different instruments in a concert playing together to make a statement or to quietly flow with no sound.

Art buyers considering colors, frames, and personal connections Archway Gallery. | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Troubleshooting Tips with Colors, Textures & Spaces

It can sometimes get tricky if your doors or walls are colorful (red, purple, yellow, green, blue, and the like) rather than neutral. Remember that black, gray, brown, and white are neutrals; wood is a texture, but we will classify it as a neutral just for this case.

Design for doors and walls can also be easy to tackle if you consider the following: 

  • A vividly-colored door will strongly influence an artwork nearby.
  • Drapery, no matter the color, is an accessory. So we do not need to take it into account for art acquisition.
  • A colorful wall or wallpaper will become the painting’s frame.

As for actual, physical frames, try to harmonize the frames used in the same room or area. For example, use black frames for the art that hangs in the library or home office space, no frames for the dining room, Victorian frames for the master bedroom, and chunky frames for the kitchen.

Also, if your space is small, check this counterintuitive rule: A big painting will make a small space look bigger.

Trust Your Emotions

Ultimately, what has worked best for me is to acquire art that resonates with me. My collection matches myself, my world, and my humanity; I try to use this same philosophy with my clients.

Dear friends, I hope that with this simple advice you feel confident to plunge into the deep waters of the art world. Above all, I hope you enjoy collecting and surrounding yourself with artwork you love!

But… if after reading this article you are still in doubt and want more advice, just call Archway Gallery at 713-522-2409 to find out when I will be there so that you can come chat with me about design questions you may have. No costs involved… but you can bring donuts, if you want.

Archway Gallery patrons explore original works created by Cecilia Villanueva and other local artists. | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Elevating local art and supporting the Houston art scene for 46 years, Archway Gallery is the longest-running artist-owned gallery in Texas. Stop by the Montrose gallery, meet an artist, and learn about owning original, local art. Plan a visit to the gallery or learn more.

A member of Archway Gallery since 2015, Cecilia Villanueva is a full-time visual artist and owner of Habitat, an architectural firm in Houston.  Working as an Archway curator, Villanueva has a passion for architecture, which she paints, draws, designs and builds—a love instilled at an early age by her father, an accomplished Mexican architect.

Learn more about Archway Gallery and explore its current and upcoming exhibitions.

Visual artist Cecilia Villanueva | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

This series has been created in partnership with and sponsored by Archway Gallery. Per our advertising and sponsorship policy, we only accept sponsored content from organizations that meet our editorial standards and truly present a valuable activity, event, resource or destination for residents and visitors across the greater Houston area. Advertising revenue helps support 365 Things to Do in Houston, and our contributors, allowing us to expand our coverage of activities and events around the Houston area. Learn more about promoting your event or business

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Cecilia Villanueva is a full-time visual artist and owner of Habitat, an architectural firm in Houston. She has been a member of Archway Gallery since 2015 where she also works as a curator.