October 3, 2020

Purchasing Fine Art for Your Home and Office


urchasing fine art for your home or office can be a time consuming and stressful process, but it doesn't have to be! Ultimately, you want to purchase artwork that resonates with you and fills you with positive emotion each time you look at it. There are a few considerations to think about when purchasing your next fine art piece. This article will cover in brief the following topics:

  • Determining the right size artwork to purchase
  • Optimal locations to hang the artwork
  • Framed or unframed
  • Visual mock-ups to help you view your potential artwork
  • Lighting options
Antelope Canyon acrylic print shown hung above the fire place in modern home
"Blazing"  - Antelope Canyon, Arizona.  Unframed acrylic fine art print.

Determining the Right Size Artwork

Picking the best size artwork for your wall can be tricky. It is common for people to underestimate the size of the artwork they need to adequately fill the wall space. It is important to consider the size of the furniture in front of the wall. The guidelines below will help picking the right size artwork for your space.

Example print sizes on a wall above a centerpiece.

Three-Fourths Rule

First measure the width of your furniture in front of the wall. The width of the artwork should be around three-fourths the width of the furniture. For example, let's say you have a couch that is 80 inches long. Using the three-fourths rule (80 * 3/4), the artwork would look nice if it were 60 inches wide.

0.57 Rule

If you don't have any furniture in front of you wall, you can apply this rule. The space on either side of the artwork should be around three-eights the width of the fine art. To calculate the ideal artwork length, simply multiple the width of the wall by 0.57. For example, if you wall is 120 inches wide then using the 0.57 rule (120 * 0.57), artwork that is 68 inches wide would be perfect.

Use Cardboard or Newspaper to Visualize

To give a better visual representation of how large or small the artwork will look on the wall, tape cardboard or newspaper to the wall.  This is a simple yet effective way to understand if you need a larger piece of artwork to fill the space.

Consider Multiple Pieces of Art

Instead of purchasing one piece of artwork to fill the space, consider two or three smaller square or vertical pieces to fill the space. A collection or series of prints can showcase an area, location, or scene in different ways. In general, smaller pieces of artwork are less expensive to purchase.

Series of three photographs from Iceland's Jökulsárlón black sand beach.
Series of three photographs from Iceland's Jökulsárlón black sand beach.

Optimal Locations to Hang your Artwork

In addition to what size artwork to purchase, you also should think about where the artwork should be placed.

Ideal Height of Artwork

Artwork should hang six to twelve inches above furniture and three to six inches above mantels. This will create a nice balance between the art and furniture without feeling too crowded. In the case of a short piece of furniture, like the sideboard in the image above, hang the artwork so the center is 64 inches above the floor level. This will allow an average-height person to be eye level with the center of the artwork.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

As beautiful as the sun is to photograph, it can cause serious damage to your fine art over time. Light rays from the sun, including UV rays, will fade the color dyes in the print and cause staining or yellowing of the paper. The process is very gradual and happens over several years.

To help increase the permanence of your fine art, it is recommended the paper and matting used is of archival quality. Archival paper can last well over 100 hundred years under normal lighting conditions. We only use archival paper at Brent Goldman Photography to ensure your artwork will last for decades to come.

Avoid High Humidity Areas

In addition to sunlight, humidity can also wreak havoc on your fine art. It is important to keep relative humidity below 70 percent, or mold can start growing on your artwork. Additionally, try to maintain relative humidity levels within a 5 percent range throughout the day. This will help prevent the artwork from bowing, warping, and cracking as the framing materials absorb and give off moisture.

Framed or Unframed Art

Depending on the furniture and decor of your home or office, you may want to purchase framed or unframed artwork.

For a more modern and striking appearance, unframed artwork looks the best. Our Gallery Acrylic fine art print option is unframed. The 1/4" thick acrylic allows light to bounce through and illuminate the Lumachrome paper, creating a near 3-d effect.

Japanese Maple tree shown in Gallery Acrylic with Lumachrome paper
"Filter" - Japanese Maple, Oregon. Unframed Gallery Acrylic print option.

If you want a more traditional approach for your artwork, then framed options will look impressive. There are many varieties of framing materials to choose from as well as mats. I recommend working with a local framer to better determine which frame and mat will best suit your needs.  We currently do not offer any framing options at Brent Goldman Photography, but we do sell paper prints which are printed on FujiFlex Crystal Archive paper.

Fujiflex Crystal Archive paper print example of Point Lobos in Carmel California.
"Serenity" - Point Lobos, Carmel. Fine art FujiFlex Crystal Archive paper print.

Visualize Fine Art on your Walls

At Brent Goldman Photography, we can create visual mock-ups that show you different artwork hanging on your wall. This will help inspire confidence that the artwork will look great on your wall. If you send me a few images of your room and the dimensions of your furniture and wall, I can generate mock-up images. The dimensions can be used to help determine the appropriate size of the artwork.  Please visit my contact page to submit this information.

Visual mock-up of Point Vicente lighthouse hanging above couch.
"Respite" - Point Vicente Lighthouse, Palos Verdes, California. Example visual mock-up of Gallery Acrylic print on wall.

Lighting Options

LED light bulbs are a good choice to light your artwork because they do not emit UV rays that cause fading or emit damaging high heat.  Many galleries and museums are switching to LED lighting from incandescent or halogen bulbs.

There are several lighting configurations to choose from: track lights, picture lights, wall washers, and more. I recommend reading further about lighting configurations from this article by Architectural Digest.

For additional questions about your next fine art purchase, please feel free to contact us.

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