Houston Interior Designer Danna Smith Shares Her Tips for Buying Art 

By: Danna Smith

When thinking about art, the first thing that comes to mind are paintings, sketches, and drawings. Art can also be handmade tapestries or sigils hanging on a wall. Beautiful rugs or sculptures are also considered art. At Pamela Hope Designs, we aim to help clients find art that speaks to them while elevating their space. To help you on your curation journey, I’m sharing some of my tips for buying art. 

Determine Your Style

What style do you like? Modern, abstract, or traditional? What periods do you prefer? You can explore your preference by visiting museums and art galleries to see what you like and don’t. When looking for that perfect piece for your home, there are a few things to keep in mind. Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do. Art should speak to you. When you find the perfect piece, you’ll just have to have it. It’s something you feel. If you love it, you should trust your instincts and purchase it. 

Set a Budget & Parameters 

Just as you would set a budget for furnishings, setting an art budget will help lead you to a piece you will enjoy displaying. Art is an investment. Make sure you do your research on the artist as well. Good art holds its value over time and doesn’t tend to go up or down based on market fluctuations. Be sure to track your purchase. Another point to consider is ensuring the art you select fits your home. You should always have a good idea of the space’s dimensions before purchasing a new piece.

Allow Your Tastes to Evolve

Sometimes our tastes change, and you may be less in love with the piece than when you first purchased it. That’s okay. Our styles evolve, and the art you bought several years ago may not hold the same meaning for you as it once did. If you want to evaluate or sell a specific piece of work, it is imperative to have the proper documentation to do so. You should receive documentation from the artist to the gallery for your records.

Evaluate Original Art vs. Prints

At our Houston interior design firm, we prefer to use original art where we can. Using original art in the principal rooms, such as home offices, entries, dining rooms, living rooms, and primary bedrooms, gives presence to the space. Prints suit secondary rooms like guest, children’s, media, and playrooms. 

Move Your Collection with You

Art is an investment you can take with you when you move. For example, we helped clients find a beautiful piece of art for their formal living room in their River Oaks house. It was stunning! A couple of years after the project was completed, we received word from our clients that they were moving into a new townhome. They wanted us to help them renovate it, which we, of course, were happy to do.

Along with most of the furnishings from the River Oaks home, we needed to find the perfect spot for their art. We decided to hang the piece that was in their formal living room in their new game room. The colors worked perfectly with the felt on the pool table. The townhome has an open floor plan, so the piece is visible to everyone walking through the house on the way to the living and dining room. It’s perfect! 

A beautiful oil painting by Michael Schultheis hangs on the wall of a game room behind a blue felted pool table and above a ledge and stools for sitting

The artist is Michael Schultheis. This is an oil painting, and the piece is so unique in color and shape. The texture is exceptional as well. When you get up close, you see the surface comprises math equations. It is beautiful!  

Our client also wanted to have a little bit of fun with the art in her office. Rosie the Riveter and Princess Leah from the homeowner’s previous home feel right at home in the new space.

Pop culture are of Rosie the Riveter and Princess Leia hang above a white desk in an office designed by Danna Smith at Pamela Hope Designs

Examples of Successful “Art Projects”

The Whimsical Townhome

Our client in the Montrose area has several original pieces throughout her home. She loves color, so we used it extensively throughout. In her dining area, we framed a hand-painted silk scarf from Brooklyn-based artist Rebeca Raney. 

A Dining room with pops of vibrant color, highlighted by a framed hand-painted scarf by artist Rebeca Raney.

For her living room, she purchased an oil painting by a local artist Sara Moons called Free to Blossom.  

A living room with pops of color and an oil painting by Sara Moons called Free to Blossom

We used a colorful modern piece painted on wood by Sean Ward called Trichromatic for her game room and found the perfect fabric to complement her window cornice. 

A brightly colored game room with a modern piece painted on wood by Sean Ward called Trichromatic

We installed several other art pieces throughout the home as well. 

The Mid-century Retreat

Our client in the Southgate area loves mid-century modern decor and decided on two pieces by artists Steven Alexander and Arthur Turner. Steven Alexander’s Arena II hangs above the console, and Arthur Turner’s Basalt Flyer accents the dining room. Both pieces are from Arnoult Fine Art Consulting. The complementary colors play off each other and help unite the two areas in this open-concept scheme. 

A modern styled living room with two pieces by artists Steven Alexander and Arthur Turner. Steven Alexander’s Arena II hangs above the console, and Arthur Turner’s Basalt Flyer hangs above the dining table. There is a dog.

Collect Art that Sparks Joy

So, remember, art fosters feelings of relaxation, inspiration, and creativity. The art you choose for your home should make you happy, give you a sense of joy, and boost your mood. You live with it every day, so it should spark joy when you see it.  

Remember, art can be a sculpture, a painting, a tapestry wall hanging, or a sketch by a well-known artist or someone just starting out. The point is you must love it. When you love it, you will love it for many years to come. Until next time, let your creative juices flow!

 — Danna

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