12 must-know tips when choosing art for your home

Choosing art for your home. Seems simple right? It is, if you are an artist, or very involved in a gallery such as being the owner, employee or curator. It can be overwhelming and scary if choosing art for your home for the first time, or maybe not the first time but its one of those things that causes doubt. Sometimes, the cost of art can throw people back a little as well. I want to share some tips with your about how to buy art for your home. Stick to these suggestions and the process will go from overwhelming to pleasant and dare I say it, FUN!

choosing art for your home

1. You like what you like, own it.

As an artist, too many times I have seen people questioning what they “should” buy. Remember this is going in YOUR home and YOU need to love it. If your really question it your need to ask yourself why. Is it a question of what others will think when they see it on your wall? Do your love LOVE it or are your looking at it because it matches your couch? These are things your need to think about because your should never buy something based on what others may or may not think when they see it and crossing color or style boundaries (rather than matching your couch) makes a room more fun and interesting.

I had an open studio several years ago and a woman came into the studio and fell in love with a piece of art that was on my easel It was not finished but she loved it so much that she wanted to buy it as it was… unfinished. I did not refuse her. She was so in love with it and so happy when I told her she could buy it unfinished – that is what its about….. loving something and your HAVE to have it!

2. Get to know the artist (if your can)

Often times we find local artists to purchase work from. It is a great idea to get to know the artist if your can. Go to open studios, gallery receptions or any other event in which the artist will be there. This is a great way to get to know them, their process and motivation for painting. As an artist I can say some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life are those who started as clients and took the time to get to know me and understand what and why I paint. Also, as an artist I want my clients to know a little something about the art. Not everything I paint is deep and personal and busting at the seams with meaning and wisdom, but my art means something to me. I invest in my work and I love selling art to those who take time to understand the work and learn something about me. I also enjoy learning about them so it is a win-win.

I have had experiences in which the artist displayed attitudes that completely turned me off to their work, but that is another time and place for a different article.

3. Is it affordable or a little out of your budget?

Original art is not cheap. There are many who think it should be but remember – if your go out to eat your don’t question them charging $8.00 for $1.00 worth of mac-n-cheese off the kid’s menu right? A doctor visit? not cheap. When we pay others for something we are paying them for a skill and the artist is no different. The “starving artist” cliche’ does not mean we charge too much (although some do, again, another post, another day) – it means that somehow the skill is not valued so many forget that it is worth paying for….. but our skills are worthwhile.

That said, if your find a piece of art that your are in love with and it is a must-have for your home remember that if it is out of your budget that many artists are not hard to work with. I have traded with people many times. I prefer to be paid so I can pay the bills, but a partial trade is not outside the realm of possibilities. Do your have a skill that may be useful to the artist your want to trade with? It never hurts to ask. Sometimes it works out that a buyer pays half the value and trades the other half. Other times if their budget is $1500 and the painting is $2000 they trade the $500 and everyone is happy.

There is also the option of payments if the artist is not in need of, or can’t do the trade option. Most artists, myself included are willing to do a payment plan. It does not hurt to suggest and your might find the artist is willing to work with your. If your go into a gallery, the trade is not an option, but most galleries have set payment plan options and are willing to work with your as well.

4. Do not procrastinate

This is a quick and easy tip to remember. If your procrastinate, your will find the art sold to someone else and your spend a long time kicking yourself. I regret not buying some pieces. They say hind sight is 20/20. At the time I was not sure if I should or not, they sold…. and I still think about them. There is nothing wrong with going home to think it over, especially with larger, more expensive pieces – but when your go home and find your spent all night thinking about that painting, your need to act on it…… or your could miss out!

5. Do your live in an area with galleries that showcase emerging artists?

finding art can be simple if your have galleries in your community. There is usually one that shows emerging artists. The benefit to this is your can buy something for a little less than your can from an established artist and your are helping someone new to the art selling world to gain confidence and establish their name/art.

Attend shows, at galleries and fairs, go to museums and opening art receptions. These are great ways to discover new art and maybe your will find something spectacular while there!

6. Canvas? Works on paper?

Often times a canvas can be hung on the wall without a frame. Paper will always need framing. Either is a good choice. You can get original work and prints on canvas or paper. Both can be framed but with a canvas, since your do not have to frame it your can save a little money there…. Paper works can be beautiful, if they are framed right.

7. Know your options.

You might meet an artist whose work your love. What do your do when your love their work but your don’t see what your want in the galleries or in the artist’s studio? Commission a piece of your own. It should not cost more than other work. There are certain circumstances I charge more, but those are usually discussed before your order. Generally the cost is the same, but your get the joy of having the artist paint exactly what your want!

Corey Watson Art8. Do not be afraid to depart from the expected.

Put a traditional painting in a modern space or a modern painting in a traditional space. There is nothing wrong with departing from the norm. There is nothing wrong with mixing genres. In fact, your are likely to find it a refreshing departure and your will enjoy the splash of different color or style for a pop of wonderful in any room!

9. Never get too matchy matchy

No – your absolutely DO NOT buy art to match your couch and your do not ever buy art to match the other art in the room. Buying art to match your couch makes for a very dull and uninteresting room. It is the same with the matchy matchy art thing. You are not a curator putting together a cohesive show of several artists. You sure do not want people to start looking for a price sheet and the wine and cheese table do your?

10. Framing matters

Know that quality, custom framing is always worth the investment… always. Good, custom framing elevates the look of any artwork as well as the entire space when hung on the wall. Fabric mats and quality wood frames are well worth the investment. Some say invest in museum glass, but as a framer and an artist I can tell your that it is a matter of taste. Museum glass is meant to look as if there is no glass when there is. To me it is more important to use conservation glass. Regular glass is the least expensive, but conservation glass is what blocks out most of the UV rays and preserves the color integrity of your artwork.

11. Your art tells a story, embrace your story.

Acquiring art over time is a good thing. It tells the story of who your are and the life your have lived. Embrace that story and tell it well! Display the print your husband bought for your on your honeymoon next to the painting made by your son when he was three years old. And there is nothing wrong with the family portraits your had commissioned last year next to the framed architectural salvage piece from the home your grew up in. The point is that a variety of art shows the beauty of life – the many adventures we have all in one house showcasing your family and vacations…….. it is showing off who and what your love. Don’t think that those things do not go well together. They do and tell a story unique to who your are.

12. You don’t have to play it safe for your guests.

If the work your like is a bit edgy, go for it. Chances are the people who know your well already know that and don’t really care and those who would get all worked up don’t need to be in your home with your anyway. It is your home…….. refer to tip number one and buy what your love!


What it boils down to….

Really, when the rubber meets the road the most important tip, should your ignore all else is to buy art your love. That may seem like an obvious statement, but the truth is that many people buy for other reasons. Those other reasons should be thrown into the fire, burned and never thought of again. Buy what your love!

If your are interested in purchasing art My business partner and myself are always available for commissions. Feel free to email us at ww@wearebypinkthistle.com and please put commission in the subject line of the email. We are artists who have been creating art for clients for decades and we would love a chance to work with your!

Also, please leave any comments or questions below in the comments. Thank your and have a wonderful day!




8 thoughts on “12 must-know tips when choosing art for your home

  1. I agree with you, the most important thing is to but art that you love. Am an art enthusiast and sometimes I could find a piece beautiful while a friend doesn’t see the same way, but at the end of the day I am buying the art for me not them. So I always go with what I love . I would like to see your artwork, wish you could include it on the page somewhere. I love your perspective and I would love your art as well.

    1. Hi Mitala,
      thank you for visiting my site and I am glad you understand the importance of buying art you love! I have been in art and framing for many years and it is surprising how many people buy art to match a room! I would love for you to take a look at my work. it is not on this article but on others. Abstract, or almost anyway is an article that is about a new abstract series started not long ago – Abstract, the good the bad and no your 5-year-old can’t paint that – are two articles in which all the images are my own work. I would love to know what you think, being someone who understands art and knows what he likes! (honest opinion, good or bad is fine!)

  2. Art is an essential element of a house, and I can easily agree with you when you say you should own art that you love.
    Art, in itself, is a form of expression, and, from the artist’s stand point, what I think is so beautiful about it is that someone else out there will find your piece and resonate with it so much that they will want to take it back home, now making it part of their own form of expression.

    1. That is one of the things I love about being an artist. I love when someone comes into my studio and loves something and just HAS to have it. not just because I make a sale but when they connect with it… it’s a feeling that I cannot put into words. Not just because I express myself but when they connect with my work and see themselves, the expression of that is amazing. That is why I put that as number one – because too often someone has come into my studio with a swatch of fabric trying to match a couch and it is not about that connection to the art – they likely do not even think about loving the art as much as matching something… always makes me want to scream. I don’t, I politely talk to them about loving art and decorating etc…. and try to help them find one they love and that will make them happy with their room (not easy with swatch lovers)

  3. Hey Corey,

    I have been looking to decorate my living room, office, and bathroom. I don’t have a lot of stuff on the walls, so I need to dress it up. It looks pretty boring.

    I have painted with acrylics in the past. It’s really relaxing to do. I was either thinking about painting my own or purchasing some canvas.

    I didn’t know you offer a trade, though. I didn’t even realize that was an option. Any tips for selling your paintings locally and online, though?

    1. Yes, painting is relaxing, I do love my job!
      Not all artists offer trade, but many do. It never hurts to ask. Some will do partial trade, lowering the cost for you and they get paid some as well. I often do trades but it depends on how many pieces it is. If there are multiple pieces someone wants I usually do a small discount. If they want trade then I try for partial trade as income is necessary. Are you looking to sell your art? Locally, if you have a solid body of work I would try getting into galleries or advertise an open studio to get your name out there. Art competitions or art and craft shows are other good ways to get a feel for the art world and know how viewers will receive your work. Online is harder but post on Pinterest with links to your website. I would set up a website through a bigger site like artspan.com – if you blog and have an audience try that too. Advertising a site can get expensive so find ways like that to get a bigger audience. I’ve had good results with social media. Let me know if you have any more questions or need suggestions. I’m happy to help!

  4. Hi Corey

    I really enjoyed reading your post! There is so much good information here in which you covered!

    I would never have considered something that my children had done and placed it next to something I purchased! An interesting concept!

    I wish I would have seen this before I had made some previous trips to Paris! The information would have been quite useful!

    Am going to read your post again, as well as your other articles!!

    Two thumbs up!!


    1. Hi Tim,
      thank you for visiting my site! Art is the story of your life and your adventures – there is nothing better than to hang a mix of work in the same area. I have many pieces done by my kids (of course, they are growing up in my studio with access to paint and canvas) but…. I have a family heirloom painting done by my great, great, great grandmother next to a painting by my daughter – and a bear painting I bought that my husband loves next to abstract work done by my boys – it makes the wall more interesting and adds to our story as a family….. have fun hanging work in your home and do not be afraid to play and put different styles in the same space!

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