Art Should Bring You Joy

As any art lover can attest, artwork has the power to transform a room. But, where do you begin when contemplating, buying and curating pieces for your home?

Dramatic, jubilant or serene, art is undeniably evocative – in a personal way. The one thing we can all agree on is that the appreciation of art is a joyfully individual and subjective experience.

Interior designer Emily MacAlpine, owner of MARG. Studio, runs the Art Buyer’s Course and is passionate about guiding clients through the seemingly daunting process “no matter what their budget may be”.

“The choice and value of art that is available can be overwhelming,” she says. “Start by looking at a lot of art. I usually advise students and clients to begin at national galleries and institutions where you will find historically recognised ‘good’ art.

Artworks in the living and dining rooms can have more impact, according to Swee Lim of Swee Design. Photo: Shannon McGrath

“Observe which works you are drawn to and why. Articulate what you don’t like and why, as that’s often the fastest step to knowing what you do like.

“Don’t buy wall fillers – artworks that are bought for the specific purpose of taking up a blank space. Art should be purchased with more depth than that, and being patient will be well worth your while.”

Lim also advocates the importance of harmonising art with the home’s architecture and interiors. Photo: Shannon McGrath

“If clustering artworks, odd numbers are more visually pleasing to the eye and balance your walls better,” she says. “Aim to have your artworks ‘talking’ to one another with the subject matter, the meaning, colours or size. Art is designed to be enjoyed by your eyes, so make sure works are hung at eye level for maximum exposure.”

Designer and art consultant Swee Lim, of Swee Design, advocates the importance of harmonising art with the home’s architecture and interiors.

“Consider whether the style is contemporary, traditional, minimalist or busy, casual or glamorous,” Lim says. “The mood can also be determined by the function of the room.

Art in the bedrooms should be calming. Interior designer: Emily MacApline. Artist: Kezz Brett. Photo: Sheri McMahon Photography

“For example, bedrooms should be calming, while living areas can be vibrant and energetic.”

Certainly, the specific wall to be adorned must be carefully considered, according to Lim.

“The location can determine what type of artwork you choose,” she says. “For an entrance, you might want a hero piece to create impact and a ‘wow’ experience. Works in the ‘public’ areas, such as living and dining rooms, can have more impact.

Above all, art should bring you joy. Photo: Shannon McGrath

“The size needs to reference the wall and room it is in. As an art consultant, I draw up artworks to scale on walls on a computer program to work out the best ‘fit’. For those at home, it’s just as easy to put Blu Tack on the wall to show the four corners of an artwork, or to put up newspaper to get a sense of scale.”

Remember art should bring you joy. As MacAlpine says: “The beauty of art is that it’s a personal choice and can be a conversation starter.”

MARG. Studio’s Emily MacAlpine shares her tips for collecting and curating art

Emily MacAlpine from MARG Studio. Photo: Bianca Virtue
Go with your heart

“Buy what you love,” MacAlpine says. “There’s a difference between art you can appreciate versus art you actually want to hang in your home. It might take some time to determine what it is you like, but that’s the fun part.”

Do research

“Take time to understand an artist’s background, their work and why you like a piece before you commit to buying.”

Be wall-selective

“Understand the available spaces you have for artworks in your home, so that when you eventually come across the right piece, you will know exactly where it will fit. As a rule of thumb, vertical-shaped works go on narrow walls and horizontal-shaped works go on wide walls.”


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