Not long ago, the only homes in which you'd see big, bold art hanging on the walls tended to be those of serious collectors. For everyone else, filling up a blank space meant going with something attractively innocuous that didn't jangle with the sofa color.
But something exciting is happening; we're losing our trepidation over hanging larger wall art with more impact.
"Personal platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, and online forums like Core77 and Dezeen have made it really easy for people to find and share pictures of things they love," says Alyson Liss-Pobiner of the New York firm Dineen Architecture Design. ( www.dineenarchitecture.com )
"I really love using Instagram to share our own work, and images that we find beautiful, interesting and inspiring," she says. "As a result, images of designer projects have become much more accessible and reach much larger audiences."
Caleb Anderson, principal at Drake Anderson Interiors in New York, says a room doesn't look finished without art.
"Artwork establishes mood, defines personality and impacts emotion," he says. It can connect furnishings and architecture, and draw people into a space.
"Oversize pieces work particularly well above a sofa or bed," he says. "Large art makes an impactful statement in an entry or at the end of a long corridor, making the otherwise void hall an interesting destination of its own." ( www.drakeanderson.com )
Large-format work can create focus points throughout a home, making an impression "without creating a lot of visual noise," Liss-Pobiner says.
When you're positioning large art, she says, don't be afraid to try something different.
"In our room at Kips Bay Decorator's Showhouse this year, we centered the bed on one wall with a large sofa on the opposite wall," she says. They then placed a large blue concave mirror from Bernd Goeckler Antiques above the sofa, but slightly to one side.
"The convention is to center the wall art above the furniture, but by 'freeing up' that wall with an asymmetrical composition, we were able to keep the eye moving around the room," she says.
Large-scale art with typography can be affordable and add a dose of humor, say Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone of Consort Design, a bicoastal design firm.
"If you're looking to take the room in a more sophisticated direction, we also love large, painterly abstract pieces," the duo said in an email.
Their online shop includes the figurative expressionist work of Kristen Giorgi of Atlanta's NG Collective Studio, and Los Angeles artist Matt Maust's kinetic mixed-media work. ( www.consort-design.com )
Anderson has some source suggestions, too, including the Loretta Howard Gallery in Manhattan. ( www.lorettahoward.com )
"They represent artists from some of my favorite movements and often in dramatic scale. I'm drawn to abstract expressionism, op art, minimalism and color field movements," he says. He also recommends New York gallery Danese/Corey for its large-scale paintings by artists of note, like Larry Poons and Connie Fox, and suggests 3-D compositions by artists such as Jeff Zimmerman, Matthew Solomon and Olafur Eliasson as alternatives to conventional paintings on canvas. ( www.danesecorey.com )
For budget-friendly pieces, Anderson recommends Saatchi Art, Twyla, ArtStar and @60". ( www.saatchiart.com , www.artstar.com , www.at60inches.com )
Liss-Pobiner cited a wide variety of galleries and websites for researching, buying and framing art.
"We've had good luck finding interesting work on Etsy as well," she says.