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There are two types of people who buy art: one type buys to build or grow a collection, and the other buys to decorate their home. If you’re an art collector, you either know how to purchase artwork that will increase in value or have hired someone who does. But if you’re buying art to decorate your home, odds are no one ever sat you down and told you “the rules” – so this article is for you.

Buy what you love

The number one rule: buy artwork you love. Don’t take advice from your friends, your neighbors or your family – you’re the one who will look at that piece for a few decades, so buy what makes you happy.

“There should be a little bit of a love affair with the art,” says South Salem-based artist Andy Hammerstein. “You have to like the look of it; you don’t want to always be yelled at by a painting. It’s got to be handsome, sexy even, but just enough that it has earned the right to be in your room. And then later, when you have time to really look at it, the artwork should develop.”

Matching isn’t necessary

Leave the paint swatch or fabric sample at home – your artwork doesn’t need to perfectly blend into your room. In fact, it’s okay to let it stand out. But if you’re concerned about creating a cohesive look throughout the room, Rita Baunok, artist and owner of Chroma Gallery in Katonah, says the best way to do that is to make sure all the pieces – paintings, ceramics, glass, etc. – have one unifying color. Even if that color is a small part of each piece, it will help your eyes travel around the room.

“I personally like mixing styles,” says Baunok. “I really like to see a traditional landscape with an abstract painting in the same room. When customers come into my gallery and tell me their house is modern so they’re looking for something contemporary, I encourage them to try to think out of the box. Mixing styles is not as hard as you might think.”

Size doesn’t matter

Have a small house but fell in love with a large painting? If you have a wall at least as big as the painting, go for it. Is that small piece calling your name, but you have a very large wall to fill? Get it, then fill in the space around it with additional art or accessories.

“I like bigger art – I think it should be a focal point in the room,” says Bedford-based artist Alissa Leigh. “If you spent a lot of money on a piece, then it should be something that people notice when they walk into the room. But if you go smaller, then accessorize on either side to fill in that space. Or, build a gallery wall so the art doesn’t get lost.”

And remember, if you fall in love with a piece of artwork only to hang it in your home and realize it just doesn’t seem right, then try something different. You can move it to another room or accessorize the current room with some complimentary pillows, lamps or a rug. If you love it, you’ll find a way to make it work.

This article was published in the January/February 2023 print edition of Katonah Connect.

Editor-in-Chief at Connect to Northern Westchester | Website | + posts

Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor-in-chief/co-publisher of Connect to Northern Westchester. She has a magazine journalism degree (yes, that's a real thing) from the University of Georgia and has written for countless national publications, ranging from SELF to The Washington Post. Gia desperately wishes schools still taught grammar. Also, she wants everyone to know they can delete the word "that" from about 90% of their sentences, and there's no such thing as "first annual." When she's not running her media empire, Gia enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, laughing at her crazy dog and listening to a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her amazing husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.